By Brian Johnston
Ghandi once said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Laci Butler, sophomore nursing major from Sunnyvale, is doing exactly that. She partnered with Brad Gautney and Global Health Innovations and is spearheading a campaign called “Nothing but Nets” here on campus.
After going on a mission trip to Africa, Butler came back to school and asked herself what she could do as a college student to make a difference for those in poverty around the world. Many people go overseas and want to make a difference, but the challenges often seem too daunting or overwhelming to make any tangible changes to the lives of those in need.
However overwhelming the challenges, Butler refused to sit and do nothing. While looking for ways to help, Butler was told to contact Brad Gautney. Gautney, a nurse, is the founder of an organization called Global Health Innovations that works in Haiti and Africa. Their mission is “to design, implement and manage programs that prevent and treat deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Malaria in children and mothers living in areas of extreme poverty.” Butler contacted Gautney and asked how she could help.
A partnership was formed, as Gautney had already been planning on partnering with college students to do “Nothing but Nets” campaigns at different universities across the country.
Students at Pepperdine, Lipscomb, and Tennessee Tech are doing similar campaigns.
“Nothing but Nets” is a campaign whose goal is to raise funds to buy mosquito nets to prevent Malaria. These nets are treated with insecticide and protect individuals from mosquito bites that can cause Malaria. These nets can be purchased for $8 each, and the nets that ACU purchases will be going directly to the village of Tonge in Malawi. Gautney stresses that GHI does not simply send money but works amongst the people, educating and building relationship, which makes their program much more effective.Â In founding Global Health Innovations, Gautney’s original mission was to work to prevent HIV/AIDS, but as he began to do research and work amongst the people, he realized that Malaria was causing many more deaths than HIV/AIDS, and the fact that it is a preventable and curable disease made it a much more important mission to undertake. According to the GHI website, Malaria causes twice as many child deaths than HIV/AIDS every year, and every 30 seconds a child dies of Malaria. Although the statistics are alarming, Butler is adamant.
“We must not forget that each statistic has a face, a name and a family,” said Butler
Butler believes that as Christians it is our obligation to help those inÂ need. Butler was drawn to this fundraising campaign because it is doable for college students. Every student can give up $8, he says.
“That is a meal, a movie ticket, or a t-shirt that you can do without,” said Butler.
The goal for the ACU campus is to raise enough money to buy 1,000 nets, which is $8,000 to be distributed in November. As of now, a little more than half of that goal has been raised. The deadline for these funds has been extended, and Butler believes the goal can be met. Students can donate funds by finding the “Nothing but Nets” booth in the campus center or by going to www.crowdrise.com/abilenechristian and donate by credit or debit card.