Next Saturday, April 25, is World Malaria Day, a day when advocates and citizens across the globe will raise awareness and take action to end malaria. In honor of this important day, a number of champions in the fight against malaria have shared their stories.
One of our college malaria fellows, Jason Flatt, shared with us how his involvement in the fight against malaria connects to his favorite Torah portion. He talks about how he has been able to merge Judaism and the important components of his Jewish life with his other true passion, political advocacy, which allows him to pursue this work with his entire soul.
“Rather, it is Jewish in the sense that the Jewish half of my soul, encoded with Jewish teachings and values, is working concurrently with the secular part of my soul, focused on worldly, current, and personal endeavors. Thus, everything I do, I am doing with all my soul.”
Another fellow (and future RAC Legislative Assistant) Rachel Landman shared how much her work with the RAC and Nothing But Nets has taught her how important her voice is and how she can use it to be an effective advocate.
“The advocacy side of the fellowship exposed me to the power my fellow Hamilton students and I have to change policy… Following [my first advocacy] meeting, I realized that between my preparation from the RAC and Nothing But Nets and my passion for the cause, I was able to educate and spread awareness about malaria to policymakers who could effect change by funding programs that deliver these nets to those in need.”
Finally, Dan Skallman, Senior Campaign Associate at Nothing But Nets shares why he joined the fight against malaria. After living and working in a rural farming community in Senegal, Dan realized how prevalent and harmful malaria is.
“Nearly every week, I saw the real impacts of malaria – not just on the health of individuals, but on the livelihoods of entire communities. Kids were kept out of school, fields were left unplowed and the full economic potential of communities often went unfulfilled. But, I was also encouraged by the amazing work being done by local community health workers and volunteers, who were fighting to defeat this deadly disease by distributing bednets, educating communities on their proper use, providing life-saving treatments, and more.”
Since 2007, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Religious Action Center have proudly partnered with Nothing But Nets to fight this deadly disease. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to send insecticide-treated bed nets to families in sub-Saharan Africa who are at risk of contracting malaria. We have also sent hundreds of letters to Congress, and held countless lobbying meetings to tell our Members of Congress how important it is to robustly fund malaria prevention efforts.
Our Jewish faith emphasizes the importance of saving lives in Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5, “it is for this reason that God created only one human in the beginning, a token that he who destroys one life, it is as though he had destroyed all humankind; whereas he who preserves one life, it is as though he preserved all humanity.” By teaching us that every life matters, our tradition poses us with a moral obligation to help others. I hope that this World Malaria Day we all will remember our moral obligation and do our part to end this deadly disease.