And now, for a public service announcement: I received the below appeal today from the Nothing But Nets charity, which supplies mosquito nets to Africa through the United Nations Foundation as part of the global fight against malaria. As we all do, I ignore most appeals that hit my inbox or my mailbox, and there is nothing wrong with that. I normally make planned rather than spontaneous contributions to charities.
But having worked for UNHCR and UNICEF in Kenya, and having visited the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, this appeal spoke to me more personally. Nothing But Nets is one of the few international charities that I regularly contribute to, as I’m afraid that my time working for such esteemed organizations has left me a little cynical. But this is a great charity and a really cost-effective contribution – mosquito nets do indeed save lives.
I’ve spent a lot of time in malarial-endemic countries, gulped many a dose of doxycycline and methloquine, doused myself in gallons of DEET, worn long-sleeves, long-pants, and socks through 140 degree days and nights, and drank many a gin-and-tonic. And I would never ever think of falling asleep unless it was under a mosquito net. It’s actually baffling to me that anyone would do so, but many have no choice. That’s just a fact. And I knew that I was always a decent hospital and dose of fansidar away from getting rid of malaria if I did contract it. The refugees from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and other countries at the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps do not have these options. But for $10, you can give a refugee child a mosquito net, and might just save his or her life.
The great writer Stephen King recently wrote in his New Year’s essay for Entertainment Weekly that he planned to give this year – dollar for dollar – to charity – what he spends on movies and music. Here’s an outtake (You can read the whole article on EW’s website):
Last, I wish that every appreciator of the American pop cult — and I count myself very much in that number — will remember that books, music, movies, and videogames are important…but not all-important. There are millions of people in the world who are more concerned with getting their hands on enough to eat than they are with whether or not they’ll be able to score a new-generation Kindle or Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for their Nintendo. I know that all the fight-hunger, work-for-peace Bono blah-blah can get a little old, but none of the bad stuff is going away soon. So in 2009, I’m going to contribute a buck to some useful charity like Save the Children or Physicians for Social Responsibility for every one I spend on movies, DVDs, or iTunes downloads.
I thought that this was a great pledge for anyone to make and I’m sure the King of Pop would agree that not dying of malaria is a worthy cause as well, so I am conscious-clear quoting him on this. (And for the record, I agree that Save the Children and Physicians for Social Responsibility are perfectly deserving charities).
The following is the appeal from Nothing But Nets:
As you know, we’ve been working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) over the last few months to send bed nets to African refugees to protect this vulnerable population from malaria. You may have even sent a net and saved a life yourself.
In just two days I’ll be in Dadaab, a Kenyan refugee camp with one of the highest rates of malaria deaths. With the rainy season is fast approaching and we are still a few nets short of ensuring all 273,000 refugees in Kenya are covered.
Will you help us cover every refugee in Kenya by making a donation today?
Be sure to visit NothingButNets.net/Kenya for more information on our efforts in Kenya and how your donations can save the lives of refugees.
I will be sure to send photos and stories from my trip – thank you!
Deputy Director, Nothing But Nets
Anyway, while this admittedly has nothing to do with your own personal disaster preparedness, if you take a very long-term return on investment perspective, you could think of this more of as a “Pay It Forward” or “What Goes Around, Comes Around” moment on Living Prepared™. By contributing to this effort, for the average cost of a iTunes album download, you can help someone in Africa to live prepared.
Thanks for your consideration.