Meeting a passionate advocate for change in Sierra Leone
It’s the morning of my second day in Sierra Leone looking at how we can develop the popular mobilization component of our Child Survival Campaign here. I’ve had the warmest of welcomes from Dieneke, the Country Director and all the team. Eleonora, the new Health Programme Manager, has set a brilliant and intense schedule for me to find out more about our work here and our partners for the campaign.
Yesterday I heard about the vital work of our health programme here, met MSF Belgium to better understand the work of our NGO partners, and had a discussion with a truly inspiring man by the name of Charles who heads a coalition of civil society organisations here in Sierra Leone. He’s a dinner guest of world leaders, yet connected directly with poorest communities. It’s truly inspiring to meet such a passionate advocate for change. He really shows the potential of working with civil society to take forward our campaign.
It’s already clear what an important job we have here. Sierra Leone is a country smaller than Scotland, home to around 7 million people, all working to rebuild a country devastated by civil war. At each level: international donors, national, district and local, there are difficulties in making a reality of the policy of free health care for mothers and children under five. Michele, the Health Advisor here, has been taking forward some really great advocacy with high level roundtables, bumper stickers and the media. With the support of Farringdon, London staff we have become a powerful voice here in Sierra Leone. There’s a lot of opportunity to take this forward with our popular mobilization work.
Everything I have heard really brings home the importance of our Newborn and Child Survival Campaign and the change we can make though it. Today brings a meeting with another NGO partner and the First Lady of Sierra Leone.