Last week, the RAC and Nothing But Nets kicked off our semester long Malaria Fellowship (in partnership with the United Nations Foundation) for undergraduate students. We searched the country far and wide for the best candidates and narrowed it down to these ten students. Fellows are already busy building out their core group of students and generating interest on campus to help save lives from malaria through advocacy and fundraising this semester.
We’ve got big news coming from our partnership with Nothing But Nets! Together with the United Nations Foundation, we are launching a new Malaria Fellowship program for the most engaged, social justice-minded college students.
The Fellowship will run from January 2014 through April 2014. Fellows will learn about the plague of malaria in Africa, help build strong support for Nothing But Nets on campus, and become advocates in their own communities. Fellows will strengthen their leadership skills, network with UN Foundation and RAC staff and help save more lives by fighting malaria. Each Fellow will receive a stipend to offset activity costs on campus and an all-expense paid trip to DC for training Feb. 1st-3rd.
The Fellowship breaks down the semester in order to offer students comprehensize training in grassroots organizing, fundraising and advocacy. In January, Fellows will organize and build relationships on campus while beginning to build awareness and create a core of student activists at their schools. February kicks off with a trip to DC, where we’ll train students on legislative efforts relating to malaria, teach effective techniques for lobbying Congress, then finish the trip with a visit to Capitol Hill! In March, Fellows continue to build on their advocacy skills and meet with their members of Congress in their districts, and we’ll finish the semester with campus-wide events leading up to World Malaria Day (April 25).
Sounds pretty exciting, right? Head on over to our fellowship page to learn more and apply. We’re taking applications until December 4th. Not a college student? Not a problem, help share this opportunity with your friends and family members, who may know a college student, or be one themselves! Here’s a sample Facebook post:
Big news: The United Nations Foundation & the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism are launching a Malaria Fellowship with Nothing But Nets! This semester-long program aims to increase awareness about malaria among college students & empower them to act in support of malaria prevention, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Applications close December 4th.
As always, if you haven’t had a chance to ask your members of Congress to continue supporting anti-malaria initiatives, our action alerts make it quick and easy for you. And of course consider sending a net to a family in Camp Nyarugusu in Tanzania!
This week, NFTY is introducing advocacy into its Nothing But Nets month of action. In this week’s blog post, Southwest SAVP Jackson Dooling explains to his peers that it is important to let members of Congress know that we care about issues that are important to us and to advocate for them.
Below, Jackson shares why the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria are crucial in the global fight against malaria.
Advocacy is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s something that most of us have heard in some sort of discussion about social action. But what is advocacy and why is it important? In every situation, we can choose to advocate for a cause. This can be done in many ways. Educating others, speaking out in support of an issue, and encouraging policymakers to support a specific cause are just a few examples. The key to advocacy is speaking up. The more we can educate and inform, the more work we can accomplish.
After you finish reading Jackson’s post, join NFTY in sending your own letter to your members of Congress to ask for continued funding for these two crucial funds. If you are in NFTY, click here to send your letter to Congress.
NFTY’s Nothing But Nets Month of Action is still going strong. Every day, Regional Social Action Vice Presidents Olivia Kessler and Jackson Dooling have been educating others in their movement about malaria through various social media outlets and regular blogging. I can hardly keep up with all the tweeting and retweeting! If you haven’t yet, be sure you’re following them at @marsavp and @NFTYSWSAVP.
Below, Olivia shares why this issue is important for the Jewish community:
Since then, the URJ has exceeded their original goal of raising $500,000 and has raised over $750,000, sending more than 75,000 insecticide treated bed nets to those in need in Africa. Last year, Nothing But Nets issued a formal challenge to NFTY during the 2013 NFTY convention to see which region could send the most letters to Congress asking for continued funding for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which help send more nets and malaria-fighting medicines to Africa.”
This month, NFTY is helping to spread the buzz about malaria, Nothing But Nets, and our partnership throughout the month of October. Their goal is to help build awareness in their movement, advocate to their members of Congress to continue funding the President’s Malaria Initiative and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and maybe even to send a few nets over to Camp Nyarugusu in Tanzania!
NFTY Regional Social Action Vice Presidents Olivia Kessler and Jackson Dooling hailing from the Mid Atlantic region and the Southwest region respectively are heading up the month. To kick off the month, here’s how Jackson introduced this initiative to his peers:
Malaria, Nothing But Nets, and the URJ
As Jews, we have an obligation to help those in need. Currently, there are billions of people in need of a great deal of help. Though this help can come in many ways, NFTY has chosen to focus on malaria for the month of October.
Every year, malaria kills over 600,000 people, 86% of the deaths are children. This means that a child dies from malaria every 60 seconds. It exists in 109 countries around the world, which means that 3.3 billion people, roughly half the world’s population, is at risk. But what is malaria and how is it transmitted?
Ten is a pretty significant number in Judaism. There were the ten plagues of Egypt, there are the Ten Commandments, ten Jews are required to form a minyan, and there are ten generations from both Adam to Noah and Noah to Abraham. But most pertinent to this time of year, there are ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During this time, it is customary to spend time reflecting and renewing with t’shuvah (repentance) and tzedakah, and that includes taking the time to help renew and save others’ lives.
As the Program Coordinator for the Reform Movement’s Nothing But Nets partnership and given the time of year, I thought it only appropriate to list ten things I hate about malaria:
- Pregnant women are at high risk of dying of complications from malaria. Malaria is also a cause of spontaneous abortion, premature delivery, stillbirths, severe maternal anemia and is responsible for about one third of preventable low-birth-weight babies.
- Malaria is the number one infectious disease threat for the US military.
- Malaria has killed more US military members than all enemy fire-related deaths in all US wars combined.
- Over 600,000 people die each year from malaria. 86% of those people are children.
- At least eight US presidents contracted malaria in their lifetimes.
- Malaria exists in 109 countries around the world, making 3.3 billion people (half the world population) at risk for contracting the disease.
- Malaria used to be so rampant in the southern US, including in Washington, D.C., that foreign dignitaries stationed in D.C. were given danger pay.
- Growing resistance to antimalarial drugs has spread rapidly in Africa.
- An estimated 91% of malaria deaths in 2010 were in Africa, followed by Southeast Asia (6%), and the Eastern Mediterranean region (3%).
- Malaria exacerbates the cycle of extreme poverty in Africa and other parts of the developing world by increasing school absenteeism, inhibiting foreign investment, and decreasing tourism.
And since we are the Religious Action Center, I’ve also included a list of things you can do this High Holy Day season to take action against malaria, brought to you also by the number ten:
- Donate $10 to send a net to Camp Nyarugusu, Tanzania.
- Read about why the Reform Movement is focusing its efforts on Camp Nyarugusu this year.
- Send a letter to your members of congress so they know that robust US leadership is crucial in the fight against malaria.
- Check out the RAC’s Nothing But Nets Days of Awe guide.
- Listen to NBA superstar Stephen Curry talk about his trip to Tanzania on Good Morning America as he is under a net!
- Host a Nothing But Nets Talmud study group during the Days of Awe, during the month of Tishrei, or under the sukkah during Sukkot.
- Tweet or post these links on Facebook to encourage your friends and family to donate $10 or send a letter to their member of congress.
- Ask your rabbi about decorating your congregation’s sukkah with a mosquito net. Email me, and we’ll send you one!
- Consider encouraging your child or student to incorporate Nothing But Nets into their Bar/Bat Mitzvah project this year. Contact me for details and materials.
- If you want to talk with me more about holding a Nothing But Nets fundraiser or any other event at your congregation, email me or call me at 202-387-2800, and we’ll come up with some great ideas that work for your congregation together!
In the northwest corner of Tanzania sits the country’s sole refugee camp. Camp Nyarugusu houses nearly 68,000 refugees, mostly from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many have been at the camp since 1996 when the civil war forced them out of their homes. Others are escaping more recent violence, such as the chopping off of albinos’ limbs and grinding the bones into “magic dust” – a practice that became “witchdoctor-approved” for good luck in 2009. Needless to say, many of these men, women and children fled from terrifying violence and came to Tanzania seeking safety. Though the people at Camp Nyarugusu are safe from violence, they are plagued with yet another deadly killer: malaria. Last year alone, in a camp of 68,000 people, there were 62,000 cases of malaria. One woman in the camp has had malaria twenty times and her baby has had the illness three times in the last three months. And before ESPN columnist Rick Reilly’s and NBA superstar Stephen Curry’s trip to Nyarugusu last month, there were no mosquito nets.
The camp desperately needs mosquito nets, and our partners over at the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets have determined that the camp needs 38,000 nets to adequately protect its residents. That’s why we at the Religious Action Center have decided to focus our efforts on this camp, in particular. All nets that our Movement raises will be sent to families in Nyarugusu so that these refugees who are fleeing violence don’t have to face another killer.
Stay tuned as we bring personal stories of families and success stories from the camp to you through RACblog throughout the year. Right now, you can check out Nothing But Nets’ Facebook album with pictures from their trip with Rick Reilly and Stephen Curry.
We’ve set a goal here at the RAC to raise 18,000 nets this year and to send 1,800 letters to Congress so our lawmakers know that this issue is a priority for Reform Jews. We must pursue healing, rodeph refuah, and though 18,000 nets is just under half of what is needed at Nyarugusu, we learn from our ancient Jewish scholars that to save just one life is as if we have saved the entire world.
For the last few weeks, our eyes have been turned to South Africa as Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition in a Pretoria hospital. We do not expect someone in his nineties to live forever, of course, but at the same time the world still needs this great man. I believe one should say all the important things to loved ones while they can still hear it. It is for that reason I want to use this week’s newsletter to talk about why Madiba (his traditional clan name and a term of endearment) is so important to all of us no matter where we live.