23 May, 2010

life or death...

I was laying on my bed relaxing after a busy day contemplating whether it was worth it to try to catch a quick power nap before prayer time and my eyes wandered up. I looked at my mosquito net and noticed that it’s purple and green; my two favorite colors…the colors of my net was something I haven’t really given thought to even though I tuck it securely around me every night and pull it up every morning. I thought of how pretty it is swaying in the wind that is coming in through my open windows. How pretty it is with my peace flags (my personal touch to the bare room) waving above it.

I thought of how in the US mosquito nets come in very vibrant colors and are used as a decorative piece for a little girl’s room; how on eBay you can pick one up from 10$ on up to 30$! My mind then ventured to the necessity of the net in other countries. Here in Nepal where I am, it’s wonderful to have one. It definitely is useful for keeping out the mosquitoes who would otherwise feast on my body while I sleep (as I found out one night when I tried sleeping without it with my ear plugs in!)

But what about those who do not have the luxury of having a net?  Those that either can't afford one or who are in a location where one isn't available.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 500 million people are infected with mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue (clinical illness ranging from a nonspecific viral syndrome to severe and fatal hemorrhagic disease), malaria (flu-like symptoms, such as high fever, headaches, muscle aches, nausea and abdominal discomfort. If left untreated, the malaria can progress to anemia, heart or kidney failure, coma and even death), yellow fever (Liver failure is the most common effect, causing severe jaundice, hence the name “yellow fever"), and encephalitis (the swelling and inflammation of the brain, and can be caused by a bite from a mosquito that is infected with a virus).  More than 2.5 million die of these diseases every year, many of them young children.

The WHO estimates that 300 - 500 million cases of malaria occur yearly and over a million people die of it. More children die from malaria than any other disease in the world. My Italian friend lost her unborn child after becoming infected with malaria while in Africa. Thankfully she survived, after a long and painful battle with the illness.  Malaria is not present where I am, so the mosquitoes are a nuisance not a killer. In many areas around the world mosquitoes carry the deadly disease from one person to another leaving a trail of innocent babies and children in its path. A simple net, regardless of its ascetic beauty can save a life –pretty cut and dry.  My niece had a net when she was younger.  It was sooo cute in her room.  At that time, I never once thought about it actually being a 'mosquito net'.  It was just a fashionable accessory.  I never thought that for lack of one a person could die; that as my niece slept peacefully under her fashion accessory, a little girl 1/2 way around the world died because of a lack of one.

The first thing I did upon looking at my room here at CPH was to figure out how to 'make it pretty'.  Decorating/accessorizing your home is fun and having a comfortable home environment can help one relax after a hard day. It could also help you become a humanitarian. Perhaps the next time you buy a ‘luxury’ item for your home, think about its significance in the world. If you buy your daughter a net, perhaps donate a mere $5 to one of the following Non-profit organizations and they will provide a net to a needy child elsewhere in the world.

Involve your children! It's a global world and even the simplest of actions in one country can have a profound (positive or negative) affect on another.

If you are in the market for home/food/different items there are hundreds of ‘fare trade’ websites on the net; but look for the “FairTrade” symbol! And do a little researching on the website to see just where the product is coming from. Sure you’ll spend a little more, but isn’t a human life worth it? In a world where almost 1/2 of the earth’s population, 2.1 billion people live on less than $2 a day (880 million live on less than $1 a day – for reference the population of the US is around 300 million), maybe new pillow shams aren’t so important…maybe a simple click on the internet and a $5 deduction from your checking account is?

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