It's back-to-school time here in the U.S. in cities and towns across America, parents -- nervous for their kids and maybe a little excited to reclaim their days -- are packing lunches and checking off school supply lists.
We're going through this ritual for the first time with our 4-year-old daughter Maret. Each morning, we send her off to pre-k with her Hello Kitty lunch box and oversized Frozen backpack ("Look, Dad, Anna and Elsa sparkle!!"), and she comes home bursting with all sorts of new knowledge.
On the water cycle: "It evaporates and it starts over."
On squirrels: "They collect food, but sometimes they can't find any."
On Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf: "Peter was the strings and the wolf was the French Horn and Grandpa is the bassoon."
In our household, the biggest reason Maret might miss a day of school is a cough. But in Africa, the tiny mosquito is a huge impediment to learning -- malaria accounts for nearly half of preventable absenteeism in African schools and causes up to 50 percent of deaths among African schoolchildren. While the U.S. has been free of the threat of malaria for more than half a century, the disease still claims the life of a child every minute.
Most of these children are in Africa, where I spent a year helping to set up Malaria No More's West Africa programs in Senegal. I remember El Hadj Diop, the Senegalese father who dedicated his life to ending deaths from malaria in his home community after losing his 11-year-old daughter, Ami, to the disease. I'm haunted by the face of the Nigerian dad I encountered as he arrived, desperate, at a clinic with his daughter on the verge of a malaria coma. Pictures of both fathers hang above my desk.
These are but two examples of the African parents who lose their precious children to a mosquito bite every minute of every day. The good news is that we can help protect children who still live with the reality of a potentially deadly mosquito bite. This month, Malaria No More celebrates the one-year anniversary of Power of One, a campaign in which a one-dollar donation provides a test and treatment for a child in Africa.
Our Power of One partner Novartis is donating up to three million antimalarials to match every donation with a second full course of treatment, and Alere is donating two million rapid diagnostic tests toward the campaign.
After only a year, we are excited to report that we are close to meeting our goal of raising three million treatments for children in Zambia. To date, two million treatments and one million tests have already been distributed to kids in need. Now, we need your help to get across this finish line.
To learn more about The Power of One campaign and how you can help, visit malarianomore.org.