The Reality (and Virtual Reality) of Malaria

For years now, I have been involved with Nothing But Nets, an amazing organization devoted to fighting malaria. I have always felt called to support them and their mission in any way I can, so for my 15th birthday this year, I decided to request something … unique.

I invited some friends and family to come over and experience for themselves something that has been eye-opening for me. I had each of my guests put on a pair of virtual reality (VR) goggles which showed firsthand what life can be like for those who live in places overrun by malaria-infected mosquitoes. I showed them Nothing But Nets’ new virtual reality film, “Under the Net”. VR can be a moving experience, and can demonstrate just how much of a difference even a simple $10 protective bed net could make in someone’s world. (These nets can protect entire families from mosquitoes at night while they are sleeping!) Also, thanks to VR, my family and friends were able to learn more about how people deal with malaria, and how common (and scary) it can be. VR really can capture the effects malaria can have on the body in a powerful way. Having the chance to take a first-hand look into another human being’s entirely different world is an opportunity that is both eye-opening and humbling. In seeing this different world, my family, friends, and I have become more grateful of what we have, and also have been reminded of the importance of philanthropy and giving to others.

While reading or hearing about something is one thing, actually seeing people’s lives and how they live, and seeing the effects of the nets you are buying for them via VR is so much more significant. It has the power to spark something within: whether that spark inspires you to to donate more energy, more time, or more funds into helping those dealing with the effects of malaria, I believe it is important to act on our feelings of empathy, and reach out to those in need. VR as a whole gives us an empowering experience that…

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