By Sandra Long Weaver
Making sure the voices of Africa are heard when the discussion turns to issues on the African continent is what motivates Jefferson Knight who represents the Central conference on the General Board of Church and Society.
“I want to ensure the voices of Africa are heard,” he said during a break in training for Imagine No Malaria Days on the Hill. Knight participated in the visits because he wanted Congress to hear his story.
“I am on the ground in Africa,” he said. He represents not only his home country of Liberia, but also Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.
He works with local health boards that provide basic training about malaria and how to use insecticide-treated nets, education about HIV/AIDS and training midwives.
“There has been some improvement in the death rates because of the net distribution,” he said. “It’s very important to continue the efforts _ to have the death rate reduced to the lowest level possible.”
Knight shared his story about having malaria and the impact it had on his family and on him with the representatives in the Congressional offices he visited.
He said he will use the experience of lobbying Congressional offices when he returns home. It is a comprehensive project that affects all African states, Knight said. This work can influence how our countries to work together, Knight added.
“The work we are doing is important. Malaria is a killer disease. We know it. And we know it is curable,” he said.
He said the United Methodist Church in the Central conference had been working on the issues surrounding malaria. “What we do now only enhances and strengthens the board,” he said.
This is Knight’s first year on the GBCS and besides working on malaria, he would like to address issues with clean water as well as AIDS, he said. Knight is also the program director for the Peace with Justice Liberia Annual conference.