NY Times Declares Nets Are Cool

Buy a net, save a life. It’s so easy a child can do it and many are, according to the New York Times. The $10 mosquito net—a prime tool in the fight against malaria—has become the latest way for teenagers to show they give a damn.

The concept is beautiful in its simplicity. An insecticide-impregnated mosquito net costs $10, lasts three to five years, and saves the life of the family who uses it. I first heard of the potential from Simon Wilde, a friend in Zambia, who told me about it while I was gathering material for Heart of Diamonds. Simon pointed out that all the millions being spent on research to find a cure for malaria was wonderful, but a simple solution—the mosquito net—was already at hand if someone could find a way to get it to the people who needed it.

That’s what the kids are doing. While $10 may represent an African family’s income for a week, it’s chump change to a teen. As Bishop Thomas Bickerton told a crowd of 6,000 Methodist youths at a conference in North Carolina, “This represents your lunch today at McDonald’s or your pizza tonight from Domino’s. Or you could save a human life.”

He told the Times the kids showered the stage with Alexander Hamiltons–$16,000 worth in thirty seconds. Coolness indeed.

Some big names have jumped into the fray. “Nothing But Nets” is sponsored by the NBA and Major League Soccer. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church, the Union for Reform Judaism, and even American Idol are making major contributions and George Bush started the President’s Malaria Initiative. The Times says some $2.5 billion is needed.

The movement has gone viral through the efforts of hordes of children and teens who have adopted the cause, which is the gist of the Times’ story. They’re holding bake sales, basketball tournaments, fashion shows, and presentations at their schools to raise money to buy nets.

A child dies of malaria every thirty seconds. A ten dollar donation can save one of them. Even if you’re not a teenager, you can help at Nothing But Nets.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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