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Lombard church buys mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa
By Christie Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

Ruth Ann Pfohl, Mabel Brooks and Audrey Iannelli work to hang a mosquito net like the ones NetsforLife sends to Africa to prevent malaria. Their church and others are raising money to buy nets.


Courtesy of Calvary Episcopal Church

Mabel Brooks, Audrey Iannelli and Ruth Ann Pfohl work on a display to educate members of Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard about NetsforLife. The church, like other Episcopal communities, is raising money for the cause.


Courtesy of Calvary Episcopal Church

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Published: 11/14/2008 10:28 AM

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The numbers are staggering.

Each year, as many as 500 million people will contract malaria. About a million of them will die. Most of the victims will be children - as many as 3,000 children a day.

And just about all of it is preventable.

Malaria is rampant in sub-Saharan Africa, where a huge population of mosquitoes carry the parasites that cause the disease. The mosquitoes do their damage at night, biting and infecting victims while they sleep.

The first line of defense is nets that have been treated with a long-lasting insecticide. The nets are hung around beds and sleep mats, protecting three people for five years and helping to dramatically cut the number of mosquitoes in the community.

Calvary Episcopal Church in Lombard, as part of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, helps raise money to buy mosquito nets through the NetsforLife program.

"We are a healing community. Providing malaria nets is a tangible and real way to provide assistance, save lives and contribute to the healing of the world," said Joyce Crowe, who is helping run Calvary's NetsforLife drive.

"We're joining with other religious groups, private industry and government agencies to fulfill one of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in the year 2000."

Crowe discusses NetsforLife and Calvary's efforts to help protect children from malaria.

Q. What is your mission?

A. We are currently working with NetsforLife, which aims to prevent malaria deaths in 15 sub-Saharan countries.

Q. How do you work toward accomplishing that goal?

A. We are raising money to buy nets treated with a long-lasting insecticide. NetsforLife distributes the nets in Africa for people to use when they sleep to protect themselves from bites from mosquitoes carrying malaria.

Q. Whom do you serve?

A. Calvary is located in Lombard and our members come primarily from DuPage County.

The NetsforLife program reaches people in Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. It aims to add three more countries in 2009.

Q. When and why did the organization start? How has it grown?

A. Calvary Church was started in1929 and has grown over the years to a membership of 120 families.

NetsforLife started as a joint effort between the Episcopal Church, Christian Aid and several corporate charitable foundations. The mosquito nets it distributes are the first line of defense against malaria.

It also provides education and training in malaria prevention and treatment while advocating for better diagnostic testing and drug therapies.

Q. What challenges does NetsforLife face?

A. Malaria strikes between 300 and 500 million people a year, with 90 percent of the cases in sub-Saharan Africa. About 1 million people die from the disease annually, about 75 percent of victims are children. Young children, who have not developed immunities to the parasites that cause malaria, and pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems are most susceptible.

Q. What do you wish the community at large knew about the organization?

A. Malaria is a preventable disease. The nets treated with insecticide kill and repel mosquitoes. In communities where 75 percent of the population sleeps under treated nets, the mosquito population falls by about 90 percent. A treated net costs $12, and each net can save the lives of three children.

Q. How can readers get involved?

A. We frequently hear "I'm only one person, what could I do?" You can purchase a treated malaria net for $12. You may never see or feel the net, but you will know what one person can do. And please tell others about this program to continue to help eradicate malaria.

Nets for Life

When: Fundraising drive continues through Sunday, Nov. 16

Cost: Nets are $12 each

To donate: Calvary Episcopal Church, 105 W. Maple Ave., Lombard, 60148

Info: (630) 620-8899, or