November 14, 2013
Entering the John Street United Methodist Church at 98 John Street, Camden, one is struck by the sight of green bows pinned to the backs of many of the red chairs. Then, eyes gazing toward the chancel, a hanging “veil” at the front of the church is visible. Each green bow on a chair represents a $10 contribution. Each $10 donated equals a life saved.
What is that all about? The church is bringing attention to a three year effort by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church to stamp out the dreadful disease of Malaria. The title of the campaign is “Imagine No Malaria”. Its mission statement: “Imagine No Malaria is an extraordinary ministry of the people of the United Methodist Church, putting faith into action to end preventable deaths from malaria in Africa, especially the death of a child or a mother.”
Church members have learned some stark facts about the disease which claims the lives of an estimated 655,000 Africans each year, mostly children under 5 and pregnant women. Malaria is a parasite transmitted through the night-time bite of a mosquito, and is 100% preventable, treatable and beatable.
The effort was originally entitled “Nothing but Nets” under which the death rate fell by 50%, from a death every 30 seconds to a death every 60 seconds. The new effort is working to empower endangered communities to improve medical services and communication to educate Africans and sustain a victory over malaria. For this goal to be achieved, the “Imagine No Malaria” across the country aims to raise $75 million.
The malaria-prevention nets are simply made from 4 yards of voile, knotted and draped to create a tent anchored with stones at the bottom. The net hanging at the John Street United Methodist Church could be hung from a tree and anchored to the ground, providing a sleeping space free of mosquitos.