Campaign to fight malaria comes to SF
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Malaria nets filled Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco Wednesday in an effort to raise awareness and donations to combat the deadly disease that has plagued Africa.

The event, hosted by Nothing But Nets, is part of a national campaign created by the United Nation's Foundation to send nets to Africa and raise awareness about the lethal effects malaria has on African refugees and children.

The organization descended on the plaza near the Embarcadero and set up mosquito nets to attract people to sign a 'message of hope' canvas banner. Over 200 signatures were gathered and a donor agreed to donate 1,000 nets to displaced families in Africa.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared this week Nothing But Nets week.

People trickled passed the plaza, taking a second look at the nets and stopping to learn about malaria and the importance of nets.

The Nigerian Brothers, a traditional band from Nigeria, played music for the crowd.

Athletes from the San Jose Earthquakes and Golden State Warriors as well as the United Nations Foundation and the United Methodist Church attended the event to help raise awareness.

The nets will help to decrease the one million deaths each year that are caused by malaria.

"We are able to reach thousands of children and families who are at risk of dying from this very deadly and very preventable disease," said Warner Brown, resident Bishop of the United Methodist Church.

Participants signed the canvas and wrote on note cards that will be sent to Africa this fall.

"For people who are forced to flee their homes with little or nothing, a written message can mean so much," said Adrianna Logalbo, director of the organization.

Nothing But Nets was created three years ago after Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly wrote an article asking for people to donate money for mosquito nets. Since the article, the organization has sent over 2.5 million nets to 27 refugee camps throughout East Africa.

"This is a testament of people coming together," Logalbo said. "The Bay Area is leading this effort and is a model."

It costs $10 to educate, purchase and distribute the nets to Africa. Each net is treated with insecticide and will protect a family of four for up to four years.

"Bed nets can save lives," said Thomas Albrecht of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who survived malaria after being moments from death in southern Africa.

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PHOTO
Maria Katrina Echon | staff photographer
Supporters sign a "message of hope" on a large canvas for the refugees receiving the bed nets at the Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco on Wednesday, September 16, 2009. One thousand bed nets will be contributed for the refugees in Africa if 200 people or more sign the banner.

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