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Imagining No Malaria

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by Candace Sindelman

This Sunday, pastor Tom MacLeod will give his sermon at the Sag Harbor Methodist Church just like any other Sunday; however, this week’s sermon will be particularly unique. He will be speaking to his congregation about the project Imagine No Malaria, a multi-faith effort to eradicate the disease on the continent of Africa by 2015. The United Methodist Church in America is committed to fundraising $75 million and had partnered up with organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation.

The organization has already made a huge impact in slowing down the number of deaths caused by the disease. According to imaginenomalaria.org, which cited statistics from the World Health Health Organization from its World Malaria Report 2011, malaria claims a life every 60 seconds. Just a few years ago that number was showing every 30 seconds a child died due to the disease. Through prevention, treatment, education and communication, and working with communities to have nets, embedded with a mosquito repellant in the fabric, that hangs from the ceiling and tucked under the bedding of children has helped reduced Malaria’s impact by half.

Though MacLeod notes there is still more work to be done through removing stagnant ponds of water and eliminating drains, providing early treatment is also key in eliminating any residual effects from the disease. MacCleod’s daughter was infected after working for a non-profit organization called Action Against Hunger four years ago when in the Congo,; however, she was fortunate enough to get treatment within 48 hours and does not have the disease any longer.

“It really hit close to home, especially knowing the disease is preventable. I am so blessed my daughter was able to find a hospital and was treated,” MacLeod said.

The Sag Harbor Methodist Church has pledged to raise $20,000 for the cause. MacLeod does the math.

“There are about 8,000 year round residents (in Sag Harbor). If each person contributed 50 cents a year for four years, two dollars approximately, we would meet our goal of $20,000.”MacLeod said. “The trustees have agreed for every two dollars raised they will match it with one dollar.”

MacLeod hopes in bringing the congregation up to speed with what the United Methodist Church is trying to accomplish that it will inspire others to work for the cause in their own homes.

“We are called to a mission of compassion and action and we can make a very visible impact in the world we live in,” said MacLeod who plans on showing a video clip during the service. “I don’t want this to be in the hands of one or two people.”

Instead MacLeod wishes the local effort to expand from the church, to Sag Harbor to all the way to the whole East End.

“It’s more than just taking care of our own needs and instead we are focusing our energies outside of the building,” MacLeod said. “100 percent goes right to the initiative, there is no administrative cost, and contributions from the public are going to be multiplied from the trustees.”

MacLeod admits he is an optimist and sees the challenge in a positive light.

“I don’t see it as an impossibility,” MacLeod said. “This is something we can definitely do; we can meet or exceed our goal. People will see the smallness of what we are asking and see the bigness of what they are doing. That a little bit can have a huge effect and that together we can make this happen and not have it be a burden on anyone.”

As one of the many initiatives to come, The Sag Harbor Methodist Church will be having its second carwash this Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the church parking lot asking a suggested donation of $10.