Casting a wider net

- February 24, 2011

Tasha Moideen
Tasha Moideen, a fourth year microbiology and immunology student, would like to be a doctor, like her father and her grandfather before her. As a member of the Circle K society, she believes the leadership and public speaking skills she's learned will serve her well. (Bruce Bottomley Photo)

Update February 28: Dalhousie's Spread the Net fundraising activities now put it in second-place on the university-challenge leaderboard. Dalhousie has now collected $7,194 compared to the University of Northern BC with $10,054. The University of Ottawa is in third place with $6,726.

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As a student in Robert Huish’s class, Global Health, Tasha Moideen is learning about global inequities that lead to health injustices: Why some people in the world expect and demand high quality health care by specialists, for example, while others elsewhere might find themselves walking for hours on dusty, pot-holed roads just to reach a clinic.

“So many people die from easily preventable diseases,” says Ms. Moideen, a fourth-year student in microbiology and immunology. “It’s quite disturbing.”

As well as laying out the problems regarding the challenges of global health equity, Dr. Huish poses an uncomfortable question: “What are we going to do about it?”

It’s a question Ms. Moideen has taken to heart as the president of the Circle K Society, which is now putting on a fundraising push as the Spread the Net campaign nears its deadline—Monday, Feb. 28 at midnight.

$10 for a bed net

Malaria is one of those devastating diseases that can be prevented. Properly used, bed nets treated with insecticide can reduce cases of malaria—the malaria parasite is transmitted by mosquitos—by at least 50 per cent. And yet, the blood disease remains the single biggest killer of African children under the age of five.

Championed by political funnyman Rick Mercer, the Spread the Net campaign challenges high school, university and college students across the country to raise money to purchase bed nets for families in sub-Saharan Africa. Since launching Spread the Net in 2007, the campaign has purchased and distributed 500,000 mosquito nets in Liberia and Rwanda. The bed nets cost $10 each.

In an effort led by three friends Victoria Jones, Hilary Taylor and Keith Torrie, Dalhousie actually won the challenge that first year, raising more than $17,000 and bringing Rick Mercer to campus for a visit that was highlighted on his show, The Rick Mercer Report. (SEE STORY: Rick Mercer gets rock star welcome, Dal News, Feb. 18)

At Dalhousie, the current campaign has been spearheaded by Reegan Connor, a first-year management student, on behalf of the Management Society. During the fall semester, the society raised more than $800 with an event at the Pacifico dance bar.

“We had great success with that event—it was such a good feeling,” says Ms. Connor, 19, reached while on ski trip with her family during study break.

Donations welcome

In second term, the Management Society joined forces with Circle K, a student society affiliated with the Kiwanis Club, which had raised money for Spread the Net in previous years. The week before the break, Circle K held its fun jail-and-bail event, bringing in a flood of donations. Even so, it might be tough for Dalhousie—with about $4,000 collected—to catch the University of Northern British Columbia, now sitting in first place with more than $9,000 raised.

But whether or not Dalhousie ends up on top of the leaderboard is not really the point, says Ms. Connor.

“To me, it’s the cause,” says Ms. Connor, from Toronto. “A bed net is so simple. It cost $10 and it saves the lives of five children. It is the easiest way to prevent malaria.”

Ms. Moideen agrees. She’s been delighted with the way members of her society have risen to the occasion and with the generous support by shown by the university community.

“It’s not a numerical goal,” she says. “It’s about getting students excited about something and working together on something that’s really important.”

Support the third annual Spread the Net campaign by visiting Dal's sponsor page ( and clicking on "Sponsor this School Team." Donations can be made online until February 28, 2011 midnight EST. All contributions are tax deductible and every $10 raised purchases one insecticide-treated bed net, which can protect a child from malaria-infected mosquito bites for up to five years.


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