April 24, 2015
BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— For more than a decade, Illinois Wesleyan University faculty member Laurine Brown has encouraged her students to put their knowledge of global health concerns into action – by raising money to address one of those problems.
This year students in “Health 280: Perspectives in Global Health” raised more than $1,000 in less than two weeks to help fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. By organizing a pick-up basketball tournament, a bake sale and other activities to benefit the United Foundations Nothing But Nets campaign, the students’ efforts will provide 100 nets for a community of 200 people.
In selecting the charity to support as a class, each of Brown’s students first researched a charitable organization, wrote a persuasive paper and presented it to the class. Members then narrowed the organizations to four causes and debated the merits of each.
“Ultimately, we decided on Nothing but Nets after we were won over by Nikki Greenhill’s persuasive argument,” said Becky Fiedler ’16, an environmental studies major from Orland Park, Ill.
A psychology major from Wonder Lake, Ill., Greenhill ’15 said she felt malaria is not given the same attention as many other diseases.
Malaria is a leading killer of children in Africa. Nothing But Nets reports an estimated 219 million people are infected with malaria every year, causing approximately 600,000 deaths – mostly children under the age of five. Insecticide-treated bed nets keep children safe from the bites of nocturnal mosquitos that transmit malaria.
“Because the prevention of mosquito bites is necessary to prevent the transmission of malaria, I thought the Nothing But Nets campaign was highly cost-effective and had a very catchy name that would be easy to market with IWU students,” said Greenhill. “I also liked the connection to basketball and thought it would be nice to hold a knock-out tournament in addition to the typical tables that organizations used [to raise money].”
As environmental studies program coordinator and associate professor of health and environmental studies, Brown provides students in “Global Health” with opportunities to examine critical health issues across different world regions, especially developing countries. In previous years, Global Health classes have raised money for clean water, flood relief in Pakistan, a peanut butter project to feed malnourished children, and Heifer International’s efforts to help poor communities strengthen their economies.