>Change The World Weekend


This is our official report from our SleepOut For Malaria.  If you don’t know the SleepOut was something that hundreds of groups were doing the overnight on April 24th to the morning of the 25th, World Malaria Day.  While originally, we were going to have a “Sleep-In” at the church, because of the amount of snow on the ground and the constant threat of rain.  However, we had some folks who really thought that camping out in a visible location was the way to go.  If we were trying to raise awareness of malaria in the world then being in a setting that would make more people aware seemed to be the best option.  So, plans were made to camp out in the clinic parking lot and malaria facts and signs were posted around the clinic.

On Saturday, the day of our SleepOut, we got permission from Chair 5 Restaurant to use their bathroom until they closed at 2 AM Sunday morning.  This came with the warning that, since it was Spring Carnival Weekend in Girdwood, the owner expected it to be the busiest night of the entire year for his business.  There would be a lot of people…a lot of loud people…a lot of intoxicated people.  
With this warning, I went to the clinic late in the afternoon and set up pylons and barricades to have a safe place.  I had said that the two things I was concerned about was the safety of the site and the cold–making sure folks were dressed appropriately.

At 7 PM we gathered at the church to watch, “When the Night Comes”–a video produced by The United Nations and to have a presentation by one of our folks who works for the Center for Disease Control.  Then, around 8:15 PM or so, it was time to go out to the clinic.  Tents were set up.  A fire was set in the portable fireplace.  And the passersby kept coming.

It was an interesting experience.  Clearly there was a lot of partying going on all around us.   A loud party was at the house next door.  Chair 5 was rockin’ until about 3 AM.  But that fire of ours kept drawing people over in the 25 degree temperatures.  Some good conversations were had and some very interesting ones were had as well.  We found a person who had participated in the Nothing But Nets campaign at a school and knew the benefit of the treated nets in malaria-ridden regions.  There were those who walked on by but stopped to read the signs that had been posted.  And, clearly, some persons had already had busy nights by the time we saw them.

There were 10 of us camping out Saturday night–10 hardy souls who overlooked their own comfort for the sake of educating persons about malaria in the world.  By 2:30 AM, there were only two of us, Samuel and I, still up and we put out the fire with snow to dissuade persons from coming into our area so we could finally hit the sack.  Morning was going to come at 7 AM.

Well, of course, when we got up it was raining…not hard…but enough to get everything wet.  We broke camp and got ready for church.

At church we focused on malaria and changing the world.  And we raised $520 for “Nothing But Nets.”  Praise God.