Here’s another World Malaria Day post from our friends at The United Methodist Church. A few ONE members also shared their story about this event yesterday on our blog.
On World Malaria Day, we celebrated the official launch of a new campaign by The United Methodist Church called Imagine No Malaria, a $75 million initiative to eliminate death and suffering from malaria.
To mark the celebration, a free concert with Christian rock band Jars of Clay was held in Austin, Texas. The entire community was invited to join the festivities, which included local music, family activities and food from area restaurants.
The crowd was celebrative and attentive. Many had slept under nets the night before and heard stories about the effects of malaria in Africa. They applauded videos played on a jumbotron telling personal stories of the disease’s impact and they cheered when it was announced that thanks to a generous gift that same afternoon, the campaign surpassed its first year goal of $10 million.
As I stood watching Jars of Clay perform on the steps of the Texas State Capitol, I could not help but think about another performance ten days before in the Democratic Republic of Congo nearly 9,000 miles away.
The occasion was a public celebration to kick off a community-wide distribution of 30,000 bed nets to families in the Bongonga neighborhood of Lubumbashi. The stage was set in what had been, a day earlier, a filthy trash dump surrounded by pools of fetid water.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka, an African singer of continent-wide renown and adoration, was the celebrity attraction. And when she called the children to come forward toward the stage, there was a rush of tiny limbs and legs the likes of which I’ve never seen before. They screamed and reached out to her, they danced and created a dust storm, they smiled and the day seemed to come alive in a new way.
This is what we are working for. It’s about these little children having a fair chance to live full, long productive lives. And it’s clear in their innocence with their bright smiles and dancing feet these little faces deserve that chance. They deserve to have a future in which life is more than a struggle to survive each day.
If we keep those faces in mind and work in partnership, the world can reduce the suffering and death caused by this ages-old disease. Being part of a movement to accomplish this is deeply moving and wonderfully exciting.
-Reverend Larry Hollon, Chief Executive, United Methodist Communications