UMCOR Issues $200,000 Challenge Grant for Sierra Leone Mosquito Nets
Bethesda, MD, May 7, 2009—United Methodists are taking on a new challenge to provide every child under five years-old in Sierra Leone with a long-lasting insecticide treated bed net. These nets will provide protection from malaria for those most vulnerable to the deadly disease.
To kick off the effort to raise sufficient funds for the proposed November 2009 net distribution, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is issuing a $200,000 challenge grant from its newly-established Anne Ryckman Fund.
UMCOR President, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Houston announced the grant and the challenge to the denomination's Council of Bishops, meeting in Bethesda, Maryland on May 6. The challenge is to United Methodist annual (regional) conferences and districts to match the funds. Many bishops responded to the challenge with personal donations totaling more than $1,000.
Conferences to Answer the Challenge
Several annual conferences are likely to step up to the plate with gifts to match the $200,000 challenge by the June 30 deadline. This will be a significant step towards meeting the need for 1.2 million nets in Sierra Leone.
"Our hope is to make a miracle of multiplication happen," Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive, said of the challenge grant. "We have an opportunity to directly save the lives of thousands in Sierra Leone, if we can act now."
The needed quantity of nets needed for this campaign are available for purchase this summer and will not be available in this amount again until 2011. Malaria will take the lives of some 80,000 more people in that time. By answering this call to action United Methodists have the opportunity to save lives that would otherwise be lost to malaria.
Integrated Campaign to Save Lives
The net distribution will be part of a national measles vaccination campaign in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, and The United Methodist Church. UMCOR will play a key role in coordinating the net distribution and training malaria educators who will be at United Methodist distribution sites.
In total, approximately $2 million will be needed to purchase, train and distribute these nets. United Methodists have already contributed significantly to this effort through their gifts to Nothing But Nets, including a generous donation from the German Central Conference's 2008 Christmas offering that brought 100,000 Euros for use in Sierra Leone.
At least $500,000 more will need to be given by June 30, 2009, to purchase a sufficient quantity of nets in time for the November distribution.
"We are challenging United Methodists everywhere to help us bring an end to malaria's misery in Sierra Leone," said Dixon. Every Nothing But Nets gift given through UMCOR Advance #982015 up until June 30 will be counted towards the Ryckman Challenge Grant and will go to support the Sierra Leone net distribution.
The Ryckman Fund
"Ms. Ryckman had a passion to help others and left a legacy through her $1.7 million endowment gift to UMCOR," said Dixon.
This is the first use of the funds she bequeathed to UMCOR. Her home church, St Paul's United Methodist in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been in close contact with UMCOR regarding the use of these funds and will continue to be involved in the use of the balance.
"As a congregation, we are honored to be able to direct these dollars toward such an important cause and relief efforts in Sierra Leone," wrote Pat Clifford, St. Paul's UMC mission chairperson in a recent email to Dixon.
How You Can Help
Take up the challenge to cover Sierra Leone with bed nets and save thousands of lives. Give today to Nothing But Nets, UMCOR Advance #982015. Every gift to this Advance between now and June 30, 2009, will go to save lives in Sierra Leone.