At this time of year it is customary for us to give thanks. Having just returned from Côte d’Ivoire a week ago, where one million bed nets were distributed to children under the age of five, I have a lot to give thanks for this year. I would like to give thanks for the tens of thousands of people who have supported the Nothing But Nets campaign and our effort to prevent malaria in Africa; thanks for the more than 2 million bed nets that have been distributed in just two years; and thanks for our partners who have brought this effort to CEOs and youth groups, sports fans and faith congregations.
Earlier this week I received a note from a colleague at the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. Cynthia and I had the privilege of seeing the bed net distribution firsthand…
“Yesterday, as I walked into my local grocery store to get the last of the items I needed to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, I realized more than ever that I live in the tension of scarcity and abundance. I live in a lovely home, am able to make several trips a day to the grocery store to fill my pantry in order to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving feast, and yet there are worries about the value of my pension and the rising cost of tuition and what might happen to the auto makers and the jobs at risk for those whose livelihoods are dependent on GM and Ford.
I realized yesterday that at least I ‘get’ to worry about pensions and tuition and the last perfect ingredient for a Thanksgiving feast. Many people in our world will never worry about these things. They will never invest in a stock market or even own an automobile. Their life expectancy is so short and life so brief that retirement is not even a word in their vocabulary. Their children will not likely ever go to college. If they live in Sub-Saharan Africa where a child dies every 30 seconds of malaria, their child will not likely ever get to go to kindergarten, much less college.”
I hope we all are able to give thanks in our own ways today, including for our work together to prevent children dying from malaria.
More importantly, I would like to give thanks for the mothers and fathers who brought their children to receive the bed nets and will use them each night, helping to save their children’s lives.
Before you gather with those dear to you to celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your partnership with Nothing But Nets.
Because you cared enough to act, a family will sleep peacefully under a bed net tonight—safe from the deadly mosquitoes that carry malaria.
Although you may never meet her, tomorrow morning a grateful mother, like Pamela Timotheo Koka of Tanzania pictured here, will chase her giggling son out from under a life-saving bed net and off to breakfast.
That’s why this Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for you and for a $10 bed net. Together, we can do a lot of good.
I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!