Group raises money for mosquito nets


How much does it cost to save a life? Thousands of dollars? Millions? Surprisingly, it costs $10, the same price as two drinks from Starbucks.

That $10 can purchase a mosquito repellent bed net for refugees in Africa. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, sufficient netting has shown to lower malaria infection rates by 90 percent.

Nothing But Nets is an international organization that cooperates with the U.N. Foundation and the U.N. Refugee Agency in acquiring the life-saving nets. The group works through various aid programs like the Measles Initiative, to deliver nets to refugee camps in four areas: Eastern Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. These areas have hundreds of thousands of refugees in need of netting.

Junior electronic journalism major Stevie Fisher is a co-founder of NMU’s Nothing but Nets Student Chapter. She said she was attracted to the idea because of its scope.

“I grew up in Marquette, and there was always a March of Dimes or something like that, but there was never anything that could make a change in the world,” Fisher said. “And it was inspiring that you could make this difference for $10.”

Junior criminal justice major Allison Gager, who is also a co-founder of NMU’s chapter, said it helps bring global issues to the U.P.

“We’re so sheltered here in the U.P., it’s a great chance for us to get out and affect somewhere else in the world,” Gager said.

Nothing But Nets is taking a unique approach to raising the money; they’re putting on their second annual charity fashion show on Feb. 15. Last year the group raised $1,200 and they expect to exceed that this year. NMU president Les Wong has agreed to help out by appearing with his wife Phyllis as models in the fashion show.

The fashion show will be held in the Great Lakes Rooms of the University Center and will begin at 6:30 p.m. The show will consist of casual and formal wear sections. The clothing will be provided by Kohl’s, Maurices, Vanity and A Bride’s Choice.

Mary Tavernini, a consultant for A Bride’s Choice, helped organize the event with Nothing but Nets.

“When we learned about the organization and what they were trying to achieve we became very interested in helping any way we could,” Tavernini said. “We believe the community should help NMU students who are active in any way we can.”

Tavernini said the Wongs were very excited to participate in the event, adding that people are going to love their outfits.

“It’s going to knock your socks off,” she said. “The Wongs are going to be really spectacular and (are) not (going to be wearing) something that you’d expect them to wear.”

Dave Bonsall, faculty advisor for Nothing But Nets, said he’s proud of what the group is doing.

“I think it is something that any individual student, or student organization, should be able to look at and say ‘We can spare $10 to save the life of a child, the simple price of a net for them to sleep under,'” Bonsall said. “This is something you can enjoy, contribute a few dollars, and feel really good about.”

The U.N. Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with the United Nations, released an appeal earlier this year asking for the international community to raise enough money for the approximately 275,000 nets that are still needed in refugee camps. Amy DiElsi, communications director for children’s health at the U.N. Foundation, said the group hopes to meet this goal by Malaria Day, which is on April 25.

“With continued support, we can reach it,” DiElsi said.

These insecticide-treated nets can help prevent the infection of malaria, which is carried by female mosquitoes. Malaria infects nearly 500 million people a year and kills 1 million. According to the World Health Organization, it’s the leading cause of death amongst refugees and children in Africa. In Africa, malaria is responsible for 20 percent of all child deaths.

DiElsi said there is an interesting parallel between the people of the United States and those of Africa.

“I think it’s really great that you can have someone who is going to school in Michigan, who can directly relate to someone their own age in Africa,” DiElsi said.