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ELCA Malaria Campaign reaches $14.5 million toward $15 million goal

6/30/2015 11:35:00 AM

​     CHICAGO (ELCA) – In their commitment to help end malaria-related deaths in Africa, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have contributed $14.5 million to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, $500,000 shy of the campaign goal of $15 million by the end of 2015. Through the campaign, ELCA members and others have joined with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria and educate communities about the disease.
     “The greatest difference made by the ELCA Malaria Campaign has been in saving the lives of children and preventing a disease that robs families of their livelihood,” said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “We have long known that by reducing the number of times that a child contracts malaria, it is possible to change the trajectory of their future for the rest of their lives.”
     Approved by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign supports programs that provide mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care, education and more. As a result of campaign contributions, malaria programs in 10 countries have been fully funded. The final $500,000 to be raised will complete funding for malaria programs in Burundi, Central African Republic and Namibia.
     Jessica Nipp Hacker, director of ELCA Donor Relations and Donor Stewardship and former ELCA Malaria Campaign coordinator, said that as a result of the $14.5 million in contributions from ELCA members and congregations, the church is “part of a global movement that has slashed malaria deaths in half in Africa. The programs we support have empowered more than 2 million people to keep their families and their communities safe from malaria.”
     “One of the great benefits of this continent-wide effort to control malaria is the possibility that the disease will be significantly reduced in whole regions,” Rift said. “But that happens only if rural communities are involved in prevention and treatment. In most of the areas where the ELCA Malaria Campaign has been at work, no other organization has been able to get access to treatment and prevention and educate communities about effective implementation. In many locations the ELCA Malaria Campaign has helped to build up the skills and capabilities of our companions and partners.”
     In Burundi, the ELCA Malaria campaign supports the Lutheran World Federation-Burundi malaria program. Because the disease intensifies the cycle of poverty and hunger, the malaria program is fundamental to the overall economic stability of the community. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 145 churches representing more than 72 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
     In an ELCA Malaria Campaign blog post, Bugera Barnabe, program coordinator for Lutheran World Federation-Burundi, described the importance of the malaria program in Burundi's Cankuzo province.
     “In implementing our community programs, we came to see so many people suffering from malaria; so many resources going to malaria,” said Barnabe. “Malaria was taking the time of the people. It was taking the resources of the people. We thought if we don't deal with malaria, then there will be no community development ever. If we don't deal with malaria, all other outcomes will be jeopardized completely.”
     Rift said communities that have experienced a reduction in malaria-related deaths “are now ready to take on new challenges.
     “It will be continued gifts to ELCA World Hunger that will help with those next opportunities,” he said. “The work to address malaria often becomes a starting point to a future that includes overcoming other sources of hunger. Hope in the face of malaria brings opportunity to claim hope in the face of additional challenges.”
     Challenges addressed by ELCA World Hunger include economic development to build up sustainable communities, support for better agricultural methods, initiatives to supply safe water and sanitation, and attention to other health-related issues and diseases facing children.
     “The ELCA Malaria Campaign has been a great gift to communities in 13 African nations,” said Rift. “Likewise it has been a gift to the church, opening doors of new possibilities to stand with those who are living with challenges that can overwhelm. For us all, this commitment to address malaria has planted seeds of possibility for life and abundance.”
     The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of 10 priorities of 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.
     Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at www.ELCA.org/malaria.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 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.

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Candice Hill Buchbinder
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