“The Voice of The Champions” – New Journal Highlights Successes

PTF Advisor and Board Member Pietronella van den Oever writes:

The Journal “La Voix des Champions de l’ OAFRESS” was officially launched on Friday, July 5, 2024. As the title suggests, through this Journal the OAFRESS Champions tell their story of assiduous work, often under trying circumstances, in francophone countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the 18 countries assembled in the OAFRESS platform belong to the poorest, conflict-ridden and fragile countries in the world. And yet, the OAFRESS countries have a story to tell that is teaching a lesson to more developed countries.

The Champions are proud of their work, and rightly so. They are at the forefront of the fight against poverty, corruption and mismanagement. And perhaps their most arduous fight is against the stereotype that tends to persist, globally, of corruption, mismanagement and wastage of resources intended for socio-economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.

Clarisse Loumou’s Role

The Journal hints to the saga of the journey of Dr. Clarisse Loumou, a pediatrician from Cameroon, who established her own medical practice in Paris a long time ago and dreamed of a better way to ascertain that children in sub-Saharan Africa are vaccinated against childhood diseases, rather than succumbing to these diseases. Yet, the Journal does not dwell on it, but rather illustrates what has become of that dream in words and pictures.

Dr. Clarisse launched her idea that it is neither the technical means, nor the human resources that are lacking. Rather, there is a strong link between poverty, isolation, and hopelessness within hard-to-reach  population groups in sub-Saharan Africa. (In most of the OAFRESS member countries, more than 50 percent of the population is still living in rural areas and is involved in agriculture for their daily living). Thus, the idea was born for the OAFRESS Champions program; a cadre of representatives of local CSOs (Civil Society Organizations), in particular representatives of those CSOs who are focusing on outreach to remote and poor areas, who would carry out an advocacy program intended to overcome the obstacles facing health & vaccination services in their outreach to hard-to-reach audiences.

A first training session for Champions was held in 2011. Two of the original Champions, Augustin Kola du Togo and Eugene Bakouan du Burkina Faso, have risen to a de facto unofficial leadership position in the more recently established group of Champions, who received their initial training in 2021. At present (July 2024) there is a group of more than 20 Advocacy Champions who are active in 18 OAFRESS countries.

Since October 2021, all the Champions have participated in a long-term mentoring program, implemented by an OAFRESS/PTF partnership, with strong support by the OAFRESS Board and by Claire Sambou as the liaison person between the two partners. From the PTF side there are 10 PTF Advisors involved as resource persons in the program. They will be presented in upcoming issues of the “Voix des Champions”.

 Out of the mentoring program the idea emerged to produce this Journal, rather than writing quarterly reports, to make sure that the work of the Advocacy Champions and the lessons learned will be widely disseminated. Et voila! You will be meeting the OAFRESS Advocacy Champions and other key actors in action in the pages of the attached “Voix des Champions de l’ OAFESS“.

Bonne lecture!