Z is for Zero


Well, guess what? I didn’t get to Provence after all. I must have got into the wrong bag or the wrong queue, but I ended up in Madagascar! The flight was very long and I was stuck in the hold without so much as a Tom and Jerry cartoon to watch, but now I’m here, I think it must have been fate. The other day, I told you about Cats Protection, but I’ve never explained why the other charity the proceeds from Cat Tales go to is the AMF – Against Malaria Foundation.

Curtis was in a taxi once, riding back into town, and the taxi stopped, as they do in Madagascar, to pick up other people. One of them was a young woman with a baby in her lap. The baby wasn’t crying but it didn’t look very happy either. It looked absent, awake but unaware, staring straight ahead but without reacting to anything. When the mother spoke to the driver, Curtis understood enough to gather that she was taking her child to the doctor. ‘Malaria,’ he was told when he asked what was the matter. The young woman seemed very calm. It was just one of those things.

To her, of course, it must seem that way. But it isn’t really, because if her baby had slept beneath an insecticide-treated net, it would never have caught malaria. Curtis never knew whether the baby survived – quite possibly it did, if adequate treatment was given before the parasites began to wreak damage on the major organs. But there were an estimated 3000 deaths in the country that year, and 438,000 worldwide. 90% of the deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Accelerate to Zero is the anti-malaria programme put forward by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Any goal short of eradicating malaria is accepting malaria; it’s making peace with malaria; it’s rich countries saying: ‘We don’t need to eradicate malaria around the world as long as we’ve eliminated malaria in our own countries.’ That’s just unacceptable.

There are many ways to attack malaria, several that involve costly and sophisticated research. While such research is vital, a lot can be achieved in the short term by distributing mosquito nets. Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) […] have been associated with sharp decreases in malaria in countries where malaria programs have achieved high LLIN coverage.

Why, amongst all the available options, choose to donate to the Against Malaria Foundation? Because it focuses on distributing LLINS and because, according to Givewell, which classifies charities for cost-effectiveness, the AMF is one of our top-rated charities and we feel that it offers donors an outstanding opportunity to accomplish good with their donations.

So there you have it. There are so many charities and causes vying for your attention and money, but if you have doubts, quite legitimate, about whether the money is well spent, rest assured that in the case of the AMF, it is. Zero is not a fanciful figure. In the countries where it still exists, malaria can be defeated.

As for me, your feline guest blogger for this past month, I now hand the blog back to Curtis. But he’s come to rely on me so much that I’ve now earned a spot as a regular contributor. So have no fear – Smith will be back before long!

The proceeds from Cat Tales go to two charities, Cats Protection and the Against Malaria Foundation. So please don’t hesitate to spread the word and help us save lives. And of course, by clicking on the button, you’ll also be getting 21 great cat tales to enjoy. Thank you!

In a special promotion deal, the price of Cat Tales is just $1.99 for the whole month of April (NB the price will go up to $3.99 on Tuesday). Available as a PDF (or epub / mobi) complete with colour illustrations directly from this site* by clicking the button below. Also available in print (black & white, $9.50).

*Buying from this site results in $1.61 after the PayPal commission, as opposed to just $0.70 when buying from Amazon. An insecticide treated mosquito net, which protects on average 2 people for 3 to 4 years, costs $2.50. PLUS, if you buy from this site, you’ll get a personal message of thanks from Curtis along with a short story of his own (in which Nibbles the cat, I’m sorry to say, comes to a rather unfortunate end).

Posted in Book a Break anthology, Short story competition, travel and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. It has been a pleasure getting to know you some, Smith. You’re a remarkable cat, and the world is a better place for your contribution to it. Thank you.

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