“If you think you’re too small to make a difference you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito”.‐ African proverb
The figures are staggering. According to the World Health Organization: “About 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 214 million malaria cases and an estimated 438,000 malaria deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to carry a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths. In areas with high transmission of malaria, children under 5 are particularly susceptible to infection, illness and death. More than two-thirds (70%) of all malaria deaths occur in this age group. In 2015, about 305,000 African children died before their fifth birthdays” making malaria the leading killer of children in Africa. (Source: WHO 2015 statistics).
Although these figures are frightening, what is even more shocking is that these deaths are entirely preventable. Per the World Health Organization, “Increased prevention and control measures have led to a 60% reduction in malaria mortality rates globally since 2000”. This is amazing progress that brings hope that we will be able to wipe malaria off the face of the earth forever.
Eradicating malaria is the dream of South African-based Goodbye Malaria, an organization I interviewed the last week to learn how a team of African entrepreneurs, predominantly women sprayers and socially minded businesses, are coming together to “save a life in your sleep” and eradicate malaria in their lifetime. Here’s their story.
Goodbye Malaria began as a dream of successful African entrepreneur, Robbie Brozin, founder of Nando’s food chain. Robbie traveled throughout the African continent with Humanitarian adventurer, Kingsley Holgate, who is known as the most traveled man in all of Africa. During their travels, Robbie realized that malaria was killing so many people and no one was doing anything about it. In fact, malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa, yet is entirely preventable.
Inspired to do good and fight to end malaria, Brozin along with three other African entrepreneurs founded Goodbye Malaria in February 2013. Goodbye Malaria helps to raise funds to support on the ground malaria elimination programs in Mozambique, to educate and advocate against malaria all while creating employment across the continent. Their beautiful online shop which sells products that “save a life in your sleep” offers African-made pajamas, bracelets, slippers, pencil boxes and teddy bears, all which employ local women and protect families in Mozambique against malaria.
Short video on “Goodbye Malaria”
Although Goodbye Malaria is based in South Africa, South Africa does not have malaria. Mozambique was a logical place for Goodbye Malaria to start their work since it borders South Africa, has a high rate of malaria transmission, and also has special ties with the Nandos and Goodbye Malaria founder Robbie Brozin. Nando’s famous chicken originated in Mozambique. Their award-winning “peri-peri” sauce is made from red hot chilis grown there. Goodbye Malaria works directly with the government of Mozambique and other non-profit organizations on the ground in two large areas of the country. Roughly 200,000 people have been impacted by their work yet there is much more to do.
“Save a Life in your Sleep”:
Goodbye Malaria operates as a Social Benefit Organization (SBO) not a NGO (non-governmental organization) meaning in addition to outside funding, they also use profits from products to go directly to support their operations on the ground. Goodbye Malaria’s tagline is “Save a Life in your Sleep”. By shopping at Goodbye Malaria’s online store, your purchase helps in two ways. First, by creating jobs that support local South African entrepreneurs. Second, the proceeds directly fund the spray program in Mozambique.
The head of Goodbye Malaria’s merchandizing, Kim Lazarus explained that the products are all about changing lives and saving lives. There is a link between how woman in South Africa are making products that will make a difference in the lives of their sisters in Mozambique. It is a wonderful concept.
The online shop at Goodbye Malaria offers some wonderful products for sale and provides shipping right in the US. Every product is made in South Africa, and the products are 100% transparent, sustainable and ethically sourced.
Homemade “Shwe Shwe” pajama bottoms: Shwe Shwe is a popular South African fabric. It is bright, colorful and authentic. The idea behind the pajamas is that you are covered at night while someone else sleeps safely at night in Mozambique (as mosquitos mostly bite at night). They also make pencil boxes, hats, and slippers out of the same cotton fabric.
The homemade teddy bears are another special story. Each bear is unique and made by a different woman. The bears are called the “Mashozi” bear which means “the woman wears the pants”. The name came after Kinsley’s late wife who was an inspiration.
The Goodbye Malaria bracelets are made by the “go gos” – a term used for grannies who watch children who lost their parents from HIV/AIDS. Making the beads and bracelets provides them with extra income and they also involve the children in the process.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Skype call with co-founder Kim Lazarius. When I ended the call, I sat in wonder and amazement feeling completely inspired that there are such amazing people in the world doing good and saving lives, with passion. I instantly ordered a pair of Goodbye Malaria pajama bottoms for myself for the holidays. When I wear them, I can think about how fortunate I am to not have to worry about malaria but also that I’m hopefully saving a life while I sleep.