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Malaria camp out that didn't happen Credit: Linda Li

What if going to sleep meant contracting a deadly disease?

On Saturday night, the United Nations Foundation, in conjunction with Penn’s International Affairs Association, hosted “Sleep Out to End Malaria,” an event on campus intended to raise awareness about malaria.

The event consisted of students signing a petition to end malaria, listening to music and speakers, and screening the documentary When the Night Comes, all followed by attendees sleeping out on College Green. It was held in honor of World Malaria Day on Sunday.

“We are showing world leaders that we as individuals personally care about malaria. This is not a global fight, but it is a personal fight,” said Andrea Gough, senior campaign associate for the UNF’s Nothing But Nets Campaign.

Students who attended this event came not only from Penn, but also from Temple, Drexel, Rochester and Eastern Universities.

“Hopefully it [the event] will raise awareness about the problem,” Michele Aweeky, a sophomore from Temple University, said. “People don’t realize how much it affects people in Africa.”

According to, there are 500 million cases of malaria each year, with nearly 1 million of those infected dying from the disease. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in Africa, where malaria is the leading cause of death in children.

“We live in a global society — we are all impacted by it,” Gough said. “It has a solution that is frankly easy.”

UNF’s “easy” solution to the problem of malaria is a bednet, which is a mosquito net coated with insecticides, according to Gough. The bednets are used at night to sleep under, since the mosquitoes carrying malaria are nocturnal. Nothing But Nets raises money to send these bednets to Africa, in the hopes of eradicating malaria by 2015, she said.

“It’s one of the most easily treatable and inexpensive to treat diseases. The fact that it kills a child every thirty seconds is just deplorable,” Wharton junior Catherine Gao said.

The main speaker at the event was Lynda Commale and her nine-year-old daughter, Katherine. Katherine has worked since the age of five to raise money to eradicate malaria and has currently raised $135,000, according to Gough.

Commale described her experience traveling to Africa to distribute the bednets for which she and her daughter raised money. “In their [the African people] minds, this is a basic need of life. This is food. This is water,” she said of the bednets.

Despite the chilly weather and impending rain, the students still spread out their blankets and prepared their sleeping bags for the sleep out.

College sophomore Drew Kramer seemed unfazed by the weather. “We’re staying outside, I don’t care. We’ll tough it out.”

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