This summer proved to be very important for NETwork Against Malaria. Six thousand malaria bed nets were purchase for impoverished school children in Uganda. Because three siblings can sleep under each of these nets, 18,000 lives were saved in the last few months alone.
I love to see the videotapes of the Ugandan children singing and laughing as they receive our nets. There is no better feeling than looking at these children. It is not only a celebration for them -- over 35,000 NETwork volunteers across the United States celebrate the nets' arrival. For the people who are involved in our organization, this celebration is the direct result of our hard work.
When I see money, I do not see dollars anymore. I see nets. Ten US dollars buys one bed net. Three children can sleep under each of these nets. So for me, and thousands of others, $20 means two nets and six lives -- not a new shirt or game.
To say raising enough money for one of these massive distributions is easy would be a vast untruth. NETwork raises money primarily in $5 and $10 increments. No mathematician is required to see that a lot of people must be reached to purchase 6,000 nets.
Each net that was distributed will have a story because the child who receives it will take it home and live their life protected by it. Each net will become an important part of the Ugandans' lives. The children who sleep under them will grow up and one day tell stories of their homes and undoubtedly, the nets will be a part of this.
Just as each net has a story, each dollar raised has a story. One of my volunteers loves to tell the story of the first dollar she made for NETwork. A stand was set up at a local carnival for the city's grade schools. The first dollar she made was just that: $1. She sold two baked goods to a little boy who was more than happy to buy them. She says it touched her in a way nothing else has.
NETwork operates on both sides of the ocean. We are an organization that started to help children in Uganda, Africa, and has changed countless lives here in the United States. I love to hear the stories of the nets, and I love to hear the stories about the dollars. We are truly a global organization.