Lights twinkled, curling around branches before looping along to the next tree. Small white lights blinked all around, illuminating something billowing in the evening breeze… a net. Not just any net, a bed net.
If you went anywhere near the Quad on Thursday, Sept. 23 then you would have seen it. Underneath an opportune full moon, lights illuminated the night, and bed nets draped over trees and canopies. This was Night of Nets.
So what was Night of Nets? And why were there crazy people in the Quad, rocking out to music, designing t-shirts, and sleeping in tents?
A simple answer: MALARIA.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2008 World Malaria Report, malaria kills approximately 863,000 people a year, and around 750,000 of those death are children under the age of 5.
Our campus decided to do something about that staggering statistic.
Advocacy Team, a group created through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), took on the challenge along with several other clubs on campus: Women’s Issues Group (WIG), Circle K International (CKI), Catholic Campus Ministries (CCM), and Outdoors Club. The Night of Nets idea came through collaboration with the non-profit organization, World Vision ACTS, specifically geared towards mobilizing college students around social justice issues, like malaria.
With so many clubs collaborating together, the evening turned out to be an incredible experience. There were between 40 and 60+ students at any given time. Over the course of the evening, from 9 p.m. Thursday night to about 3 a.m. Friday morning when people went to sleep on the Quad, one Advocacy Team member, Tyler Justice, estimated that around 150 people must have attended. President Casey even made an appearance early on.
A total of 25 people (including one faculty member) slept out on the Quad that night in tents or on tarps. Some even under flowing bed nets drifting in the breeze. All taking a stand and making a statement that we will NOT stand for the completely preventable deaths of 2,000 children each day.
According to the World Health Organization and the Peace Research Institute, malaria has killed more people than AIDS, and even more people than all the wars in history.
Night of Nets was an experience McDaniel has never seen the likes of before according to WIG president Bryan Yarrington. “I’ve been here for four years, I’m a senior, and I’ve never seen the Quad like this. This is an amazing event!”
And it truly was. Students could play volleyball and frisbee while listening to music ($1 for a song request, $1 to take one off). Others created unique malaria t-shirts using spray paint and stencils to create some impressive designs. The t-shirts seemed to be one of the most popular activities. Around 53 were sold for $5 each, the profit from which will go towards purchasing treated bed nets, which dramatically reduce the impact of malaria. Other attendees created some amazing art on the theme of malaria (currently on display in Ensor lounge), played Twister, made s’mores and even played a huge game of Ninja at midnight. There was so much to do, and all of it pointed back toward the event’s focus, malaria. Several poignant films were shown on malaria and just why we as college students should care.
Senior Caitlin Brennan said, “I decided to come out tonight because I don’t know much about malaria and I think it’s a really good cause to raise awareness about it.”
This event represented one of Advocacy Team’s main goals, to advocating on behalf of the voiceless. In this case, those impacted each day by malaria. That’s why a key element of Night of Nets was informing students about malaria and what we can do to eliminate it by 2015.
Participants were asked to sign postcards to mail to our members of Congress and the President asking that they fulfill their promises to increase malaria funding to at least $1 billion a year. By putting pressure on our government to act, we can exact change in a very real way, just as we can by raising money directly for malaria relief and prevention.
Sophomore Caitlin Roetheli said, “I think the event was great success because it was such a central event [location]. People were able to wander in, walk around, participate and move along with their evening.”
Ironically, early in the evening while set up was still going on an attendee said she got a mosquito bite. Here a mosquito is just another annoying bug. And yet in communities around the world, that little insect is one of the world’s deadliest predators, causing you to fear for your life.
END MALARIA 2015, we can do it.
Want to get involved in more events like Night of Nets? Advocacy Team meets Thursday nights at 9 p.m. in Hill 104, contact email@example.com for more information.