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    Posted July 16, 2014 by
    Stony Brook, New York
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    July 12, 2014: The Screensaver Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Stony Brook teens Emily and Julia Holtzman (17 and 14, respectively), has completed a pilot project in Africa aimed at preventing deadly mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, which kills a child every 30 seconds across the continent. The foundation provides low-cost, cut-to-fit screen windows for huts and dwellings in poor villages. Emily and Julia partnered with Cambria, California-based Bug Off Screen Company to enclose more than 60 dwellings in the village of Croisement Peulh.

    “These huts and dwellings had irregular sized openings for doors and windows, which are needed for ventilation because it’s very hot,” said Emily, the founder of Screensaver Foundation. “So we needed a product that was impervious to mosquitoes, flexible and inexpensive, and yet able to maintain airflow. We managed to obtain enough Bug Off Screens to outfit the entire village. Every door. Every window.”

    The Holtzman sisters, along with Ward Melville student Noah Kepes (15), received a warm welcome from the villagers upon their arrival in the village. Dozens of children greeted their convoy when it arrived in Croisement Peulh and the chief of the village brought the entire tribe out to meet the team and discuss the project.

    “Croisement Peulh is a Muslim village and we visited during Ramadan,” said co-Founder Julia Holtzman. “The people were very gracious to us, and they understood the importance of securing their homes against mosquitoes.”

    Julia said that the Foundation’s next step was to offer villagers microloans to start their own screen installation businesses. “We don’t think charity is the answer. We think of Screensaver Foundation as social entrepreneurship. What we want is to find Senegalese companies that can produce the screens, Senegalese men and women to buy them and be paid to install them in other villages. They can make money while fighting a pandemic.”

    Emily said the latest trip to Senegal provided “proof of concept”. “We showed that this model can work. We now have a country manager, Cherif Ndiaye, and two local men who are trained to install the screens. They finished the entire village with us in only a few days. If we can replicate that, and invest more of our resources in making small loans to entrepreneurs to continue the process, we can really make an impact.”

    Emily, a graduate of Ward Melville High School, will attend The College of William and Mary in Virginia in the fall. Julia and Noah are rising sophomores at Ward Melville.

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