When we first discussed the idea of a diocese-wide NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund effort in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in the summer of 2010, there were many unknowns. There was never a doubt that we would respond affirmatively to support this Episcopal Relief & Development campaign for malaria prevention. However, deciding the parameters led us to ask many questions of ourselves. Now – one successful NetsforLife® campaign later – we have our answers.
Raising funds for 40,000 malaria nets was a big goal. Without this target, however, we would not have accomplished some of our very impressive results. Reaching for such high numbers encouraged parishes to stretch, be creative, work together, engage non-parishioners and make significant commitments to the campaign. Nearly 80 percent of our parishes, missions and diocesan organizations participated in the campaign, and it has brought out the best in members of our diocese.
Purchased nets were our measuring stick for the campaign, but saving lives was our real goal. At the time of this year’s diocesan convention in January, we were excited to have raised enough to purchase and distribute 33,531 insecticide-treated nets to villages in sub-Saharan Africa – potentially saving 100,593 lives. Accompanying the nets will be critical community training and education on how to use and care for them and how to recognize symptoms of malaria. NetsforLife® volunteers will also return to communities to confirm that the initial training has succeeded.
Mosquito nets continue to be effective in the fight against malaria. Incidences of malaria are decreasing, but the disease remains a chronic problem in sub-Saharan Africa. The reality is that even though our successful diocesan campaign has concluded, the fight to end malaria and support the Millennium Development Goals continues.
Being one of the campaign leaders, I had the good fortune to be in a position to see our diocese at its finest. From the grassroots of parishes and communities through the Episcopal Church Women, youth groups and schools, I saw enthusiasm and generosity in young and old, and from one end of our diocese to the other. The NetsforLife® campaign has been a blessing to our diocese and to me personally.
Reid Joyner is the Episcopal Relief & Development Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, and Chair of the NetsforLife® in North Carolina Campaign Steering Committee.
Photo: The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry (left), Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, with Reid Joyner. Courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.