EXCERPT: 'The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men,' by Bill Shore

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In "The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men: Inspiration, Vision and Purpose in the Quest to End Malaria," author Bill Shore examines the drive behind scientists' quest to achieve the seemingly impossible: a vaccine for malaria.

Malaria is a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. In 2008, there were between 100 and 300 million cases -- an estimated one million of which were fatal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most deaths caused by malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Shore is the founder of Share Our Strength, a nonprofit group that fights hunger across the nation.

Introduction, The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men

By Bill Shore

At my dining room table, the glow of two flickering candles illuminates the photograph of a beautiful young woman. In the image she is thirteen years old and sitting attentively at a polished wooden desk. Her skin is coffee brown, her eyes bright and searching, and her dazzling smile and gentle expression hold the promise of a limitless future.

The picture was taken in an Ethiopian village called Yetebon, about a three-hour drive south of Addis Ababa. I was there in 2002 with a delegation of business and philanthropic leaders who support Share Our Strength, the anti-hunger organization my sister and I founded in 1984 following one of Ethiopia's most devastating famines. We started the organization with the belief that everyone has a strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie sustainable solutions.

Project Mercy is a U.S.-based nonprofit that seeks to educate and supplement healthy lifestyles for impoverished communities around the world. Its first and main campus is located in Yetebon, where Project Mercy had built schools and kitchens and helped to plant community gardens. In the wake of a famine, the group was in the midst of a new construction project -- a hospital. Share Our Strength had gone to Yetebon to partner with Project Mercy and to generate more awareness and resources for its work.

At one point in our trip, a few of us stepped into an English class in the Project Mercy campus school. The teacher asked one child after another to stand and tell us what they wanted to be when they were older. After each child had spoken, and after I had thanked the class for allowing us to visit, one girl said something so quietly that I could hardly hear her. She was the only person who spoke without being called upon. I walked over and knelt down to ask her what she had said. She repeated so that I could hear it: "God bless you."

Like any child, she was shy, but unlike many she did not look away. Something about her presence set her apart. She told me her name. I asked her to write it down for me so that I would know the correct spelling. She searched her notebook for an empty space and carefully formed the letters of the English alphabet she had learned in school, writing "Alima Dari."

We talked for five or ten more minutes. I told her where we were from and why we'd come to visit. I complimented her on her English. She told me about her brothers and about her walk to school, and where her family lived.

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