In my family of eight children in Zimbabwe, none of us died due to malaria because our mother, a village health worker through the World Health Organization, always put us on the malaria preventative medication before the peak season of the mosquito-borne disease. Sometimes, I would try to hide the pills because of their bitterness, but – thank God! – I was fortunate because of my mom’s work.
My mother spent most of her time going from village to village, inspecting areas around homes that could be breeding areas for mosquitoes. She also educated villagers on preventative measures such as covering stagnant water, protecting water wells and taking the full course of malaria medication. A village health worker for more than 20 years, she saved many lives.
When I was growing up, people in our village came to our home nearly every day for malaria pills. We children found it frustrating to see so many sick people. Often, our mother sent us home from the fields to get the medication because she was also working hard in the fields for the family. Our father, a truck driver, was on the road all the time.
My early years influenced my future vocation.
Currently, I help with the children and youth ministry at Glen Addie Community Church, a United Methodist mission in Anniston Ala. My husband, the Rev. Tiwirai Kufarimai, is the senior pastor. However, in June, I will be commissioned as a provisional elder of the North Alabama Annual (regional) Conference, and the Imagine No Malaria field coordinator position will be my full-time appointment.
My district superintendent, the Rev. Sherill Clontz, asked if I was interested in going for the Imagine No Malaria training in Nashville, Tenn. My week of learning gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life as far as malaria is concerned. It made me appreciate my mother’s work. The stories shared during the training strengthened my resolve to save others for the sake of Jesus Christ and challenged me to continue to put my faith into action.
Malaria is a killer disease, but it is preventable and treatable. Last year, I almost lost my young sister, who lives in Malawi, to cerebral malaria. As a mother of two children, I can only imagine how it feels to lose your precious ones.
I believe God has put me in this position for a reason. The death rate due to malaria calls me to participate with enthusiasm and passion to the call of saving lives because mine has been saved, and I am thankful.
Coming on board with the Imagine No Malaria Initiative has been a life-changing experience for me. I thank God that I agreed to be part of this global ministry.
* Kufarimai earned a Master of Arts in Christian education (2003) and a Master of Divinity (2005) at Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta. Now she is working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at Samford University: Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, Ala.
“Did you get bitten by any mosquitoes while you were there?”
It had been nine months since I had been in Central America on a mission trip, and it hadn’t occurred to me that my symptoms were a result of that trip. But when I happened to mention it and the emergency room doctor asked me that question, I knew.
I was lying in a hospital bed in the Midwest, four months pregnant, with malaria. With ice packs and cool IV fluids to lower my fever, I prayed and wrestled with God, begging for life for my baby. I had just an ounce of faith that God’s love would be greater than any grief I would experience and that I would have to trust God, even if my baby died.
After a week-long hospital stay, an attentive team of doctors, readily available medications and a long recovery, I gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy that we named Jacob because I had wrestled (Genesis 32). I had read so much about malaria during my recovery and learned how deadly – and preventable – malaria was worldwide. As I held my newborn baby in my arms, I couldn’t help but think of the 3,000 mothers that were holding their babies as they died of malaria that day – simply because they live on the other side of the ocean.
I can’t just thank God that my son is healthy; I have to shout it from the rooftops and run it through the streets that God has given us the tools and resources we need to fight this disease! God doesn’t waste a single experience of our lives. God uses everything that we offer to bring about hope and restoration.
Imagine No Malaria is doing just that. Malaria is preventable, treatable and beatable. While 3,000 children died the day my son was born, malaria deaths have now been cut in half. Together, we are making progress. Mothers are holding their babies in life instead of death today. That is such exciting news!
But there are still mothers who are weeping in grief, and I want nothing more than to be a part of bringing hope and sharing what God has entrusted to us as a global community. I am truly imagining no malaria!
*Long, mission and outreach director at Morning Star United Methodist Church, O’Fallon, Mo., is an Imagine No Malaria field coordinator.
By Barbara Dunlap-Berg*
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – In 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for an International Mother’s Day to honor all mothers, especially those who had lost sons in the Civil War. More than a century later, families in the United States still celebrate mothers and other nurturing women on the second Sunday of May.
This year, on May 12, United Methodists will honor the mothers who have lost children to malaria through a special Mother’s Day campaign.
Imagine No Malaria, a ministry of The United Methodist Church, is launching the campaign so that mothers in Africa will be able to fight malaria and see their children grow into thriving adults. Eighty-five to 90 percent of deaths from malaria are women and children under five.
The Rev. Eunice Musa Iliya, a United Methodist pastor, understands all too well.
She lives and works in Jalingo, Nigeria. When she traveled to the United States in March, she had just recovered from malaria. She has lost track of the number of times she has had the illness.
She recalled taking her brother to the Zing General Hospital, a government facility, in Nigeria several years ago.
“I looked at the environment of the hospital,” she said. “It really wasn’t good. It wasn’t safe for me. The windows and doors were broken. Most of the beds had no (insecticide-treated) nets. After I was there for several hours, I started feeling mosquito bites on my legs. And I was like, ‘Oh, my God. I will end up having malaria in this hospital.’ I couldn’t stand it, so I left.
“This is where my relatives, my friends, my children, most of the people in my community go,” Iliya continued. “I asked myself, ‘What am I going to do about this?’ A hospital is supposed to be a safe place. When you go there, you should get healthy. You don’t go to the hospital to get sick. But this hospital looked like if you went there, you would get sick before you went home.
Health-care system ‘vital’
“That’s when I decided I was going to be a part of Nothing But Nets.” At the time, Iliya was a student at Claremont School of Theology in California. She recruited her friends to contribute 100 insecticide-treated bed nets for Zing Hospital.
And when she returned home to Nigeria, she enlisted the community to improve the hospital.
“We cleaned the area together. We talked about sanitation and what it means to have safe windows and doors and to have nets on the beds.” She stressed the importance of teaching people to install the bed nets correctly – and to keep using them.
Building on the success of Nothing But Nets, The United Methodist Church launched the Imagine No Malaria campaign in April 2010. Imagine No Malaria puts faith into action to end preventable deaths from malaria in Africa. The first expression of The United Methodist Church’s Global Health Initiative, Imagine No Malaria has become a model for collaboration among annual conferences, local churches and multiple general boards and agencies.
Today, The United Methodist Church operates more than 300 hospitals, clinics and health posts throughout Africa.
“This health-care system is vital to saving lives and overcoming this preventable disease,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, who chairs the United Methodist Global Health Initiative.
“Your gifts provide these facilities with resources such as rapid diagnostic tests and malaria medication that will help mothers who are trying to nurture their children as they suffer from the effects of malaria.” To give, text the word MOM to 27222 or go to ImagineNoMalaria.org/sharethelove . There are also three special Mother’s Day cards and posters for sale on the website. The cards feature photos of African mothers with their children.
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.
By Annette Spence
With only 10 weeks to go until June 9, the churches and people of Holston Conference are getting more creative in how they raise money for the denominational goal of eradicating malaria.
The Rev. Stephen Yeaney, for example, will probably be bald after Easter Sunday.
“I like to do strange challenges,” explained the pastor of Oakland United Methodist Church in Greenback, Tenn.
To inspire his congregation to give $2,000 to the “Imagine No Malaria” campaign by Easter, Yeaney at first proposed that he would jump from a silo into the nearby marina. However, when a parishioner suggested that the preacher should shave his head instead, church members liked that idea so much that the deal was sealed.
Yeaney is keeping the suspense high by not announcing the total collected so far. “They just have to keep giving and giving,” he said. “They have to give by faith.”
On Easter Sunday, March 31, the Oakland treasurer will count the total, with each $10 given representing a life saved from malaria in Africa. If the congregation gives $2,000 or more, Yeaney will not only get a radical haircut. Two hundred or more lives will also be saved through the United Methodist Church’s multi-faceted mission to eliminate malaria by the end of 2015.
Holston Conference’s goal is to raise $1 million toward that end by June 9-12, when leaders of Holston’s 897 churches will meet for Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska, N.C. As of March 20, Holston had accomplished more than a third of the goal, with $370,740 collected to save 37,074 lives, according to LeRae Collins, Holston’s campaign coordinator. So far, 45 percent of Holston churches have contributed to the conference-wide emphasis.
SCARVES & PIZZA
While Yeaney might be giving his hair for a good cause, others are giving their talents. Before Christmas, Mary Hawkins knitted scarves to help fight the deadly mosquito-borne disease. She sold about 50 brightly colored creations, raising $700 to save 70 lives.
“To save a life with just 10 dollars: It’s so simple, so minimal, that everybody ought to be able to do something,” says the Knoxville District administrative assistant and member at Kodak UMC in Kodak, Tenn. “You can’t do nothing.”
At Chilhowie UMC in Chilhowie, Va., 14-year-old Avery Smith created a pizza-baking kit to raise money for Imagine No Malaria.
“He started by giving a speech to the congregation with a timer that went off every 60 seconds,” said Smith’s pastor, the Rev. Sarah Slack. The timer indicated that every 60 seconds, another person dies from malaria.
Smith then found recipes for four different kinds of pizzas (including a “Chilhowie Special” dessert pizza with apple butter made by the United Methodist Men). With the help of his mother, pastor, and fellow youth-group member Lauren Rhea, Smith then rolled out dough and assembled the topping ingredients.
He sold enough take-and-bake pizza kits to save the lives of 48 brothers and sisters in Africa.
MOVE IT Meanwhile, some pastors decided to get physical for the anti-malaria campaign. The Rev. Wil Cantrell, pastor at Lebanon Memorial UMC in Lebanon, Va., is training to run the Knoxville Marathon on April 7. His goal is to run 26.2 miles in under four hours. Church members have been challenged to pledge a dollar amount for every minute their pastor comes in under the four-hour mark.
In the Maryville District, the Rev. Charles Maynard will be walking and the Rev. Randy Pasqua will be biking for a campaign they call “The Next Mile.” The pastors will travel across the district during the week of April 21 — which has been dubbed “INM Activity Week,” said Collins. “World Malaria Day” also falls on April 25.
Maynard, Maryville District superintendent, and Pasqua, executive director of Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries, will visit churches during their week-long trek, raising money and awareness for the malaria-smiting mission.
At Kendricks Creek UMC in Kingsport, Tenn., the Rev. Susan Lankford looked for a way to “put a face” on the life-saving initiative. She chose the youngest member of the church – two-year-old Evie Crow – and brought her before the church.
“This is our precious child,” Lankford told the congregation. “If I told you that Evie might die, but $10 would save her life, who would not pull it out of their pockets?”
To date, Kendricks Creek – a congregation with 90 in average worship attendance – is among the top givers in the Kingsport District, raising $1,256 for the “Evie Fund,” Lankford said.
POOL NOODLES & PENNIES
Several churches have created special events to help fight the disease that kills so many children overseas.
Annette Spence is the communicator for the Holston conference.
Church Street UMC in Knoxville, Tenn., planned a special lunch with children’s art, music, and drama – and an opportunity to take a “swat” at a giant mosquito. The mosquito was the Rev. Darryll Rasnake in costume. The children (and their parents) donated $450 just for the fun of pelting the pastor with foam “pool noodles.”
Also in Knoxville, students at the University of Tennessee Wesley Foundation waged a “penny war” to raise $1,000 for Imagine No Malaria.
“Students formed teams of three and decorated mason jars with their team names,” said the Rev. Tim Kobler, Wesley Foundation director. “Money was collected on Wednesday and Sunday nights for a month. Pennies counted as one point in favor of the team. Any other coins or paper money counted as points against the team.”
Students encouraged others to donate pennies to their team and other forms of currency to the other teams, Kobler said. “We had six teams, and almost all of the Wesley Foundation students participated through making donations.”
Finally, the Hispanic congregations led by the Rev. Daniel Castillo found a way to save lives through a Saturday flea market in Alcoa, Tenn. Castillo is pastor at San Juan UMC, which meets at St. John UMC in Maryville, and Casa del Alfarero (Potter’s House) UMC, located in Philadelphia, Tenn.
“We gave away popcorn, snacks, beverages, did some face-painting and made balloon figures,” Castillo said. “Everything was free. We just asked for donations, and although donations were small, we raised $207 to save 20 lives.”
The San Juan congregation has set a goal to save 100 lives by Easter, Castillo said. Some families have set up collection jars at home where relatives can gather their spare change. Castillo’s own children have collected firewood and cans to help their church meet its goal.
“Our goal to save 100 lives is big for our people, since some have just enough for their own families,” he said. “But they put this goal before them, and something tells me we will succeed.”
By Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Excellency Joyce Banda
When you think of Africa, what words come to mind? Most likely they are words of challenge, disease, poverty and conflict. It is less likely that you think “innovation.” Yet it is innovation—by Africa and for Africa—that is helping empower us to tackle some of the continent’s most stubborn and difficult challenges.
To start with the obvious, there are the two of us. We are elected Heads of State, but also women and mothers (now grandmothers). And, as Africa’s first female Presidents, we are determined to improve the lives of women and children. Without addressing these needs we cannot achieve our broader goals of prosperity, equality, education or the level of environmental sustainability that will unlock Africa’s full potential.
Consider malaria. The scope of the challenge is staggering. The mosquito-borne disease killed 655,000 people in 2010, most of them children under five and pregnant women in Africa. As many as a third of all Malawians suffer from malaria every year, while a recent health facility survey in Liberia shows that 33 percent of inpatient deaths are caused by this disease. So the problem hits close to home.
The good news here is that significant progress is being made. Over the past decade, we have achieved a 33 percent reduction in malaria deaths in Africa, thanks to expanded access to proven tools like mosquito nets and the advent of new ones such as reliable rapid diagnostic tests and inexpensive, effective drugs that help us identify and treat malaria before it becomes life-threatening.
To continue our progress, we need to keep innovating. We are now on the verge of developing a malaria vaccine, the first against a parasite, that can turn the tide against this ancient plague. But we must also outpace the twin threats of drug and insecticide resistance or we risk losing the effective tools we have now.
Innovation was on display last week at the African Union Summit where the 43 members of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) logged into a new iPad application to track, share and compare our countries’ progress toward ending malaria deaths and other leading causes of maternal and child mortality.
Importantly, the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action (available online and on the iPad app) is an emergent model for progress and promise. It already tracks maternal and child health, including vaccinations among children under two years old, the percentage of pregnant HIV-positive woman receiving anti-retroviral medications and the percent of deliveries assisted by a skilled birth attendant.
Another highlight from the scorecard is the inclusion of new data monitoring progress towards the Abuja target of 15 percent national public sector financing for health. New data shows that in difficult global economic times, 14 countries in Africa have responded by increasing their domestic contribution to health by more than two percent. However, more needs to be done, as only Botswana, Rwanda, Togo and Zambia have achieved or exceeded the Abuja target.
Together with the United Against Malaria campaign and the Confederation of African Football, we announced a partnership to reach hundreds of millions of African sports fans with reminders to sleep under their insecticide-treated mosquito nets. We did this in collaboration with the continent’s most watched sporting event, the African Cup of Nations football tournament.
In the private sector, innovation and concrete returns are rewarded with further investment. The same ought to be true for public health, yet, despite all the progress we’ve seen, our greatest challenge is that we may not have the funding to follow through on this emerging success story.
Led by countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, and institutions such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Bank, the world has invested generously in malaria control. But to achieve universal access to life-saving tools and continue the drive toward eliminating malaria deaths, we need an additional $3.2 billion in funding over the next three years.
A share of these resources will come from Africa. We can’t ask the world to invest in Africa’s health if we won’t make the same investment ourselves, but we will need the world’s help.
Fortunately, there’s good reason to think this investment will pay off. A recent study issued by ALMA and the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria found that every dollar invested in malaria control in Africa generates, on average, $40 in GDP on the continent. And scaling up to universal coverage of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria by 2015 will prevent 640 million cases and avert 3 million malaria-related deaths.
Where else can you get that return? It’s an investment opportunity we cannot afford to miss. We are determined to improve the lives of women and children across Africa, and we will not let malaria stand in our way.
This article was taken from WWW.GHDNEWS.COM, the Global Health and Diplomacy magazine website. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is president of Liberia and Joyce Banda is president of Malawi.
By Barbara Dunlap-Berg
NOLENSVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) – A 13-year-old with a heart for others is using M&Ms to fight malaria – and winning.
Steven Errico, a seventh-grader at Sunset Middle School south of Nashville, Tenn., might not know the delicious chocolate candies made their debut during World War II. He does know every quarter he collects from vending-machine M&M sales will help Imagine No Malaria.
Following the lead of his 16-year-old brother, Steven and his mom brought two vending machines to the United Methodist Communications building in Nashville last autumn and posted a sign introducing Steven and explaining his mission.
“This is a business called ‘Steven’s Treats,’” the sign reads. “It’s a candy-machine business to help charities and to save for college. … Proceeds from this machine will go to Imagine No Malaria. Through your purchase, you are helping me learn math, business, investing, mechanics, salesmanship, computers and charity. Thank you for helping me help others.”
Steven, a budding video editor whose favorite subjects are Spanish and English, said his brother, Daniel, set a positive example. “He started (his vending business) when he was 9 and has learned a lot,” Steven said.
Sue Errico was homeschooling Daniel when the mother and son launched the business. “I was looking for something that was reality-based, not just looking through a workbook,” she explained.
Why give to charity?
“We have so much,” she said. “When you see the overabundance of what we have and know some people can’t afford clean water or a $10 insecticide-treated bed net, it’s important to realize helping others is our No. 1 priority.”
‘It’s the right thing to do’
What’s the biggest lesson for Steven so far?
“Good locations are hard to find,” he replied quickly. Getting businesses to buy into the idea can be tough, he acknowledged.
But his customers at United Methodist Communications are sold on the concept. “I buy the M&Ms because the money goes to Imagine No Malaria,” said administrative assistant Carol Terry. “I also want to ‘reward’ this young man for doing such a cool thing.”
“Any way we can support a young person trying to make a positive impact in this world I will try to help,” commented Steven Adair, who helps coordinate Rethink Church community events.
Customer service representative Audrey Dowlen buys Steven’s Treats, “knowing it’s a small price to pay to help the big fight against malaria.”
In their first three months at United Methodist Communications, the two vending machines grossed $33. That’s 132 handfuls of the tasty treats. The net profit for Imagine No Malaria, after subtracting the cost of giant bags of M&Ms to fill the machines, was $13. That’s a bed net – and then some!
Just a few short years ago, statistics showed a child died every 30 seconds of malaria. Today, because of the dedicated and generous support of people like Steven, malaria’s impact has been cut in half. According to the World Health Organization, this disease now claims a life every 60 seconds.
That is great news to young Steven, who dreams of going into the film business. If this initial foray into entrepreneurship is any indication, he’ll probably use his talents to serve others.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. Giving to Imagine No Malaria and other charities helps us to understand that what we have isn’t ours. It belongs to God.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.
By Bill Norton
RALEIGH, NC – What would happen if a church “imagined” during Advent what Jesus might want for his birthday?
That is exactly what members of the Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh did. Their Christmas Eve offering, designated for Imagine No Malaria, grew to $100,000 after all the gifts were counted.
“Throughout Advent, we tried to imagine things Jesus wanted for his birthday: families avoiding eviction, full bellies for children here in Raleigh and around the world, warmth on a cold night for those experiencing homelessness, and lives being saved by helping to eradicate Malaria,” said Renae Newmiller, director of Missions at Edenton Street.
Responding to mission is not new to the 4,000-member congregation in downtown Raleigh. In 1831, their pastor, Melville B. Cox, resigned from the pulpit and became the first American Methodist missionary sent to Africa. For over 200 years, Edenton Street has bucked the trend of many downtown churches and has grown by reaching out.
The church’s Vision Team summarizes the ongoing journey. “It is inviting all to encounter Jesus, preparing believers to deepen their dependence on God, caring for those who are hurting, and sending ordinary people into the world equipped to do extraordinary things,” said the Rev. Ned Hill, Edenton Street’s senior pastor.
With checks continuing to be received by the church in early January, Rev. Hill put the offering for Imagine No Malaria at least at $100,000.
“The response was most definitely more than we could have imagined,” said Newmiller.
In addition to having “imagine” as the theme of the Advent sermon series, the church’s Mission Possible publication in December announced that the Christmas Eve offering would be for Imagine No Malaria. Members were asked to consider “instead of another sweater or tie, consider giving this life-saving gift in honor of the healthy people on your Christmas list.” If a member would be out of town on Christmas Eve, they were urged to send a check to the church for Imagine No Malaria.
During four weeks leading to Christmas, the congregation was asked to imagine needs locally and globally.
“More than $24,000 was collected for our Doorstep Ministry, the Backpack Buddies food program closets at an elementary school went from bare to overflowing, A total of 60,612 Stop Hunger Now meals were packaged for impoverished children in third world countries, hundreds of blankets, coats, hats and gloves were brought to the church and distributed to people sleeping in homeless camps around Raleigh, and $100,000 was raised to combat Malaria,” said Newmiller.
While we imagined we could make a difference, God’s vision, as always, was much bigger than ours. As we enter 2013, our hope is to continue to imagine how we can be a part of God’s kingdom here on earth.” Newmiller said.
“This is just another extraordinary example of how the Imagine No Malaria key message of saving lives ignites the generosity of faithful United Methodist. I am personally thrilled by the compassionate response of this congregation and their willingness to respond globally and locally, said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, chair of Globabl Health Initiatives.”
Imagine No Malaria is an extraordinary ministry of The United Methodist Church, putting faith into action to end preventable deaths from malaria in Africa. The first expression of the United Methodist Church’s Global Health Initiative, Imagine No Malaria is an integrated effort that has become a model for collaboration among annual conferences, local churches, and multiple general boards and agencies of the church. The goal is to raise $75 million by June 2014. For more information, visit www.ImagineNoMalaria.org.
* Bill Norton is the North Carolina Conference director of communications and editor of the North Carolina Conference Christian Advocate.
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.