One Net at a Time
A $10 bill could buy a movie ticket, 2.5
gallons of gas or lunch. For University of Missouri College
of Veterinary Medicine faculty, $10 buys a mosquito net that
protects an African refugee from malaria. Carolyn Henry, associate
professor and director of the Scott Endowed Program in Veterinary
Oncology, organized “Vets for Nets” to raise money
for mosquito nets for refugees at a transit center in Conakry,
Guinea that houses refugees in need of medical attention.
“Veterinarians have considerable
training in the area of infectious diseases, so they know
how malaria is spread and what a mosquito net could do for
a refugee,” Henry said. “They knew by donating
to Vets for Nets that they were doing something that could
make a big difference. Ten dollars could potentially save
Henry started Vets for Nets by sending
an initial e-mail to her colleagues asking for donations for
money to buy nets. Within 45 minutes, Henry had raised half
of the money she needed and was able to raise the full amount
in two days. Working with a contact in Conakry, Henry arranged
for purchase of the nets in Guinea and delivery to the 43
refugees at the transit center.
The refugees at the transit center are
a diverse group of people from Liberia, Sierra Leone and the
Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Many have suffered serious,
long-term injuries from the civil wars in their countries.
With rising food costs, the refugees can barely afford to
eat. Buying a $10 mosquito net to protect themselves against
malaria is a luxury they cannot afford, Henry said.
“Nobody claims these people,”
Henry said. “The United Nations closed their refugee
camp in Conakry more than a year ago, and many of the refugees
are afraid to go back to their home countries after what happened
to them. They are stuck in no-man’s land, living on
no more than a $1.50 a day.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, malaria kills an estimated 1 million people
a year and mostly affects young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Henry hopes to make Vets for Nets a national organization
and plans to work with the Against Malaria Foundation to raise
additional money for nets for family members of the 43 refugees
she helped this spring and others like them. For more information,
visit the Vets for Nets Web site at: http://www.AgainstMalaria.com/Vets4Nets.
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