CHICAGO (ELCA) – In observance of World Malaria Day April 25, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is striving to raise $250,000 by May 2 to help begin anti-malaria work in Namibia, where 73 percent of the population is at risk of contracting the deadly disease.
The ELCA Malaria Campaign, launched by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, seeks to raise $15 million by the end of 2015. Through the campaign, ELCA members have joined with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria, educate communities about the disease and more. To date, the campaign has raised $11.3 million of the $15 million goal.
“This year, our World Malaria Week offerings will be designated for the Lutheran malaria program in Namibia,” said Jessica Nipp Hacker, ELCA Malaria Campaign coordinator. She said the campaign is “leading us into the future” by coordinating “with the Lutheran-led HIV and AIDS programming in Namibia, as well as targeting underlying causes of poor health such as poverty.”
Nipp Hacker said the integrated approach “will allow our companions to incorporate new programs within existing infrastructures to reach out to affected populations as efficiently and effectively as possible, and ultimately to reduce deaths from malaria, HIV and AIDS and other diseases of poverty.”
“The malaria program will be one of the initial activities that will put the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia into action in the fight against social problems,” said the Rev. Gerson Newila, director of diakonia and social services and coordinator of malaria efforts for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia. “The malaria program is ready to get in action. With ELCA Malaria Campaign funding, the capacity of the church will be strengthened to understand and fight malaria, other diseases, and to respond to other social challenges.”
Although malaria is preventable and treatable, each year more than 200 million people worldwide become infected with the disease and more than 600,000 people die, many of these children under 5. Ninety percent of all malaria-related deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2011, there were a reported 4,540 malaria-related deaths in Zambia. Since then, the ELCA Malaria Campaign has worked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia and the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Africa to educate leaders and pastors about malaria prevention and treatment, which included the distribution of almost 3,000 mosquito nets to vulnerable households.
“We are happy because everyone in our congregation has received a (mosquito) net, including our children,” said Mr. Manjomba, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia. “Starting from now, we are going to sleep well rather than sleepless nights we always had, being bitten by mosquitoes and suffering from malaria. We are now saying bye-bye to malaria.”
“We are grateful to know that our financial contributions are helping wipe out malaria and dramatically improve the lives of our sisters and brothers in Africa,” said the Rev. David Asendorf, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Catonsville, Md.
“When we became aware of the pressing need to end the scourge of malaria, our congregation became inspired to help the ELCA and the host of other church bodies, nonprofits and governments to make a positive difference. We know that God is calling us to share from our deep abundance to join this important endeavor,” said Asendorf.
The ELCA Malaria Campaign’s week-long appeal will be matched up to $100,000 by a group of anonymous donors. Nipp Hacker said the goal of $250,000 will be “enough to support the Lutheran malaria program in Namibia for its first full year.”
“The ELCA and our Lutheran companions in Africa are honored to be participants in the global movement to end malaria,” Nipp Hacker said. “Since the year 2000, deaths from malaria in Africa have been reduced by one-half. Global action against malaria saves 700 lives a day. But as long as children continue to die from a disease that is preventable and treatable, our work is not finished.”
The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of the initiatives included in the ELCA’s five-year comprehensive campaign, “Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA.” Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church.
More information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign appeal is available here
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.