Welcome to the Campaign Quarterly Newsletter, a snapshot of our work at Nothing But Nets and the global movement to end malaria for good.
In this issue: two very different stories of malaria survivors from the Democratic Republic of Congo, NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo returns home with bed nets in tow, and a startup disrupts the bedding industry while donating thousands of bed nets.
Ruth Nyiramasuri lost two daughters to malaria after her family fled from their native Democratic Republic Congo. They became very sick with high fever, chills and stomach pains, Ruth explained to us. Their condition got worse, and they died at the regional hospital.
Malaria is among the most common diseases at the Rwamwanja refugee settlement, where Ruth and her family now live. Nearly every member of Ruth’s family – including herself and her husband – has had malaria.
“When we get sick, we can’t work in our shop or tend to our crops,” Ruth, a 53-year old former shopkeeper, says. “We spend too much time sick at home or recovering in the health clinic.”
Ruth’s 20-year-old daughter Jolie became infected with the disease last year. “I had headaches, nausea and vomiting that lasted two days,” she says. “I’m afraid of malaria.”
At the Rwamwanja health clinic, Ruth and other families received one of the most vital forms of protection against malaria: an insecticide-treated mosquito net. Since receiving a bed net, none of Ruth’s family members have been sick with malaria. Fear of catching a potentially fatal disease is no longer top of mind.
“It’s helped us a lot,” Ruth says as she smiles. Together with UNHCR, Nothing But Nets has delivered over 1 million life-saving mosquito nets to refugee families like Ruth’s throughout Africa. This year, we are working with UNHCR to provide nets, as well as anti-malarial drugs and diagnostics, to refugees and internally displaced persons in the DRC. If you would like to support our work, donate here.
Malaria is among the greatest threats to refugees around the world. Eric Bieski, a Nothing But Nets champion, has seen this threat first-hand. In an emotional interview, Eric, who works with refugee populations in resettlement and placement, tells the incredible story of a girl named Salome, who almost died from malaria shortly after her family resettled in the US from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“That family was one of my first clients. They had a baby girl named Salome. I love interacting with kids and making them laugh and smile. But when Salome’s family first arrived in the United States, Salome never really smiled: she always had a somber look on her face. One day her father called me in a panic, saying she had fallen ill and was very sick.
Paramedics came and they were wearing hazmat suits because they thought she might have Ebola. At the hospital, they found out her blood cell count was very low but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. They transferred her to Hershey Medical for extensive testing, and there they discovered she had malaria.
I went a week later to pick her up – and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life…”
Six years ago, 35-year old Ariel Kaye had a bold business idea that would disrupt the bedding industry: To create a premium bed sheet brand that was high quality, direct-to-consumer and socially conscious. When Ariel launched Parachute in 2014, she partnered with Nothing But Nets to donate a bed net – ‘a safe night’s sleep’ – for every purchase of their signature Venice bedding set.
Parachute, now one of the world’s fastest-growing home brands, has raised over $300,000 for Nothing But Nets through Venice set purchases and additional customer donations. These funds have been used to distribute over 30,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to families in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America who live in malaria-affected regions. That is more than 30,000 families who can enjoy a restful night’s sleep knowing they are protected from the mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
Read more about Parachute’s partnership with Nothing But Nets.
NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo has dedicated his life to improving health and education in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Malaria has long been a key focus for Dikembe, whose native country reported 25 million cases of the disease in 2018. Dikembe, a malaria survivor himself, has previously partnered with Nothing But Nets to support bed net distributions in the DRC – particularly at the hospital that he founded in Kinshasa.
This year, both Nothing But Nets and Dikembe are stepping up the fight against malaria in the DRC. We are partnering with the UNHCR to fight malaria in DRC settlements for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Dikembe is traveling this month to Kinshasa to visit the hospital he founded, bringing hundreds of insecticide-treated bed nets with him.
Gripped by violent conflict, the DRC is home to over five million displaced persons, according UNHCR. And sadly, DRC’s most malaria-affected regions are also areas with high concentrations of refugees and IDP’s. We plan to reach over 300,000 displaced families from malaria by end of year, through the distribution of bed nets, treatments, and diagnostic tests.
But we cannot do it without your support. This month, we have launched a DRC fundraising appeal. The faster we can raise these funds, the sooner we can distribute the bed nets and other life-saving products to these settlements.
To support our DRC project, make a donation here.