In Tanzania’s Nyarugusu refugee camp, when you are one small person living among 150,000 others, it is hard to find comfort. But 11-year-old Amisa Batenga recently found some hope — in the form of a mosquito net.

 From one danger to another

Amisa made the harrowing journey to Nyarugusu from the war-torn Congo with her mother and six siblings, after soldiers took her father. Though the camp is safer in many ways than the Congo, Amisa’s family still faces its share of challenges, including the risk of dying from the camp’s biggest killer — malaria.

Amisa has already caught malaria once, and was terribly sick before recovering. Two of her little sisters have also been very ill with high fever and chills, though they were able to get medicine and recover. Others do not fare so well, however. Children often die from malaria in Tanzania.

ALL SMILES: Amisa strikes a pose with her younger sister. Their family is one of the hundreds who can now sleep safer thanks to mosquito nets.


Prevention is possible

According to the United Nations, since 2000, nearly 1 billion insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been distributed in Sub-Saharan Africa, and by 2015, about 55 percent of the population in this region was sleeping under mosquito nets, up from less than 2 percent coverage in 2000.

“...when you are one small person living among 150,000 others, it is hard to find comfort.”

In crowded Nyarugusu, however, it is easy for mosquitoes to spread malaria, and Amisa lived with the worry that they might again develop the disease like tens of thousands of others.

Recently, however, Amisa and her family were given mosquito nets and a tent of their own. She says the nets make her happy, because she knows they can keep her mother and siblings safe from malaria and, in the long run, help keep her healthy enough to reach her dream of becoming a nurse.

“Amisa’s story isn’t uncommon,” said Rachel Henderson, communications manager for Nothing But Nets. “A child dies from malaria every two minutes. Through new technology like VR, we hope people experience Amisa’s story firsthand and understand that a bed net can make all the difference for a refugee.

“Anyone can send a net and help protect someone like Amisa from malaria,” adds Henderson. It is a small comfort in a difficult place, but one Amisa says she hopes all refugees will soon be able to enjoy.