As the weather turns cold and rainy, most people are happy to have a roof over their heads. But starting Sunday, the Rev. Allen Henderson will spend the week on a roof.
Henderson plans to pitch a tent on St. Paul Lutheran School to "raise" money and awareness for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.
This wasn't his idea.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
The Rev. Allen Henderson contemplates the roof where he will spend a whole week in a tent to raise money to end malaria in Africa.
"It came out of the committee," Henderson said. "I did not object."
His only qualifiers were that he would have access to electricity - to keep his phone and iPad charged - and bathroom breaks.
"I'll have a tent, a sleeping bag, some sand bags in the bottom of the tent to keep it from blowing away. I'll have a box and a rope if people want to deliver gifts or snacks," Henderson said.
The goal of the LMI is to completely stop malaria deaths in Africa by 2015, he said.
"Malaria is preventable and treatable, compared to HIV and some others," Henderson said. "We can do this. This isn't pie in the sky. They've made some great progress already. LMI has reached 2.4 million people.
"The problem is, there are 200 million cases a year, and one million die. So 2.4 million sounds like a lot, but it's 1 percent."
The disease is especially hard on kids. One child under age 5 dies every 45 seconds from malaria.
Those who donate will know exactly what their money can buy, he said.
"If somebody has malaria, we can give them a shot, and that costs $1. A mosquito net with insecticide to cover their bed is $10. It's $50 for a radio ad instructing the people, because they're poor and they don't know what they can do. Three hundred dollars can educate a health worker to battle malaria."
St. Paul Lutheran's fundraising goal is $10,000, Henderson said. It works out to $1 for every minute he's on the roof.
LMI's goal is to raise $45 million, which Henderson said would be enough to eliminate the disease by 2015.
Last Wednesday, St. Paul youths went through Fort Dodge neighborhoods collecting gifts for the project. On Nov. 3, Henderson's last day on the roof, the youths will be collecting gifts in the community.
Someone will also don a mosquito costume for photo ops as people bring in gifts to the church.
Today and Sunday, the church will host a missionary from Nigeria home on furlough, who will speak at both services.
"His whole family has suffered from malaria. Talk about first-hand experience," Henderson said.
Henderson doesn't expect to get bored on the roof because he'll be busy making phone calls to drum up support.
"Being out of the office for a whole week could be either restful," he said, "or very productive."