Editor’s note: In lieu of World Malaria Day (Monday, April 25th), the following post was written for us by our friends at RELEVANT Magazine.
Recently, the RELEVANT staff became aware of a problem.
If you watch the news (who does that anymore?), or follow the news feed on Facebook or check in online with the media outlet of your choice, you know the world is in trouble. Our world’s issues have created issues that have created more issues that could lead one to believe the world, in its current state, is not right. How does one respond when the world seems to be on fire?
Apathy is our worldview
Some have chosen to bury their heads in the sand and pretend this “world on fire” doesn’t affect their everyday life. They’ve embraced apathy as a worldview—it informs the way they spend their time, money and conversation. Others have chosen to respond by passionately standing up for a cause they feel called to. But how do you go about choosing what evil to war against when there is so much evil in the world?
The problem that caught our attention was the very problem we thought had gone away. Several decades ago our U.S. government decided to wage a war against the threat of malaria. Along with relocating people away from river beds and dangerous bodies of water that hosted deadly mosquitoes, we launched an all-out chemical assault on malaria with DDT. We attacked the disease at its origin. Since the threat has now been all but eliminated in the U.S., most of us have seen malaria as that virus you might get on a mission trip that, at its worst, is similar to a common cold and a few trips to the bathroom.
Truth be told, malaria isn’t on our radar anymore because it’s no longer a deadly threat to our culture. We’ve moved on to “bigger” problems—economic development, child mortality, education, health care, ending poverty, fighting global AIDS, etc. But the fact is, if you care about any of these issues, you have to solve the problem of malaria first
The numbers don’t lie
Nearly 1 million people die every year due to diseases that were caused by malaria—85 percent of them are children under the age of 5. If you care about solving other issues in the world, you have to pay attention to the fact that 30 percent of all school absenteeism on the entire continent of Africa is the result of malaria. It slows the economic and educational development of countries around the world by perpetuating the cycle of poverty and becomes exponentially more deadly when accompanied by AIDS and malnutrition.
How have we lived on this planet without knowing? Ignorance is killing more people right now than all the great wars described in our history books.
What’s even worse is that it’s completely preventable. For just $6, a simple insecticide-treated bed net can save two lives and help kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes ($18 provides bed nets for an entire family). When 80 percent of a community is covered by these nets, malaria deaths are dramatically reduced. If maintained, malaria could be eliminated in villages where death is living at the doorstep of every family around the world.
“We had to do something”
When our team became aware of this injustice and what could be done to end it, we knew we had to do something. We joined up with ACT:S, a World Vision activism network to create ACT:S to End Malaria. We began to tell the story of how possible it is to put an end to the senseless malaria deaths that have continued because we’ve done nothing.
Our goal has been to ignite people who are willing to stand against this atrocity through creative activism in their communities, by providing life-saving bed nets to villages in need, and by pressuring our government to keep the promises they’ve made to fund the global miracle that is at our fingertips. More than 600 groups from around the world have joined us by organizing their own ACT:S to End Malaria campaigns within their churches or campuses.
These are not the acts of a company who is jumping on the latest “social justice” bandwagon. These are the acts of individuals who deeply care about the world being restored to its original design. These are people like you and me who are desperately trying to connect their personal faith with a public justice to make a difference in our world.
We can be the generation that finally eliminates this threat to children around the world in our lifetime. This World Malaria Day, join RELEVANT and World Vision ACT:S to end malaria by 2015.