The Divas visit Rwanda with Nothing But Nets

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February 28, 2013

March 4, 2013, update

The Divas spent their final day in Rwanda at the Kigali Memorial Center where they paid tribute to the 1 million people who died in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. (DAY FOUR PHOTOS) They visited several graves of the 250,000 victims buried there, which was a very emotional experience for Alicia and Natalya. The Divas have finally returned home to the United States. Stay tuned to WWE.com for more on the Divas' incredible journey to Rwanda with Nothing But Nets. For more information on Nothing But Nets, visit NothingButNets.net where you can also send a life-saving mosquito net and save someone's life.

March 1, 2013, update

The Divas visited their second refugee camp in Rwanda to pass out mosquito nets at the Kiziba Refugee Camp. Alicia Fox and Natalya share their personal stories about visiting the refugees with the Nothing But Nets staff. (DAY THREE PHOTOS)

Alicia Fox's blog:

Today I see the world with new eyes. Some of the things I saw will forever haunt me, inspire me, sadden me, make me strive to be better, to work harder so that I can serve more. I don't think I've ever experienced so many emotions in such a small window of time, yet it's a window of time I will never forget for as long as I live.

Nothing But Nets took us to the Kiziba Refugee Camp today to distribute bed nets. It's a camp three hours southwest of Kigali, Rwanda. You have to take a very steep and bumpy dirt road that winds around a mountain for an hour until you reach the top of the mountain. This mountain barely supports 16,000-plus refugees who are hidden from the rest of the world.

There is no running water here, no electricity, very little food and water. An average hut (the size of a closet) houses as many as eight people — mostly women and children who face health issues and fears that their children run the risk of contracting malaria. They are called refugees because they fled their homes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, leaving behind their husbands, sons, fathers who are fighting and dying during rebel fighting. Their hopes of ever seeing these men again are slim.

So here we were, showing up to the camp, anticipating sadness, anger and resentment, but what we received was quite the opposite. When the bus arrived at the camp we heard music and drumming. We exited the bus to find a welcome party full of smiles and love dressed in full African regalia, dancing, drumming and singing with us. We began to dance with them. Suddenly I felt like we came from the same spirit, but were just given different circumstances. I was sad that I couldn’t share my circumstances with them, but I knew that fate had a different plan for them. 

After the music, we were taken into an open-air structure to distribute life-saving nets. I had no idea that I'd be walking in to greet hundreds of women holding their small infants and babies. My heart suddenly filled up with all kinds of emotions:  sadness for what these innocent children had been born into, hope that we could bring their stories to the WWE Universe, anger that the hardship of the world can get this bad for people, excitement that I was able to bring them bed nets to at least relieve them of one hardship, thanks to Nothing But Nets and WWE. I burst into tears and suddenly felt embarrassed to be crying in front of these women. But after looking deeply into their eyes — I knew without having to say a word — they understood what I was feeling. They knew emotion better than anyone. Look what they've been through.

After walking through the camp and visiting with the refugees, I realized that I CAN make a difference. We started by eradicating the threat of malaria by giving the refugees bed nets. The next step is to share this message with all of you, because I feel like power in numbers can change the world. So will you guys please help me?

Here's what I think we should do next: Help Natalya and me to raise enough money to send 20,000 bed nets to protect these amazing people from malaria! It just takes $10 to send a net and save a life.  

The WWE Universe can help! It just takes $10 to send a life-saving mosquito net and save someone's life.

Natalya's blog:

To say I've been affected by this trip to Rwanda is an understatement.

Today we visited the Kiziba Refugee Camp, one hundred miles from Kigali. Our visit to this camp only reminded me of how powerful this trip is for me, WWE and Nothing But Nets. How did I get so lucky to be able to do this?!

I felt like it was a different experience than the Gihembe Refugee Camp for the simple reason that I knew more of what to expect. I was nervous the first day because I didn't know how I would feel seeing so much poverty in one place. I let my guard down, relaxed and let the people guide the way … then magic happened.

We were greeted by a group of women who wanted to perform a ceremonial dance for us. They were so excited to show us how beautiful, feminine and talented they are. Their gift was their dance. They also wanted us to dance with them … so we did.

Alicia Fox, my fellow Diva, who got to share this journey with me, ended up getting very emotional over the strong presence of these amazing women. I knew when I saw the tears rolling down her cheeks that I had to be as strong as I could possibly be. I smiled extra hard to hide the pain I felt in their eyes. It ended up hitting me later on that day when I had a moment to myself. In a great way, the women celebrated Alicia's emotion and felt more connected to her and to us than we could have ever imagined.

One of the top WWE Superstars is John Cena and his slogan is "You Can't See Me." We taught the children today how to make his waving hand gesture across their faces because we wanted to remind them that they can be seen and that they aren't invisible. We see them plain as day and hear them loud and clear!

Feb. 28, 2013, update

Today the Divas visited their first camp in Rwanda, the Gihembe Refugee Camp, where Alicia, Natalya and the Nothing But Nets staff hung out and distributed bed nets throughout the camps to families in need. The camp was full of children, who were thrilled to meet the Divas. (DAY 2 PHOTOS)

Follow Natalya (@NatByNature) and Alicia (@AliciaFoxy) on Twitter for more updates. Check out Alicia Fox's blog on hollywoodlife.com and see her tout.com/u/aliciafoxy and read Natalya’s latest blog below, exclusively on WWE.com:

Today was one of the most powerful days of my life. That's the only way I can describe it.

I had the privilege of visiting the Gihembe Refugee Camp where nearly 15,000 refugees call home. The people live in the smallest quarters I've ever seen, where up to five people sleep on a single twin mattress. Mostly we met women and children who had left everything behind to find safety in Rwanda. These people have nothing and are just looking to survive every day. They may not have a lot of resources, but there is no shortage of hope.

I've always been a giving person, but in the past, when I've looked at extremely poor countries, I've felt like it was impossible for me to help them. How could I make a difference? The people at Nothing But Nets and the UN Foundation have taught me how incredibly easy it is to save a life. As a Diva, I have the powerful tool of using the global platform of WWE to help save millions of lives.

Today I did something that has really changed my life. Today's experience at the refugee camp made me see the world differently.

Along with Alicia Fox, I handed out mosquito nets to various people at the camp who really needed them. One mosquito net is around $10 and many people can sleep under them. The nets protect people from getting bitten by mosquitos that could give them malaria (one of the leading causes of death in Rwanda). Once the mosquito lands on the net, it is actually killed on contact; this prevents it from infecting anyone with malaria. By offering these life-saving nets, we are giving them hope to live disease-free.

One thing that I know is true after leaving the refugees today: The human spirit is more resilient than you could ever imagine. I've never felt more inspired than I do after meeting children who were sick and had no parents or family, teenage girls who lost their parents in the war, the elderly who could barely stand. At the end of the day, we are all the same: HUMAN.

I've been given a totally new perspective of what being content is all about. These people were so grateful we came and so appreciative that we wanted to hear their story. It doesn't take a lot to find happiness, just finding the joy in others and realizing how much you have to be grateful for in the very smallest of things. Their story was truly a gift to us that money just can't buy.

The WWE Universe can help! It just takes $10 to send a life-saving mosquito net and save someone's life.

Feb. 27, 2013, update:

The Divas were debriefed about their trip by the UN Refugee Agency, World Food Programme and UNDP (UN Development Program). They also took part in a field visit with UNDP, which is an agency that's mission is to improve quality of life. In Rwanda, UNDP is helping to empower women who have experienced great hardships. (DAY 1 PHOTOS)

Natalya and Alicia also visited the Hotel Des Milles Collines for dinner, which was made famous in the film "Hotel Rwanda." During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, more than 1,200 people took refuge inside the hotel.

Below is the latest blog from the Divas in Rwanda:

Every day we wake up feeling blessed to have the roles of being WWE Divas, but today was truly exceptional. Our day began with our partners with the United Nations Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign escorting us to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) headquarters in Rwanda. UNHCR officials briefed us about how refugees are affected by malaria. Neimah Warsame, UNHCR representative for Rwanda, was an amazing inspiration. She’s powerful and proactive in the community; seeing her and other Rwandan officials with various UN agencies showed us how passionate they are about helping refugees stay healthy and safe.

The hardships refugees face are unbelievable. There are about 65,000 refugees in Rwanda, most escaping fighting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. We couldn’t believe the very steep, uphill battle they face, even just to get to the safety of the camps in Rwanda.

Malaria is one of the refugees' biggest challenges. Only 60 percent of refugees in the country's four camps have bed nets. That's where the work of Nothing But Nets comes in. All of UNHCR's goals for this year seem reachable, and we want to help them get there.

The most shocking thing we learned today is how many children die from malaria, a disease that's completely preventable. A child used to die every 30 seconds from malaria — now that figure is every 60 seconds. The work of Nothing But Nets has helped. But no child should die from a preventable disease. We want to make a real difference. Stay tuned to WWE.com to follow our journey through Rwanda.

The WWE Universe can help! It just takes $10 to send a life-saving mosquito net and save someone's life.

Feb. 26, 2013, update:

After a more than 20-hour journey, the Divas have arrived safely in Kigali, Rwanda, to begin their goodwill campaign to help fight malaria!

Alicia Fox and Natalya will pass out mosquito nets to refugees in Rwanda as part of WWE's alliance with the United Nations Foundation's Nothing But Nets campaign to help raise awareness and funds to fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. (MORE INFO)

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