Rob Mather’s journey as world leader in the Life Skills arena began in June of 2003 when he watched a television program about a child who’d suffered 90% burns in a house fire. Married and a father of young children himself, Rob was deeply moved and recruited two friends to swim and raise some money for her trust fund.
Over the next seven weeks, their three-man project grew to 150 swims in 73 countries involving 10,000 people. Rob’s friend, Andrew Garner, offered to build a small website in his spare time so everyone could see other swims. The ‘Swim For Terri’ took place on 6th Dec 2003 with 100% of the money raised donated to Terri’s Trust Fund.
Inspired by the process, a few people asked Rob ‘What are we doing next year? He off-handedly replied “get a million swimming” and simultaneously began searching for a worthy cause. At that time, the equivalent of seven 747’s full of children were needlessly dying from malaria every day. Long-lasting insecticide treated anti-malaria bed nets provided an effective course of prevention when purchased, so Rob decided to make raising monies for nets his mission.
World Swim Against Malaria was the result. Rob started World Swim by persuading twenty people to give him 5,000 swimmers each. The first year, 250,000 people swam in some 160 countries and Andrew joined Rob full time. Speedo also played a crucial role in the early days.
In time, people started to ask if they could raise funds in ways other than swimming and the Foundation agreed. This necessitated a name change to Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).
Today, people raise funds via multiple means – runs, swims, walks, cake bakes, silences, birthdays-anniversaries-weddings – and also simply donate directly to AMF.
As of Sept 2014, AMF had distributed more than 3 million nets protecting close to 6 million people. They are presently scheduled to distribute another 4 million to protect another 8 million people.