Waiting during a long layover at Washington Dulles, we checked e-mail using the airport’s
free wi-fi service. It was bad news from Senegal, and we hadn’t even gotten there yet. The nine-year-old daughter of Honoré Badiane, EELS employee in Yeumbeul, where we lived for a year, had died from a severe case of malaria. We didn’t know Anne-Marie very well, but Honoré is a dear friend and our hearts broke for him. In the day and a half we spent in Dakar before returning home to Linguere, we were able to attend Anne-Marie’s funeral and grieve with Honoré and his family.

It was the first funeral Sarah and I had attended in Senegal. I didn’t know what to expect. Nearly everyone was dressed in white, for resurrection. I found this uplifting and hopeful. We filed past the body as we entered the church. As the service started the coffin was nailed shut before it was brought to the front. The sound echoed through the church. It was so final. And all I could think was, “This shouldn’t have happened.”

Malaria is preventable and treatable, but it’s also fast-acting and sometimes deadly. That little girls like Anne-Marie still die from it is tragic. Africa is so large, and the problem often seems too big to tackle. Malaria should and can be eradicated. We are truly hopeful about large initiatives like the work the Gates Foundation is doing and the ELCA’s Malaria Campaign. We encourage you to make sure your congregation is participating in the ELCA’s malaria campaign. Get your Sunday School kids involved, take a noisy offering, save some lives. It’s worth it. “Enough is enough!”

*The above article was written by Pr. Dirk Stadtlander (rostered in the Southeastern Iowa Synod) is an ELCA missionary working with the Lutheran Church of Senegal, and serves as pastor in the Linguere parish where he lives with his wife, Sarah, and their two children.

Mosquito nets over beds help prevent children from contracting Malaria.

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