NETwork Against Malaria battles disease

Providing rural Ugandans with the necessities of survival


Newly-formed CIO NETwork Against Malaria sells bracelets to raise money for life-saving bed nets, which they will give to women and children of Uganda.

Newly-founded student organization NETwork Against Malaria has been hard at work this semester fundraising for life-saving bed nets for children and pregnant women of rural Uganda.

“We’re hoping for the success of the fundraising semester, and we hope we will able to do more as an organization both on Grounds and in terms of [securing] a big check to send to the national organization,” said group president Ben Rudgley, a second-year College student. “A principle goal is to turn this into an effective chapter that raises money each semester for a really good cause.”

One of the group’s first fundraising events on Grounds was selling hand-made bracelets. Members of NETwork Against Malaria presented to sororities and other groups on Grounds to sell the bracelets and generate interest in the group and its purpose.

“[A couple of] principles that the organization is founded on are self-sustaining resources and micro-finance [interactions] within these women the nets are given to,” said Grace Muth, a second-year College student and founder of the University’s NETwork chapter. “[Ugandan women and children] make the beads for the bracelets and then they send them to us. We sell them and then get them the money to buy the nets.”

Malaria is a cause of particular significance to Muth, whose interest in the subject piqued after she spent three months in Tanzania, an area that is largely adversely affected by the disease.

“I got an email about starting this club at U.Va. and I thought, ‘This is totally something I want to get involved with because it’s very close to my heart,” Muth said.

Many of the group’s members, though they may not have been to many of the African regions most affected by malaria, aspire to visit after having worked with the organization.

“[Traveling to Africa] is definitely something that I’m interested in doing, but there hasn’t been an opportunity [yet.]” Rudgley said.

Second-year College student David Vorona said the organization’s goal this semester is mostly outreach.

“We’re teaming up with or co-sponsoring larger organizations on Grounds,” Vorona said. “Bracelets are a short-term investment. They will be used throughout our time at the University, but they won’t be our primary source of revenue.”

The national organization provides chapters with initial fundraising ideas and supplies to get started. After finishing their bracelet sales, the University chapter hopes to set up an event centered around World Malaria Day. They hope to join together with other student organizations and host one of their biggest fundraising events of the semester.

“We’re going to get a bar night going on and get T-shirts,” Muth said. “We’re also hoping to partner with a couple of other organizations around Grounds during that time and hopefully be co-sponsored by other African-oriented CIOs.”

Though the group just recently began its fundraising, results thus far have been successful. Members predict that with events later in the semester, they will raise a large portion of their overall monetary goal for the semester.

“[Fundraising is] going really well, it’s super exciting,” Muth said. “We’ve had really great feedback.”

Both Muth and Rudgley are members of The Cavalier Daily staff. Neither were involved in the writing or editing process of this article.

Published March 16, 2014 in Life

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