United Methodists Join Nothing But Nets Malaria Campaign

The Nothing But Nets malaria campaign has gained momentum over the past six months with incredible response from Americans nationwide, and added on to its list of partners are United Methodists.

Sports Illustrated, the United Nations Foundation, the National Basketball Association's foundation NBA Cares and now the people of The United Methodist Church have joined forces to launch a grassroots campaign to send mosquito nets to Africa, where thousands of children die every day from malaria.

When Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly urged Americans that "we need nets ... mosquito nets," more than 17,000 people responded to his May 5th column with US$10 donations. Over US$1.2 million was collected which bought more than 100,000 insecticide treated nets to prevent malaria.

As Christians push harder for the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals, especially the eradication of poverty, United Methodist Bishop Thomas Bickerton said the Nothing But Nets campaign "fits in to the whole issue of eradicating poverty."

Plus, "anyone, anywhere" can contribute aid to children in Africa, said Bickerton, according to the United Methodist Service.

With the United Methodists' long experience with malaria work, Elizabeth McKee, director of marketing for the United Nations Foundation said it was a "natural synergy" for them to join the campaign.

"This natural blending of the sacred and secular...is a wonderful possibility for 21st century ministry," commented Bickerton.

Bickerton is looking to mobilise youth and other ministries in the church to become aware of the inexpensive campaign with such tools as text message updates and a special website through www.UMC.org in conjunction with the campaign's website www.nothingbutnets.net, which was launched 14 November. Gatherings such as the United Methodist Board of Discipleship's Youth 2007 meeting in July will also help engage youth in the initiative.

Nothing But Nets has partnered with the Measles Initative to distribute the nets throughout Africa in 2007 and 2008. In October, 150,000 nets were distributed in Nigeria.

Contributions go to purchases and the distribution of the nets as well as to community workers who educate families on how to use the insecticide-treated bed nets.

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