Malaria No More:
Michelle Keith is the marketing manager at Malaria No More, an organization committed to ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Keith shares how the organization is helping kids and their families dream big again.
Sam's Dream Blog: I read this quote attributed to your co-founder, Special Envoy Ray Chambers:
"Jeff [Sachs, a Special Adviser to the Secretary-General] was showing photos from a village in Malawi and I thought these angelic children were sleeping. I said, 'Aren’t they cute?' And Jeff said, 'You don’t understand. They were all in malaria comas at the time of the photo and they all subsequently died.’ I will never forget that image."
How important is it to visualize a dream come true and to take action on what you see?
Michelle Keith, Malaria No More: Personally I think that trip made a heavy impact and continues to make a heavy impact on anyone who goes over and witnesses the [circumstances.] What makes this cause so powerful is because we know we have the tools to defeat it. We can call it a dream, but we can also call it a reality. It’s not kind of lofty thinking that we can defeat the disease. We know that we can.
It’s our dream to create a world where no child dies of malaria, and we really believe we can achieve that.
SDB: How did ending malaria become a personal dream of yours?
Michelle Keith, Malaria No More: Our whole organization comes from a variety of backgrounds. We have people who used to work in the music industry, we have lawyers, we have doctors. I came from the advertising industry. I had a lot of love for creative and good marketing, and I wanted to make sure we were harnessing creative energy and putting that toward social good.
It was my dream to work for an organization whose mission I believed in. I feel really fortunate to have landed a foot in the door at Malaria No More because you come into this space and you recognize that everybody here is working toward something they believe in. That’s empowering. I feel fortunate to be here for a cause that I can believe in every single day. Even if there are days that are super busy or projects don’t go as well as we’d like, we do know that we are working toward the right thing. That is a dream come true for me.
SDB: Your organization, Malaria No More, is committed to ending malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Does that dream ever seem daunting? How do you tackle ending malaria?
Michelle Keith, Malaria No More: The good news is just in my short time here of two years, the stats are shifting in the right direction. From a child dying every 45 seconds from malaria, now it’s a minute. In 2006, the annual deaths were over 800,000 and now they’re closer to 700,000. We actually know the work we’re doing, and it’s not just Malaria No More but tons and tons of organizations and people, we know we’re working toward the right thing.
All of us have a talent, all of us have a voice. We can apply that talent to any cause we want. My passion was good marketing campaigns. I was fortunate enough to come to Malaria No More and to help produce some great marketing campaigns that make a difference in the world.
SDB: Reaching age five dramatically decreases a child’s susceptibility to malaria. What’s it like to see a little girl or boy celebrate their critical sixth birthday and to know that’s the difference between their future dreams being realized vs. going unfulfilled?
Michelle Keith, Malaria No More: One of the things that we say in some of our educational curriculum in Africa is, "Dreams begin underneath a mosquito net." We believe if a child is protected from this deadly disease, that opens so many other doors to their future. That’s our goal, to give kids a childhood, to give families a livelihood and make sure everybody’s living healthfully and happily