A greenhouse grows mosquito nets

Students use fitness campaign to help ERD fight malaria
May 28, 2008

When Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited St. Hilda's and St. Hugh's School on Manhattan's Upper West Side in New York City to bless their greenhouse in January 2008, she inadvertently planted the seeds for a very successful fundraising campaign on behalf of Episcopal Relief and Development's malaria prevention initiative, NetsforLife®.

In thanks for the Presiding Bishop's visit and blessing, the school decided to organize a spring fundraiser for NetsforLife®. Students were invited to solicit people to sponsor them to exercise up to 30 minutes a day (for example, $1 per minute of exercise) during a weeklong program called "Get Fit Together." In just one week the school raised nearly $30,000 -- enough for more than 2,500 nets.

"We are proud of our students and the enthusiasm with which they embraced the NetsforLife® project," said Virginia Connor, head of school. "One of the important elements of our mission is our desire to connect students to the world around them…this project allowed our students to learn about children in a very different part of the world, and to feel compassion for them as well as kinship with them."

St. Hilda's and St. Hugh's only has around 380 students, so raising such a large sum of money required the enthusiastic participation of the entire school family. "The NetsforLife®/Get Fit Together project helped us build a stronger community, which in turn made it possible for our community to help other communities in need," said Eva Warren, a sixth grade student at the school.

"St. Hilda's and St. Hugh's wonderful witness…is an inspiring example of what youth can do to help other youth," said Jefferts Schori. "The entire school community is to be commended."

"Episcopal Relief and Development is thrilled by the results of this unique fundraising initiative," said Lorenzo Martinez, ERD's vice president of external affairs. "By providing 2,500 nets for families in Africa, St. Hilda's and St. Hugh's students will save thousands of lives and prevent needless suffering. We hope this project will inspire other schools to join in the effort to fight malaria."

NetsforLife® is a partnership to prevent malaria in 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership is comprised of individual, foundation and corporate sponsors including Standard Chartered Bank, ExxonMobil Foundation, The Starr Foundation, The White Flowers Foundation and The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. NetsforLife® works in partnership with Anglican churches and other ecumenical partners in affected communities to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated nets to the most vulnerable, build awareness about malaria, and train community leaders to teach prevention and treatment methods. Further information is available here.

To prevent the transmission of malaria and support the NetsforLife® program, make a donation to ERD's "NetsforLife® program" online here, or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development "NetsforLife®" P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.