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    Make Malaria History

    New hope for a malaria vaccine?

    Posted on December 22, 2011 by jessicanipp

    “Why don’t we just vaccinate babies against malaria? Wouldn’t that be the best way to combat the disease?”

    This question comes up often as I travel around the ELCA, giving presentations and workshops about the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

    And the answer is– yes, it really would be a very effective way to prevent malaria. However, there is not yet a viable vaccine. The best we can do is to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds,  create barriers between humans and mosquitoes (nets, long sleeves) or use an insecticide to kill the bugs.

    But… drum roll, please… in the next few years, a vaccine may emerge. Dozens– perhaps even hundreds– of studies are going on right now, attempting to perfect a vaccine that would provide cheap, easy coverage against malaria. Here’s one that shows a lot of promise.

    A Christmas prayer: God, guide the hands and the minds of the researchers who are working to find a vaccine against malaria. Position us to be ready to respond when new tools are developed, and inspire in us generosity of spirit and of pocketbook. In Christ, Amen.

    A Christmas letter for you

    Posted on December 20, 2011 by jessicanipp

    Dear friends, this is our ELCA Malaria Campaign Christmas letter this year. With it come our warm wishes and our sincere gratitude for your generosity!

    Dear friend,

    Mary and Joseph set off on foot toward Bethlehem, with only a donkey to help carry their burdens.  They walked and worried, waited and hoped. Mary prayed for the safety of the son in her womb.  And they walked on.

    The mother in Malawi sets off on foot toward the clinic, with nothing to help her carry her burden. She walks and worries, waits and hopes. She prays for the safety of the child in her arms, who is very hot all over and has begun to shake. And she walks on.

    We know the end of Mary and Joseph’s story—they make it safely to crowded Bethlehem.  Because there is no room at the inn, Mary labors and gives birth surrounded by animals and hay. The tiny baby, wrapped in bands of cloth against the cold, survives.

    But what about the end of the other story? The woman and her child, trekking miles to the nearest clinic to receive life-saving medication for malaria… do they make it in time? Is the clinic equipped to help them?

    Millions of times a year, this story plays out in Africa. A parent sets out in desperate hope to journey to the nearest hospital, praying to make it in time, to receive the medication that will allow the sick child to overcome malaria.

    And that’s the part of the story where we come in. Through your gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, you’ve enabled our companions in Africa to build clinics to make the perilous journey shorter. You’ve helped to ensure that there will be technology to diagnose and medication to treat the malaria that threatens to take the life of a child.

    Bishop Ambrose Moyo, bishop emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, shares his gratitude for your generosity.  “What you are doing here might feel small, but I assure you, in southern Africa the effects are very big.  We really appreciate you walking with us.  We see the ELCA as the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, inspiring a lot of hope. Together we are making an impact and saving lives.”

    And the life of a child is the best Christmas gift there is.

    We wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas season, filled with good health and God’s blessings.

    In peace,

    Jessica Nipp, diaconal minister
    Coordinator, ELCA Malaria Campaign

    “Flavorful Fall Fair” benefits ELCA Malaria Campaign

    Posted on December 12, 2011 by jessicanipp

    Here’s a wonderful story of creative fundraising that comes from the community of Jewell, IA.

    Colored turkeys await the results of the coloring contest voting at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Jewell, IA!

    Members of Bethesda Lutheran Church in Jewell, IA hosted a Flavorful Fall Fair on November 6 for the community of Jewell.  All proceeds from the evening benefited the ELCA Malaria Campaign, through the efforts of the Northeastern Iowa Synod.

    During the evening, baked and craft items donated by congregation members were sold.

    A coloring contest was held for all.  Winners of the coloring contest were determined by the amount of money (votes) given and prizes were awarded in each of 6 age groups.

    Bethesda Lutheran Church members and friends enjoy the abundance of the Flavorful Fall Fair, a fundraiser for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

    Beautiful tables were set and hosted by members of the congregation with approximately 110 in attendance.  In total, $2,562.71 was raised. This money will be  matched by church funds for a total contribution of $5,125.42.

    Thank you, Bethesda Lutheran Church in Jewell, IA and the Northeastern Iowa Synod!





    Zimbabwe Bishop Shares Malaria Stories

    Posted on December 9, 2011 by jessicanipp

    Sneak preview! This is an article that is slated for the January synod newsletter of the Northeastern Iowa Synod.  It tells of a visit to the synod last weekend by Bishop Ambrose Moyo, a Zimbabwean who serves as an ELCA missionary in southern Africa. The article was written by Marcia Hahn, synod communicator, Many thanks to Marcia for allowing us to post this sneak preview of her January article!

    Bishop Ambrose Moyo, former Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, former Director of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa, current ELCA missionary.

    Bishop Ambrose Moyo, former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, visited the Northeastern Iowa Synod in December to share some of his first-hand experiences about malaria in Africa and how the ELCA Malaria Campaign is making a difference. He gave presentations at Nazareth, Cedar Falls; Wartburg College, Waverly; and Washington Prairie, Decorah.

    Currently, Bishop Moyo serves as the facilitator for Accompaniment and Capacity Building in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa through the Global Mission Unit of the ELCA. He shared how the ELCA Global Mission staff gathered and started talking with people from Mozambique who told them that what they need most was a clinic. The ELCA people listened, and together we opened a clinic there in 2009.

    In another part of Mozambique, a mother came into an orphan program, pleading on behalf of the orphan she was keeping at home as his guardian. She asked for prayers for the child who was very sick. Moyo and the group prayed for him and then organized transportation to take him to the clinic, which was about 30 miles away.  The ELCA decided anther clinic was needed, and now they have it in a town called Munene.

    Bishop Ambrose Moyo and Pastor Brian King stand before the display that marks the fundraising progress at Nazareth Lutehran Church, Cedar Falls, IA. Bishop Moyo wears the purple prayer shawl that was given to him by the Prayer Shawl Ministry at Nazareth. The congregation at Nazareth has set a $40,000 fundraising goal!

    Bishop Moyo told about a school in Burure, Zimbabwe, with about 1,000 students. Every year between five and seven children who attend the school would die of malaria. Then a clinic was built, with mosquito nets, education and medical treatment available for the people of the village. This year, for the first time, no child died of malaria.

    Malaria is the number one problem in Zimbabwe, followed by water, then the distance to clinics. Moyo said that people are carried to clinics on carts drawn by donkeys or oxen. They are already very sick, and the roads are very bad. Many people die on the way to the hospital. The ELCA has responded by building clinics that have brought treatment and prevention programs closer to the people.

    Through the ELCA companion relationship, Moyo said that God is speaking to both organizations to work together and begin malaria programs that will save lives. That effort started in 2010 at the grassroots levels, with the church training and identifying focal persons who are nurses or who have been trained as health care workers. Those people become the coordinators in each country, going out and leading workshops in the communities to make sure everyone understands that malaria is preventable. They train others about the proper use of mosquito nets, the benefits of indoor spraying, and the need to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed. “These are things people did not understand in the past,” Moyo said.

    Bishop Ambrose Moyo shares stories of malaria in southern Africa with confirmation students at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church, Decorah, IA.

    No other organization in these countries is as connected as the churches, which Moyo said are almost everywhere. Most of the best hospitals in Zimbabwe and Mozambique are church run, and because they are run so well, Moyo said that the government is supplying some funding. To raise money for a clinic in Zimbabwe, the government has committed to matching one-to-one any funds raised to bring electricity to the clinic.

    “The church is very highly respected by the community and by the politicians,” Moyo said. “The church is in places where no one else goes.”

    Moyo said that the work being done here in Iowa may feel small, but in Southern Africa, the effects are very big. “We really appreciate you walking with us,” Moyo said. “We see the ELCA as the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, inspiring a lot of hope. We hope that together we can make an impact, and change lives.”

    Malaria Angels

    Posted on December 5, 2011 by jessicanipp

    This past Sunday I had the honor of visiting Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Chicago Heights, Illinois. The ladies’ group there had organized a beautiful Advent fund-raiser for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. I think I’ll let the pictures tell the story!

    A malaria net angel, hand-crafted with love! Her tag says "Thank you for supporting the ELCA Malaria Campaign. By purchasing this angel you have provided a mosquito net to protect someone from malaria."

    These tags hung on a Christmas tree in the sanctuary. For each angel sold, a tag was removed. $10 of the purchase price of each angel went to the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

    Women of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church sell the malaria net angels that they've created.

    A surgeon against malaria

    Posted on December 5, 2011 by jessicanipp

    Dr. James Dennis is a surgeon and an ELCA member who lives in Florida. He’s also a strong supporter of, and volunteer for, the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

    Here’s a great photo of Dr. Dennis (right) with Bishop Ambrose Moyo of Zimbabwe (on the left) and me (in the middle).

    Dr. Dennis explained to us why he, as a surgeon, is especially interested in malaria.

    “Surgeons like things that you can do, and fix, and be done with,” he said. “Our philosophy is simple: cure the patient.”

    And as we all know, malaria is both preventable and treatable. So in one way, it’s a surgeon’s dream.

    “We can be done with malaria,” Dr. Dennis said. “Eventually, someday, malaria will no longer be the scourge that it is in some areas. In our lifetime, we won’t see the end of hunger. It’s a long-term project. But malaria can be eradicated now.”

    His Christian Lutheran identity also informs Dr. Dennis’s interest in malaria. “It’s a medical injustice that malaria affects those living in poverty so disproportionately,” he explains. He sees it as part of his Christian vocation to work on the eradication of this disease of poverty.

    Thank you, Dr. James Dennis, for your commitment to the ELCA Malaria Campaign and for sharing your story!

    – Jessica Nipp
    Coordinator, ELCA Malaria Campaign