Tag Archives: HIV/AIDS

imagine no more malaria

Malaria is a killer. Millions of our family suffer and die annually from this deadly disease.

The United Methodist Church is actively combating the spread of malaria. This piece by Antonia Blumberg in the Huffington Post tells a little of the story. My small congregation of 50 folks at Forest Road UMC has already raised over $1,500 toward this effort.

Working together we can change the world. Never doubt it.

United Methodist Church Raises Millions In Small Donations To Fight Malaria

The Huffington Post  |  By Antonia Blumberg

Posted: 04/23/2015 4:35 pm EDT Updated: 04/23/2015 4:59 pm EDT

The United Methodist Church gave $9.6 million on Wednesday to the Global Fund, a health-focused nonprofit based in Geneva, to help the group fight malaria. It was the single largest contribution to the fund by a faith organization, and was made possible largely through grassroots efforts by congregants.

Local fundraising efforts, ranging from lemonade stands to car washes to 5K runs, provided the bulk of the sum, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton told The Huffington Post, with the average contribution amounting to just $87.31.

“It’s been a phenomenal response from the grassroots to this worldwide campaign,” he said.

Global Fund Executive Director Dr. Mark Dybul confirmed to HuffPost that UMC’s donation will go specifically toward the fund’s efforts against malaria.

Bickerton and Rev. Gary Henderson, who run the UMC’s Imagine No Malaria initiative, presented the gift to Dybul at a Wednesday ceremony in Washington, D.C. The ceremony was one of many events being held around the world in the lead-up to World Malaria Day on April 25, which addresses one of the U.N.’s eight Millennium Development Goals: to “combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.”

The bishop told HuffPost that the $9.6 million sum included “a few major gifts,” but “the majority was done through local United Methodist congregations.”

“Some congregations raise $500, some raise $5,000,” Bickerton added, “but it all adds up to — to date — 66 million dollars raised for Imagine No Malaria by millions of United Methodists.”

In 2010, the UMC set an overall goal of raising $75 million to fight malaria, $28 million of which the church has pledged to Global Fund. Wednesday’s check of nearly $10 million was the result of 18 months of fundraising, Bickerton said. Dybul noted that the gift far exceeds the monetary contributions from other faith organizations.

“The United Methodist Church is the one faith-based organization that provides large direct contributions to the fund,” he said.

The Global Fund has an annual budget of $4 billion a year, Dybul said, which it funnels largely into grants for local organizations and governments in countries affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. These grants are meant to support educational programming, improved health services and the buying and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets.

Although no other religious group comes close to the UMC’s monetary contributions, Dybul said faith organizations play a critical role in fighting malaria in the areas affected by the disease.

“The faith community is deeply involved in implementing programs,” he explained. “They’re the ones distributing bed nets and making sure people sleep under them. It’s the faith community on the ground that often gets to the people who often aren’t reached.”

Jem Jebbia, a Master of Divinity candidate at the University of Chicago Divinity School, worked on malaria prevention in Malawi in 2009 as part of a faith-based fellowship with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. During her time in Malawi, Jebbia saw the power of faith groups to serve the health needs of their communities.

“Muslim and Christian communities came together to pool their resources to stock and build health clinics,” she told HuffPost. “They also tried to promote awareness of how to use a bed net and why malaria can kill people.”

But Jebbia cautioned that malaria does not exist in a vacuum. Community workers have the difficult task of not only fighting malaria, she noted, but also addressing other Millennium Development Goals, like child and maternal health, that can be compromised if combating disease is the only focus.

“[Malaria is] such a multifaceted problem that in order to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals you have to work on all of them at once,” she told HuffPost.

Bickerton says he is cognizant of this challenge, arguing that Wednesday’s donation is just one step in what needs to be a long-term campaign to end the disease. The bishop said he’s been paying attention to this issue since he first traveled to sub-Saharan Africa on a missionary trip in 1986, where he saw firsthand the devastating effects of poverty and disease.

“What I encountered there changed my whole life,” he recalled. In the five years since the UMC began its campaign to raise $75 million to fight malaria, Bickerton says he’s seen others in his religious community become ignited with the same passion to make a difference.

“We’ve been surprised at the resiliency of our people,” Bickerton said. “This has remained a front-page issue in their minds, and we need them to continue to fight to reach the end goal. That takes a lot of marketing and communications on our part.”

Many other faith organizations are working toward the various Millennium Development Goals. The World Bank, which is focused on the first of the goals, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, announced in April that it is partnering with a coalition of 35 religious groups worldwide in an effort to end extreme poverty by 2030. The coalition includes Bread for the World, Islamic Relief International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Sojourners.

“Our approach to this staggering need must be holistic, rooted in the spiritual visions of our respective faiths, and built on a shared recognition of the intrinsic dignity and value of every life on Earth,” the coalition said in a call to action.

World AIDS Day

Today is World Aids Day. HIV/AIDS is always linked to hunger and malnutrition.

In many countries in Africa the death toll from HIV/AIDS has left millions of orphans that struggle daily  to find sufficient food.  At the same time food production suffers from lack of productive workers.

Those suffering from HIV/Aids cannot take antiretroviral medicine with sufficient food,even if it is available. The medicine must be taken with food. Ending hunger will help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

I learned another fact about HIV/AIDS and hunger this morning:

Malnourished people living with HIV are two to six times more likely to die when starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) compared to people with optimal nutritional status.” –  Ertharin Cousin, Director of WFP

the first 1,000 days revisited

My June 3rd post, 1,000 days to change the future, focused on the need to address undernutrition during critical window between conception and a child’s second birthday. Focusing on this first critical 1,000 days of a child’s life can not only spell the difference between life and death, it can be the deciding factor for a child’s health and well-being for the rest of his or her life.

Investing in improved nutrition during a child’s first 1,000 days is vital for enabling children to live healthier and more productive lives. Studies have demonstrated that providing proper nutrition for children during this 1,000 day window can accomplish more than we can even begin to imagine. Providing proper nutrition during this window can:

  • save more than 1,000,000 lives every year
  • significantly reduce the burden of major diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS
  • reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and other chronic conditions later in life
  • improve an individual’s educational and earning potential.

There is also evidence that shows providing proper nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can increase a county’s GDP by at least 2-3 percent annually.

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical for providing a healthier and more prosperous future.  Proper nutrition during this period is one of the best investment of resources we can make, and solutions to make this happen are readily available. These solutions are both affordable and cost-effective. Simple solutions include:

  • Ensuring mothers and infants get the necessary vitamins and minerals they need
  • Promoting good nutritional practices (such as breastfeeding), and appropriate foods that are healthy for infants
  • providing special therapeutic foods for malnourished infants

Addressing a child’s nutritional needs during the first 1,000 days of life is a simple, yet powerful way to change the future. Ensuring proper nutrition for children during their first 1,000 days is an investment toward achieving lasting progress toward global health…and a world without hunger.

 

our hell will be far worse

War is hell. I know. I have experienced it.

Hunger is hell. I know. I have seen it

I have seen war and I have seen hunger. Nothing can adequately prepare you for either.

Experiencing the violence of combat is terrifying.

Seeing a starving child is terrifying. Seeing the parents of a starving child is even more terrifying.

I know. I have held far too many malnourished and starving children in my arms…Over the past 35 years I have learned that basic humanity demands more than platitudes for the hungry. Morality demands more than compassion. Morality demands action.

I have watched children so hungry here in the US they’ve torn into a 50 lb. bag of potatoes, stuffing raw potatoes into their mouths, gnawing through the dirt to put something in their bellies.

I have watched elderly women, mothers & grandmothers kneel in the frozen Afghanistan mud to pick up individual grains of wheat fallen from bags of relief food.

I have talked with 14 & 15 year old commercial sex workers in Zambia who prostitute themselves so they can eat. When I asked about the threat of HIV/AIDS their answer was as direct as it was chilling:

“If I get AIDS I know I will die, but it will be 3 or 4 years. If I have no food I will starve very quickly.”

I have watched grieving mothers holding their malnourished infants too weak to save. The pain in their eyes will follow me to my grave.

Hunger is hell. And we allow it to exist. If there is any justice in the world our hell will be far worse and for eternity.