ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 23, 2010
Lutheran Youth Lead Efforts to Fight Malaria, Build Awareness
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Melanie Ferraro, a senior high school student, is working to get 1,600 of her peers to care about malaria -- a preventable, treatable disease that kills more than 1 million people a year. Ferraro, a member of Lutheran Church of Hope, Broomfield, Colo., said people her age can make a "difference for positive change."
Lutheran Church of Hope is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In August 2009, the ELCA churchwide assembly authorized the continued development of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) -- an initiative to educate U.S. Lutherans about malaria, advocate for global health initiatives and raise funds to help combat the disease.
Ferraro began her effort shortly after the assembly's action.
Members of the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) of the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod "decided they would try to raise money to support LMI," Ferraro told the ELCA News Service. She said the LYO's goal is to raise $75,000 by the synod's assembly next month. To date high-school-age Lutherans in the synod have received $67,000 in commitments toward their goal. The synod assembly is May 27-29.
The financial commitments started in November 2009 at the synod's senior high youth gathering in Estes Park, Colo., said Ferraro. "Each kid there was challenged to pledge $100 and encourage congregations in the synod to pledge $1,000," she said.
"Although we can't see the effects our money may have in (fighting) the disease, it's been cool to see that kids in our synod are feeling empowered through the challenge," said Ferraro. "It's the youth taking leadership. They're saying, 'We can do this.' The energy among the kids has snowballed since the youth gathering. We made T-shirts for sale, with the proceeds going to LMI, and on the back of the shirt it says, 'I am the change.' This is very empowering. We're standing up for something, and it feels like we're leading the church."
LMI is a partnership of the ELCA, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran World Relief. It is made possible in part through a partnership with the United Nations Foundation.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease, and it is a serious public health threat in Africa. One way to help prevent malaria is to sleep under a net, according to the Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, coordinator for LMI and the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS, ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop.
Lutherans can purchase insecticide-treated bed nets and arrange for the nets to be delivered to someone in Africa through "Lutheran Nothing But Nets" at http://lutheranmalaria.org/nets on the Web. LMI is partnering with "Nothing But Nets" -- a grassroots campaign "to prevent malaria by raising awareness and funds to purchase and distribute bed nets and save lives," according to its Web site.
In addition, to help bring awareness about malaria prevention, Nothing But Nets is hosting "Sleep Out to End Malaria" -- a national effort where participants sleep overnight April 24 under protective bed nets. The effort precedes "World Malaria Day" April 25.
"Malaria is a daily crisis in the lives of our companion church members in Africa. Our engagement in the Lutheran Malaria Initiative is our way to fight and contain the disease," said DeGroot-Nesdahl.
Information about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative is at http://www.ELCA.org/malaria on the ELCA Web site, and the ELCA Rocky Mountain Synod's LYO is at http://rmslyo.org on the Internet.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com