Archives for posts with tag: Imagine No Malaria

Dikembe Mutombo is a big man. Not just in physical statue but in reputation and influence. He is a retired professional basketball player that stands 7 feet 2 inches tall. But his humanitarian efforts cause him to stand much taller.

Mutombo wears a size 22 shoe but he hMutombo 1as left much larger footprints through his determined efforts to provide health care for the people of his native  Democratic republic of Congo.

Dikembe played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times and was an eight-time NBA All Star. He is commonly called the one of  the greatest shot blockers of all time, surpassed in the NBA only by Hakeem Olajuwon. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

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If you don’t know Dikembe Mutombo, you don’t know much about professional basketball in the United States. If you know him, you are well aware that his trademark is a “finger wag” after blocking a shot. Today that finger wag is used in the face of life threatening diseases like malaria.

Outside basketball Mutombo has become known for his humanitarian work. He paid for uniforms and expenses for the Congo women’s basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. He is a spokesman for the international relief agency, CARE, and a long time supporter of Special Olympics.

Mutombo contributed $15 million to fulfill a lifelong dream in 2007 by opening the doors to the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center. This is the first hospital that has been built in the capitol city of Democratic Republic of Congo. The 300-bed hospital will provide health care to people in Kinshasa where Mutombo was born. The hospital was named BiambaMarieMutomboHospital, for his late mother, who died of a stroke in 1997 at age 64.

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Mutombo continues to work to eradicate childhood diseases like malaria that prevent one in five children in the sub-Sahara Africa from reaching age 5.

Last Thursday night Mutombo attended a gathering of folks in downtown Atlanta who are engaged in the fight to eradicate malaria. I stood beside a giant- not because of his physical statue but because of his passion to improve the lives of others.

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“It is a lesson of life,” Mutombo said. “We all are here for a purpose. My purpose is to make a difference to society, not just by being a good human being, but to contribute to lives. I’m changing lives and the living condition of my people.”

Jesus said he came so that people could live life to the fullest (John 10:10 CEB). “Abundant life” (KJV). The Message translates those words to indicate that his purpose was to provide “real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

I think that includes quality of life during our time on Earth as well as eternal life in the hereafter and I am glad for people like Mutombo who give themselves as co-workers with Christ to that end.

Jamie Jenkins

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As the wipers cleared the rain from my windshield I saw a woman with a small boy in tow. They did not have an umbrella or anything to keep them dry in this summer downpour. They probably lived in one of the many apartments along this street near my house. I suspected that they heading for the bus stop which was a couple blocks away. The rain was so heavy that they would be soaked before they got to the shelter.

I wanted to help but I did not know how.

Although my motive would have been pure, you just don’t stop on the street and offer people a ride. Even when the weather is bad.

Since I drive an electric vehicle (EV) most of the time, I don’t have to get gasoline for my car. But the hotdogs at the QT are the best- and they are inexpensive. So I occasionally stop in and get a hotdog loaded with ketchup, mustard, onions, sauerkraut.

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One day recently as I got out of my car to go inside to prepare my “nutritious” and cheap meal, a young man standing nearby asked if I had any spare change. Should I give him money? Should I offer to buy him some food? Should I ignore him? I wanted to help but I was not sure of what to do.

During the years I served as pastor of a local church there were many occasions when persons would stop by the church or my house (everybody seemed to know where the Methodist minister lived) in need of financial assistance. The stories were all too similar. Their grandparent or parent had died and they were traveling to the funeral when they had car trouble that took all their money. They needed money for gas, food, or lodging. Often there were small children in the car.

I always wanted to help but I was not always sure what to do.

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Every time I am approached by someone seeking assistance (handout) I am conflicted. I want to help but frequently I feel like I am being scammed. Even when I sense that the need is legitimate I am not sure what will really help and what will simply encourage irresponsibility. If I “help,” I am troubled with whether I did right or not. If I refuse the request for assistance, I wonder if this is one of the times when I failed to be compassionate.

I don’t think I will ever get past the dilemma described above. There will always be situations when I just won’t know what to do. I will continue to struggle to be caring but not an “easy mark.” I will be a sucker on some occasions and I will probably be a stingy Grinch at other times. I am reconciled to that reality.

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However, I have found a way to be compassionate,  generous, and responsible with the resources God has entrusted to me. I give to the church that nurtures me because I know it is a good investment in the health and well being of many people locally and globally. I also give to organizations and causes that really meet the needs of humans beings and have proven to be trustworthy and wise in the way they use the funds provided to them.

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When I see homes being built for families that otherwise could never afford one, I know that Habitat for Humanity is a good choice for my donations. Knowing what Compassion International does in places of extreme poverty around the world, I feel comfortable providing support through them. I have seen the good work and gladly support Action Ministries Atlanta as they seek to lead people out of poverty by providing hunger relief and educational opportunities to our metro area neighbors in need. Honduras Outreach, Inc. has transformed lives in rural Honduras and now in Nicaragua.

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Since I am a United Methodist, I support many of the agencies and ministries of the United Methodist Church that have proven themselves to be effective in serving the needs of people.  The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur has been serving children and their families since 1871. Murphy Harpst Children’s Center in Cedartown provides a safe and nurturing environment where severely abused and neglected children can heal and thrive. I have seen the benefits of Wesley Woods Senior Living as it has been a leader in helping people age with grace. I am heavily involved with Imagine No Malaria, a denominational initiative determined to eliminate death and suffering from malaria. These are just some of the places I am willing to give because I know I am really helping others.

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There are times when I want to be helpful but I do not know what to do. But there are other times when I know exactly what to do. And I am trying to do it!

Jamie Jenkins

Approximately 4 million babies were born in the United States last year. if we knew that in the next five years 800,000 of them would die from one disease, we would stop at nothing until we found the solution to that problem.

The situation described above is the kind of scenario faced by parents in sub-Sahara Africa. 1 of every 5 children born in that part of the world will die before they are five years old. A child dies every 60 seconds from the killer disease of malaria. That is over 1400 children every day who lose their lives to a disease that was virtually eliminated in the United States over 60 years ago- malaria. The World Health Organization estimates that 650,000 people will die this year from malaria, most of them children under the age of five and pregnant women.

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The good news: we know how to stop death and suffering from malaria and great progress has been made. Malaria is 100% preventable and 100% treatable. In 2006 a child died every 30 seconds. That death rate has been cut in half in the past 8 years through the efforts of many people and organizations.

In 2006 the United Methodist Church was invited to partner with several other groups with Nothing But Nets, a highly successful program that distributed insecticide treated bed nets to protect people from being infected with malaria. But more was needed.

INM_logo_(horizontal)So in 2008, building on the success of Nothing But Nets, the United Methodist Church established a more comprehensive approach to fighting malaria: Imagine No Malaria. It continues the important task of net distribution and builds on it, adding treatment, education, and communication to bring about a sustainable victory over malaria in this generation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation generously underwrites all administrative costs of the effort so every dollar given goes directly to this ministry.

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Since 2010 Imagine No Malaria has distributed more than 2.3 million bed nets to protect a family while they sleep at night when the mosquitoes are most active. 11,600 volunteer community health workers have been recruited and trained to deliver those nets and to teach people how to properly use them and to instruct them on other preventive measures.

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Imagine No Malaria also provides affordable and accessible medications to the more than 300 United Methodist hospitals and clinics in 16 countries of sub-Sahara Africa. 13 national health boards have been established to oversee the work and to seek additional funding sources.

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United Methodists across the country have contributed $65 million toward Imagine No Malaria’s goal of $75 million by next year. Now we have an opportunity to join them to reach the goal and save millions of lives.

 

Look what $10 can do through Imagine No Malaria::

  • deliver an insecticide treated bed net to protect a family while they sleep to protect them and to kill mosquitos
  • teach the recipient how to use it properly
  • teach the symptoms of malaria and other means to prevent the disease
  • provide early diagnostic kits as well as accessible and affordable medications

Only $10 to save a life. $100 saves 10 lives. $1000 saves 100 lives.

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To donate:

  • Text MALARIA NGC to 27722 (be sure to leave a space before NGC) and $10 will automatically be donated.
  • Send a check for any amount to the North Georgia Conference, 4511 Jones Bridge Circle, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 and designate it for Imagine No Malaria.

You can learn more about this effort to eliminate death and suffering from malaria at

http://www.imaginenomalaria.org or http://www.facebook.com/NGCimaginenomalaria or

http://www.facebook.com/imaginenomalaria

We can do more than imagine no malaria. Together we can make it a reality.

Jamie Jenkins