A single picture can be worth a thousand words, convey a complex idea—and change the course of a philanthropic journey. Such was the case for Ray Chambers, Co-Founder and former Chairman of private equity firm Wesray Capital Corporation and UN Special Envoy for Malaria and UN Special Envoy for Financing of the Health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In 2006, Chambers was meeting with Jeffrey Sachs, world-renowned economics professor at Columbia University, as part of their work on the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. In the course of one meeting, Sachs showed Chambers a photo he had recently taken of what appeared to be a roomful of sleeping children in a Malawian village. Only they weren't sleeping—they were all in malaria comas, and most would probably die.
"I'll never be able to get that image out of my mind's eye," says Chambers.
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Chambers used his distress as a catalyst to do whatever he could to end malaria. In his research, he learned that malaria was killing a staggering 1 million children under the age of 5 each year. In addition, he found that because malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite at night, bed nets blocked mosquitoes and provide an effective—and inexpensive—prevention strategy. In his research, he also found that 90% of malaria deaths occurred in Africa, and nearly two-thirds of those in just a handful of African countries. Armed with this knowledge, Chambers started Malaria No More in an effort to bring attention to the problem, raise funds to fight it, and bring together organizations that could help—with a targeted focus on the handful of African countries that were most affected.
Ray Chambers' Key Messages for Philanthropists Sources:
• Bridgespan interview with Ray Chambers.
• Malaria No More, “Learn About Malaria,” Accessed June 2011.
• International Medical Corps, “Malaria,” Accessed June 2011.