This is the third in a series of posts highlighting hunger-related activities happening at ELCA Outdoor Ministry locations with the help of Education/Advocacy grants from ELCA World Hunger. Today’s post comes from El Camino Pines in Frazier Park, California.
The game begins. The clock starts counting down. 120…119…118. We only have two minutes! I grab a ball and throw it across at the other team. I’m dodging items as if my life depended on it. I never thought a simple game of dodge ball could be so intense. I’m dodging, ducking, and jumping all over the place. In an open room, there is nowhere to hide. If I catch the ball, the person who threw it is out. But if I am hit I am out, and I am asked to leave the court. Sounds simple. But then more is added to it. We have stuffed mosquitoes flying around the room. If a mosquito hits me, I am told that I can continue to play, but I must play sitting. This rule seems a little odd, but I continue to play. 10… I notice that there aren’t many people left in the game. 9… All the sudden I feel like I am a deer in headlights. 8… I run and jump as if this is the last seconds of my life 7… I pick up a mosquito and aim for my opponent’s ankles. 6… I missed. 5… I look up. 4… 3… 2… 1. I was hit.
But it’s not the fact that I was hit that is really disappointing me. It’s that that one hit represents malaria infection rates. I had become a statistic. We play two more times, both of which we were able to heal ourselves with slips of papers that represent money or medicine. Once, my team had an abundance of money and medicine, and the other game, we did not. This showed us how much something like money and medicine can make a difference. It’s something that I don’t think about often. But I am blessed to live a life where I know that if I get sick, that I have the resources to take care of myself, and I don’t have to worry too much. This game helped to show me that not everyone is that fortunate.
After playing dodge ball, we processed the game, and learned a lot about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. Some facts were shocking, such as that a child dies from malaria every 45 seconds. But other facts were helpful! Knowing that there are very simple steps that can be taken to help control malaria is a very positive thing. And even though I am young, we talked about ways that I can make a difference! Here at camp, we make many friendship bracelets. We usually make them for the friends we make at camp, and we trade them away as a reminder of our week here. But camp is doing this really cool thing where we can make friendship bracelets to help with malaria in Africa! The program is called Knots for Nets. What we can do is make friendship bracelets, take them to our friends, families, neighbors, and congregations, and ask them for a $10 dollar donation towards Knots for Nets in exchange for a friendship bracelet! The $10 will go towards buying a bed net for our friends in Africa, so that they can sleep at night, without having to worry about being bit by a malaria infested mosquito. And in return, they will have a bracelet as a continual reminder of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. I’ve already started working on my bracelets! Have you?
For more information: www.knotsfornets.net
El Camino Pines
Editor’s Note: The Lutheran Malaria Initiative is a 5-year campaign within ELCA World Hunger. It’s goals are to expand the work of the church in addressing malaria, to provide an opportunity for current ELCA World Hunger supporters to deepen their engagement, and to invite new people and congregtation into the work of ELCA World Hunger.