Every nine minutes, a newborn baby somewhere in the world dies of maternal or neonatal tetanus. When a baby contracts tetanus, his body becomes contorted and he constantly writhes in pain. Even the touch of his own mother is painful, and he usually dies within the week. This horrible disease is still found in thirty-eight countries, including many in Africa and South and East Asia. It can, however, be prevented. All it takes to immunize a mother (who in turn may have passed the disease onto four children) is three shots costing a total $1.80. Through a program called Project Eliminate, UNICEF is currently raising money to eradicate wipe out maternal and neonatal tetanus. Due to these efforts, these diseases have already been eliminated in twenty countries and nearly one hundred million women have been vaccinated. However, there are still many more countries and women that need to be protected. This is where Kiwanis comes in. Kiwanis aims to raise $110 million dollars to help cover the cost of providing women with the vaccination. The members of the Bronx Science Key Club were each given orange boxes labeled Trick or Treat for UNICEF and were given a month to raise as much money as possible. We were told to ask friends, family, neighbors, and anyone else, and we were even encouraged to go trick or treating on Halloween to generate money for the cause. While walking through the Bronx Science hallways in November, you were likely to see Key Clubbers holding their orange boxes and you might have even been stopped and asked to donate money. The collecting finished in December, and the Bronx Science Key Club raised three thousand dollars, setting a school record.
I, too, was among those seemingly annoying Key Clubbers who pestered their friends for money. I carried my box with me everywhere, asking all of my friends for just a little money to support a great cause. And I did not take no for an answer. Many people told me they had already donated, but I encouraged them to give anything – no matter how small the contribution was. I explained to them how the money was to be used, while simultaneously spreading the word about maternal and neonatal tetanus. These moments made me proud to be a Key Clubber. By raising money for Project Eliminate, I was able to learn valuable fundraising skills, the art of advocating, and the importance of giving back. The project united Key Clubbers and gave them a common goal. And, of course, it benefited the mothers and future babies who will receive this vaccination. Key Club should continue to work with UNICEF and be involved in Project Eliminate in the future.
- Dawn Rafal