By Earl Storey
The Mayor of Londonderry, Cllr Martin Reilly, recently welcomed the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Revd Ken Good, and two visitors from Nigeria to the city’s Guildhall.
Canon John Okoli and Nanlop Ogbureke were visiting the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe to promote the Nets Work project, a year-long Derry and Raphoe programme to raise enough funds to buy 20,000 mosquito nets, saving up to 40,000 lives.
Nets Work is a joint diocesan initiative with Bishops’ Appeal (marking the organisation’s 40th anniversary) and Christian Aid. Christian Aid’s partner, the Anglican Diocesan Development Services, will distribute the mosquito nets.
Mosquito nets are a surprisingly effective weapon in the fight against malaria. The mosquito (the female is the one that passes malaria and is silent, unlike the male) normally bites between 10.00pm and 5.00am. When people sleep under mosquito nets, it protects them during the most vulnerable time of the day.
In one area of Africa, where a project to distribute mosquito nets took place, it was estimated that the death rate from malaria fell by 67%.
A net costs around £5/€6, but for a family which spends more than 90% of its income on food, this is an expense they just cannot afford. Sadly, in many rural communities, having a fever is a way of life, so Nets Work also educates communities on how that fever is caused and how it can be prevented.
Bishop Good commented: "I am very excited that Derry and Raphoe has identified a life-saving project in Nigeria, providing thousands of mosquito nets for people who can’t afford them."
A short promotional Nets Work video was shown at the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Synod and can be viewed on the diocesan website: www. derryandraphoe.org
Canon Okoli, Programme Manager of the Anglican Diocese of Nnewi Health and Community Development Centre, lives and works in the Anambra State in Nigeria and, since 2008, has been working on projects which focus on children and their vulnerability to both malaria and HIV.
During his visit, he spoke at the Diocesan Synod.
Mrs Ogbureke, who works for Christian Aid Nigeria, has been monitoring the effectiveness of the Nets Work programme since its inception and spoke to a range of groups from the diocese during her visit.