At the Nothing But Nets Leadership Summit, we interviewed some amazing advocates in the fight against malaria. We met Charlie Webster, British TV Broadcaster and malaria survivor, Avery Manousos, high school advocate, and brothers Jazshua Andes and Andrew David, who are only 12 and 10!
Charlie Webster contracted malaria in Brazil when she was cycling from London to Rio to cover the 2016 Summer Olympics. She had a small chance of surviving, and an even smaller chance of surviving without disabilities. Nevertheless, she has made a strong recovery and has become an outspoken advocate for Nothing But Nets.
What would be your response to people who believe that malaria is not an issue that could affect them in developing nations?
It is key to ending malaria that developed countries understand the impact it has on them and their economy. This is a global issue that affects us all whether directly or indirectly, it is not only our responsibility to eradicate it but our need. Developed nations rely as much on developing nations, it is important to understand it is a two-way relationship – half of the US exports, that’s billions of dollars worth, go to developing malaria ridden countries.
By investing in ending malaria it is a direct investment in the growth and stability in the global economy.
Over the last 15 years 672 billion dollars was lost from the global gross domestic product as a result of malaria.
The only financial and economical choice we have is to end this killer disease.
It is sometimes easy for us to dissociate ourselves with what we can’t see right under our noses but trust me this could happen to any one of us – it happened to me and very nearly killed me.
People are dying from malaria allover the world, our world, a child every two minutes, this generation can change that and really do something we can be proud of.
What continues to motivate you to be such a strong advocate in this fight?
I know what it feels like, what it did to me and the pain it put my family through. I was in a coma and on a life support machine. My outcome was I’d die and if I did survive which was a very slim chance, then I would be brain damaged. I survived and if I can use my story to just help save one life that it is worth it. We all have a purpose in life; we must use it. I can’t walk away knowing there are millions of people dying from something I survived and do nothing about it.
Why do you believe young people should play an active role in the fight to end malaria worldwide?
Young people are our now and our next generation, the generation that can make sure we do end this disease, malaria, forever. This is one thing we absolutely can do, it is treatable and preventable, young people can use their voice, compassion and courage be the generation that finally say goodbye to the world’s oldest disease that has already killed half of mankind. I absolutely believe that young people can drive this fight and show that we are united and not putting up borders that we have previously seen in the past—malaria has no borders.
Avery Manousos, a Massachusetts native, first heard about Nothing But Nets a few years ago at an event with her Hebrew school. Since then, she has been a tireless advocate for this organization in her community.
How can young people become involved in Nothing But Nets and the effort to end malaria?
I think young people can become involved simply by just being engaged and aware of the world around them. To me, everything else follows! If you make yourself aware of issues around the world today, then you are already making a difference, as it enables you to gain others’ awareness of these issues and causes. With Nothing But Nets and the effort to end malaria, getting involved can be as simple as educating yourself on malaria and its life-threatening effects on those not so far away. This can inspire someone to help out in any way possible, and youth can learn that giving a voice to those affected by malaria is just as important as having a voice ourselves.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being politically involved at such a young age, especially regarding an issue as significant as malaria?
There are so SO many rewarding aspects of doing what I do with Nothing But Nets. One, knowing that what I do actually matters, even though I’m young. I am not nearly as old or as experienced as many others who work in this field, yet I am treated the same, advocate the same, and am able to have as strong a voice, especially in representing my generation. Two, I am dedicated to fighting for those suffering from malaria who can’t fight for themselves. It is unbelievably rewarding to know that with every meeting, or presentation, or even dollar, the lives of others are being protected. To me, this is one of the most important things – recognizing that there are so many that need help, and actually doing something about it. Malaria is one of many horrors in the world today, but unlike the rest, it is preventable, and I am proud to be working towards its elimination. For me, it’s like making the world a better place, one step at a time.
Jazshua Andes (12) and Andrew David (10) and were the youngest advocates at the summit, but they made a big impression by asking speakers insightful questions and were featured on Senator Cory Booker’s Twitter account!
Jazshua (left) and Andrew (right)
What is your favorite thing about lobbying on the Hill?
“My favorite part of lobbying is teaching adults things that us children know, and it is really important to us that a child should not die every two minutes from malaria.”
“My favorite thing about lobbying on the Hill is that I get to meet Congressmen who don’t really know about this cause.”
Written by Kate Canavan