My name is Dana, I am 18 years old, a senior in high school, and a very active person. Five years ago I met this wonderful little girl named Diane, and my life will forever be changed.

As our friendship blossomed I learned she loved school and playing soccer with her friends. I learned her favorite foods, colors and that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.

However, I never met Diane in person, our friendship was simply formed by writing letters back and forth to each other. Along with letters, she sent me drawings and I sent her photos. These letters traveled much farther than your average birthday card you receive from your grandparents. They traveled all the way from Washington State to Rwanda.IMG_8047

You may be wondering how I met someone from the other side of the world, I was able to meet Diane through World Vision’s wonderful program where you can sponsor a child.IMG_8046

I simple typed in my birthday and Diane showed up, at the young age of four. For two years we wrote back and forth, but then one day I came home from a friend’s house and my parents were acting very strange. They sat me down and told me the news I would never have seen coming, Diane just after her sixth birthday had passed away from Malaria. This wasn’t right, Diane had her whole life in front of her and it was taken away by an illness that is preventable and curable.

A child in Africa dies every minute from malaria.

How malaria works is a mosquito that has been infected with the parasite acts as a vector and will spread the infection to people when they bite them. The type of mosquitos that can carry malaria live longer and usually only bite humans. These mosquitos mainly live in Africa and that is why 90% of deaths caused by malaria in the world are found there.

These bugs bite mainly from dusk to dawn, that is why mosquito nets are so important. Because of my experience with Diane I have created the Diane Foundation. The goal of the Diane foundation is to raise money for mosquito nets and awareness of malaria. People need to understand that futures are being taken away from children and this can be prevented with donating a net, which costs less than $15, to a child in need.IMG_8105 (2)

From 2000 to 2013 the amount of children dying from Malaria in Africa has been reduced by 58%. This is a great accomplishment but it is not enough. It is estimated that 584,000 people passed away from Malaria in 2013. Every child should be given the opportunity to be what they want when they grow up, whether that’s a nurse, a teacher or a philanthropist.

No one should be sick at six.