Send a Net, Save a Life

Nothing but nets.jpg A couple of weeks back, we told the story behind the creation of Nothing But Nets, a grassroots campaign asking people to donate $10 toward the purchase of bed nets to combat malaria. Today, Nothing But Nets officially goes online.

WASHINGTON, DC (November 14, 2006) – The United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) announced today the launch of Nothing But Nets – a grassroots campaign asking individuals to donate $10 to “send a net, save a life.” Each $10 donation pays for an insecticide-treated bed net, distributes it to a family in need in Africa, and provides education on its proper use to prevent malaria. Founding partners of the campaign are NBA Cares, The People of the United Methodist Church, and Sports Illustrated.This campaign was created after Sports Illustrated (SI) columnist Rick Reilly’s May 5, 2006, column, “Nothing But Nets,” raised $1.2 million. More than 120,000 bed nets have already been delivered in Nigeria as a result of Reilly’s call to readers who had “ever cut down a net, jumped over a net, watched the New Jersey Nets, worn a hair net, surfed the net, or thought of Angelina Jolie in fishnets” to donate $10 to purchase insecticide-treated nets.

“Send a net. Save a life. It’s that simple,” said Andrea Gay, Director of Children’s Health Programs at the UN Foundation and Program Director for Nothing But Nets. “Malaria is a leading cause of death in Africa and one of the most preventable diseases world-wide. We know that together we can stop the spread of malaria in a simple, easy, and affordable way.”

Malaria is a disease that infects nearly 500 million people each year and kills more than one million of those who become infected. Malaria can be prevented through a simple, inexpensive measure: sleeping each night under a net treated with insecticides that kill mosquitoes or stop them from biting.

“Once you learn about the devastating effects of malaria, how this disease contributes to global poverty, and how easy it is to prevent, it is hard not to get involved,” said Kathy Behrens, Senior Vice President of Community and Player Programs for the National Basketball Association. “Our teams, players, and the league are firmly committed to this campaign.”

“We’re excited about our involvement in this campaign. The People of the United Methodist Church have been in mission across Africa for more than 160 years,” said United Methodist Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of Pittsburgh. “Our work in the area of malaria prevention made Nothing But Nets a natural partner for us. There are many ways to stop the spread of malaria, but buying a bed net for a family in Africa is something that almost everyone can do. We hope that everyone will join us and our other partners in support of this effort.”

Several global agencies of The United Methodist Church will launch supporting campaigns to educate and raise money for bed nets. The church is creating a special Web page through www.UMC.org in conjunction with www.NothingButNets.net. The People of the United Methodist Church are making Nothing But Nets a focal point of their youth outreach program. The efforts will culminate at the Youth 2007 gathering in Greensboro, N.C., in July 2007. More than 10,000 young people are expected to attend this event.

“This is the all-time no-brainer,” said SI’s Rick Reilly. “No governments to topple, no disease to cure, no warlords to fight. Ten bucks puts a net over a kid — sometimes two and three kids — and saves their lives. For the price of a new CD, you just saved two lives. It’s such a good feeling; the country is starting to get behind it. And that’s a very cool net result.”

Rick Reilly visited Nigeria the week of November 6, 2006, and his follow-up column on the campaign will appear in the December 4 issue of Sports Illustrated, which will appear on newsstands on or around November 28.

To distribute the nets throughout communities in Africa throughout 2007 and 2008, Nothing But Nets has partnered with the Measles Initiative — an integrated health campaign whose partners include the American Red Cross, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the UN Foundation. The Measles Initiative is one of the most successful vaccination efforts ever. The campaign will also fund education on the use of bed nets.

Additional partners for the campaign include AOL Black Voices, Malaria No More, and VH-1. To learn more about Nothing But Nets, visit www.NothingButNets.net.

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