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People watch, wait for malaria relief


7:00 A.M. EST December 22, 2010

Curious schoolchildren crowd one another for a glimpse of a delegation from Saving Lives in Sierra Leone, part of the Imagine No Malaria campaign. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Curious schoolchildren crowd one another for a glimpse of a delegation from Saving Lives in Sierra Leone, part of the Imagine No Malaria campaign.
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
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As a small child, I remember waiting for Christmas to arrive. The anticipation was both the best and worst part of the holiday.

Every time my mother went shopping, I would wonder what was in the bag. Was it my gift? Was it something for my brothers? Even on Christmas Day, gathered around the tree, we would have to wait until my dad gave us permission to begin unwrapping gifts. It was downright painful at times.

As an adult, I still find myself watching and waiting, only this time with much more patience. Christmas gift giving involves both watching for sales and waiting for the big day to see if the people we love enjoy the gifts we bought for them.

Once I had a child of my own, I understood, to a degree, what Mary must have experienced when she knew she was with child: Watching people respond to the news of a baby’s impending birth. Waiting for the child to be delivered. Watching the newborn sleep. Waiting to introduce the child to friends and family.

Recently, I spent time in Sierra Leone participating in a distribution of mosquito bed nets to combat malaria. The people of Sierra Leone are among the most gracious and most grateful I have ever met. Everyone expressed gratitude for our arrival, our caring, our time, our willingness to give. I cannot remember a single day that I did not hear words of gratitude expressed by at least one person. Most days I heard the words from several people. I was uncomfortable knowing that, personally, I had done little to deserve such gratitude.

One particular day, a young mother in a village in the Bo district watched as men from the Imagine No Malaria project hung the net above her bed. Her eyes danced with excitement. She said to me, “I've been waiting for this day.” Watching and waiting.

In one of the poorest countries on earth, a mother watches her child die of a preventable disease, malaria. Another mother waits for the bed net that could literally save her baby’s life. Watching and waiting.

Through Imagine No Malaria, United Methodists can decrease the watching and waiting for people around the world. Your contributions provide health education and insecticide-treated bed nets, helping protect those most at risk of contracting malaria.

Please prayerfully consider a contribution to the Imagine No Malaria campaign. Give at ImagineNoMalaria.org or by calling 866-521-1179.

No mother should have to wait and watch as her baby dies.

*Panovec is executive director of new media for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Kay Panovec, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5147 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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