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Saturday, December 20, 2014 | Last updated: 6:40am

UA community raises money to end malaria



The UA community raised more than $1,700 in donations for the global organization Malaria No More.

Malaria No More is a non-profit organization whose goal is to eradicate malaria, an infectious blood disease prevalent in Africa. A child’s life is taken every 60 seconds by this disease, yet it is both preventable and treatable, according to the organization’s website. The website also states that “Ninety-one percent of malaria-related deaths occur in Africa, and are caused by female mosquitos that bite at night.” Mosquito nets, costing just $10 each, would protect these families and prevent further spread of infection.

The United Methodist Campus Ministry Wesley Foundation collaborated with the United Nations Foundation, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to host the UA’s first ever Imagine No Malaria.
The event was held on the UA Mall from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., and featured 10 student volunteers from the campus ministry who were “trapped” beneath mosquito nets. Each student had to raise $100 to be set free.

The volunteers begged friends, sent out Facebook pleas, and encouraged bystanders to free them.

Jerry Theberge, a junior studying management informational systems and operational management junior, was confident that he would be freed after sending “well over 150 text messages” with plans to call 200 more people. By the end of the day, all 10 of the students were set free and continued to attract donations.

Community members had the option to donate to a specific person, or give a general donation. In order to provide everyone with the opportunity to donate, even those without cash, the organizers provided the use of an iPad for online credit card deposits which went directly to Malaria No More foundation.

Dakota Staren, a public health freshman, spoke about her personal motivation for volunteering.

“I have been really involved in the United Methodist Church for a long time and it is something near and dear to my heart,” Staren said. “I think it is a great cause to eradicate something that is so big and prevalent in this society.”

Abby Thompson, a speech and hearing sciences sophomore and volunteer, explained why she wanted to help out with the day’s proceedings.

“This is about spreading awareness and letting people know that even a dollar can help,” Thompson said.

The United Methodist Church heads the No More Malaria campaign and operates more than 300 hospitals, clinics and health posts throughout Africa, many of which were started by missionaries over 100 years ago, according to The People of the United Methodist Church’s website.

The church encouraged the 11 million other Methodist churches around the world to pledge to get involved in this cause, and in 2012, many organizations created efforts to contribute to the movement. Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry was one of them.

Organizers of the campus ministry first came up with the idea for this event in November of 2012. Dee Dee Azhikakath, executive director of the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry, said that the original goal was to raise around $1,000 but that she hoped the generosity and compassion on the UA campus would exceed all expectations, and she is excited that it did just that. She spoke about the potential that the UA community has to make a difference.

“For something that I don’t think twice about like $10 for a latte, or popcorn, or a movie ticket, I could actually, not just change somebody’s life, but I could save somebody’s life,” Azhikakath said.

Countless students showed their support for the cause. Amanda Romaine, a pre-nursing freshman, and Danny Plewa, a pre-pharmacy freshman, donated a couple of dollars.

“I heard about [the event] on Facebook last night and it’s a good cause,” Romaine said. “We have all heard about this issue but I was surprised to hear that it was still so big even after all of the up and coming health things that we have today.”

Plewa said he was shocked to hear that 90 percent of Malaria victims were less than five years old.

Azhikakath acknowledged the high hopes and confidence that she has for the future of this movement.

“I feel like the more people that know that this is a possibility, the more people that will help,” she said. “We want to end malaria, because it is something we can actually do.”


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