Did you know that if every ELCA member gave just $4 to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, we would reach our goal? That’s one of the things that many ELCA youth learned last week.
The ELCA Malaria Campaign Team (Jessica and Allison) had a fabulous week at the ELCA Youth Gathering! We were graciously hosted by ELCA World Hunger within their 100 Wells space inside the Practice Peacemaking exhibit area in the Convention Center, and we welcomed thousands upon thousands of youth to our interactive area.
Here’s how it worked: 100 Wells had a “Walk for Water” challenge, a simulation exercise that allowed youth to experience what it might be like to be a woman or a child living in a village with no running water. These women and children walk an average of 3.7 miles per day to retrieve water for their families to use for cooking, cleaning, bathing and drinking. The simulation included a few obstacles– a heat room to help participants experience what it might be like to carry water in typical tropical weather, a ramp to simulate uneven road, and–here’s where we come in–a pool of stagnant water that harbored lots of hungry mosquitoes!
Participants encountering this area of stagnant water were inevitably bitten by a mosquito. But did they contract malaria from that mosquito bite? They had to wait until the end of the track to find out!
After they were finished carrying water, participants came to the ELCA Malaria Campaign Clinic, where the Malaria “SWAT Team” diagnosed their mosquito bites (with the help of a black-light flashlight) and had some conversation about what malaria is, what the ELCA Malaria Campaign is doing about it, and how they can be a part of the effort.
We were overwhelmed by the positive response of youth and youth leaders. Many promised to go back to their congregations and educate them about the impact of malaria in the world, how we are working together with many Lutheran church bodies in Africa to address the problem, and how they can be a part of the ELCA’s efforts. They got excited about the possibility of raising $4 (or more!) for each member of their congregation.
The ELCA Malaria Campaign had a second presence at the Youth Gathering as well– within the space called “The Wall and Making us Whole.” There, we debuted an interactive software that we’re calling “The Malaria Story.” The software is perfect for youth or adults, and does a great job of introducing the problem of malaria, the ELCA’s work and the possibilities for involvement. Try out the interactive experience here!
An outpouring of support from ELCA members and congregations has already led to $4 million in gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign. That is a fantastic start, and it means we have $11 million left to raise. Together, we can make it happen!
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