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Former 'Idol' finalist Melinda Doolittle going to Africa with Laura Bush


By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 06/27/2007 

Melinda Doolittle went from a background vocalist to American Idol's sixth-season third-place finisher, and now she's teaming up with First Lady Laura Bush for a trip to Africa as part of a Malaria No More campaign.

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During the four-day tour, Doolittle will participate in malaria prevention programs and see the devastating impact that the infectious disease, which kills more than 3,000 children every day, is having on the African continent.

Doolittle first learned of Malaria No More, a non-profit organization focused on ending malaria deaths, through April's Idol Gives Back charity event that raised over $70 million for programs aiding children in Africa and America.  Her visit will be a part of the First Lady's five-day tour through Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zambia.

"Traveling to Africa has always been a life-long dream of mine," said Doolittle. "I am very excited to travel with the First Lady and Malaria No More and to show the impact the viewers of American Idol have had through their help and support during Idol Gives Back."

As part of the trip, Doolittle will assist in the distribution of 500,000 bed nets in Lusaka, Zambia, which represents the use of the first installment of funds contributed to Malaria No More by Idol viewers during the Idol Gives Back campaign. 

Doolittle will assist in loading the bed nets onto the bikes of community health workers who will then deliver them to the remote African communities.  The bed nets will be specifically distributed to Zambia's at-risk population to help curtail the spread of malaria, which is the number one killer of children under 5-years-old in Africa.  Worldwide, the disease is responsible of the death of over one million people a year.

In addition, Doolittle will put her vocal chords to work for a good cause as she plans on performing a song as part of the program.  She'll embark for the trip on June 28, and the following day she will travel with U.S. Malaria Coordinator Admiral Timothy Ziemer to visit various malaria sites, including a health clinic where children with the disease are treated.

Malaria No More is helping to fund the bed net distribution in conjunction with the President's Malaria Initiative as well as the Global Business Coalition to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


(Photo credit Fox)


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