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Mar 31, 2011 | Carol E. Barnwell

Boy Scout Leads Church in Malaria Nets Project

It took one Boy Scout and 46 mosquito nets. St. John’s, Sealy (population 5,278), is the first congregation in the Diocese of Texas to meet the goal of one net per family in the Lenten initiative to fight malaria in 17 African nations. The diocese has more than 27,000 families.


NetsforLife® is a program of Episcopal Relief and Development providing insecticide treated mosquito nets for $12 each, which includes education about malaria.


Andrew Jelson, 12, chose the project to earn his Boy Scout God and Church award. In his presentation on March 20, Jelson told the congregation that his efforts were personal. His mother had been born in Zambia and his grandfather had contracted malaria while living in Africa in the 1960s. He followed up with an email and collected money on two Sundays.


"This was a great project because it is always fun to help people in Africa. My Granddad had malaria, and I have seen him when he gets sick,” Jelson explained. “My Granddad encouraged me to participate, but I never thought we would surpass the goal in just two weeks.  It was fun to count all the money," he said. 


Jelson, an acolyte at St. John’s and honor student at Cinco Ranch Jr. High, surpassed his initial goal of 36 nets by nearly 30 percent.  St. John’s has 41 families and he was able to raise $552, enough money to fund 46 nets, each one of which will save three lives.


“I am so proud of his efforts and especially the support from our congregation,” said his mom, Lianne.


“This is just great news,” said Bishop Andy Doyle, who helped to kick off the diocesan-wide campaign at this year’s Diocesan Council. “To see the power of one young person’s vision is very inspiring. I hope others will meet the challenge that Andrew has set before us.”  


Malaria kills more than one million people annually, more than HIV/AIDS. There is much misinformation in African villages about the cause of malaria, which makes the education provided with NetsforLife® so important. The Episcopal Relief and Development website has fundraising ideas and curricula for all ages, videos and printed information for congregations, schools and individuals.  Go to for more information.