As a medical student, Lara Gruye is dedicated to improving the health of those most in need, a passion she has combined with her volunteerism, as the 26-year-old serves to prevent deaths from malaria through education.
Through NETwork Against Malaria, bed nets are provided to vulnerable populations at risk for malaria in Uganda. According to NETwork, 93% of Uganda’s total population is at risk for the serious disease, caused by the bite of infected mosquitoes, impoverished children and pregnant women being the most susceptible. NETwork trains girls in schools how to use the nets, and those girls then bring the nets home to their families. Serving as a Global Giving Coordinator for NETwork, Lara promotes the organization to support fundraising as it works to save impoverished children and pregnant women from a preventable death, and promote education for young girls.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I’ve given back my entire life. As I started becoming interested in medicine, I wanted to continue to give back to different communities, and NETwork was my first foray into service that wasn’t based in the United States. Volunteering with this international demographic changed my perspective and got me out of the lens that I’d been looking in throughout my entire life.
Describe your role with NETwork Against Malaria.
As the NETwork Against Malaria Global Giving Coordinator, I raise money through GlobalGiving, a giving marketplace. The average Joe can select any cause they wish, and donate to any project all around the world. I leverage GlobalGiving to promote NETwork, and we’ve raised nearly $12,000, helping 20,000 Ugandan children thus far.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
I’ve realized that other cultures and populations don’t have the luxury of time that we do. As Americans, we are so lucky to have time to give to others. I appreciate everything I’ve been given in my life, and want to elevate the quality of life of those around me. NETwork’s mission is to foster good health, promote education and combat poverty, all in the name of fighting malaria, and I’m helping these people live their best lives.
How does your volunteerism intersect with your personal experiences?
NETwork partners with a priest in Uganda, Fr. Mujule, who has strongly supported education for girls in a culture that has not traditionally placed value on promoting female education. I’m lucky to have been born in the U.S., where we have pretty equal rights, and women have access to education. What I’ve learned is that that’s not the case throughout the world. By distributing nets in these schools, parents are motivated to continue to send their girls to schools.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
You can find a million excuses not to help, but the way modern tech functions, it’s so easy to do something and make a big impact. There’s really no barrier to engaging, reporting and learning about how you can help others, even if you don’t have much time.
What’s your goal for future service?
We are creating another project to upgrade an existing health center in rural Uganda. We are hoping to raise money to better care for Ugandan children and adults there. Our fundraising goal is $92,000. Please visit our GlobalGiving website for more information about how you can help.
How can readers help?
Please check out NETwork’s website for more information about their mission and how you can give back.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Lara Gruye? Find local volunteer opportunities.