Hélène, Mother Vaccination
Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, 5 Mai 2007.
« Before, many children were not vaccinated in Mantébé – as we are at the periphery south of Brazzaville, and the Health Center of Madibou is far, about 7 kilometers away. There were mothers who would start getting their children immunized, but then they were stopping.... There were many cases of abandon, and many mothers did not respect the immunization schedule. It was for these reasons that the Development Committee of Madibou asked UNICEF to support the training of some mothers as mobilizers, so that they could follow up the vaccination of children in our neighborhood. 4 mothers have been trained. They visit regularly each compound and check if children are getting their vaccines according to the immunization calendar. They explain to the women the importance of vaccination for the child but also for them, when they are pregnant.
My name is Hélène. I’m the oldest mother mobilizer in Madibou – everybody calls me « mother vaccination ». I visit all mothers with young children to make sure that the children have received the vaccines, and that the immunization schedule is respected. You see, this is a rural neighborhood, and women go very early to the fields, especially to cultivate the cassava, our staple food. So, I go to visit them in the afternoon, when they are back from the field. It works out very well. Every soul knows me, in the neighborhood. I check the weight of the child, to see if he or she is growing well. I do the ‘community education’, as the matron at the Health Center of Madibou says… I tell them that vaccination protects the child against dangerous diseases and helps the child to grow. I tell them all the advantages of having children vaccinated against the ‘killer diseases’, as the lady of UNICEF called them the other day. And then, I ask the mothers to come to weight the children at the community weighting sessions, each second Thursday of the month. This is an activity really important, for us community mobilizers. On that day, all mothers who have young kids come under the mango tree that is at the center of our neighborhood. The health staffs of Madibou are also there with the vaccines. I’m in charge of animation…There is an atmosphere of fair, as we sing with the women the songs about immunization, which make it easier for them to remember the immunization schedule. As I know all the mothers, I invite one or two of them to tell all the others their experiences on the advantages of vaccination in the life of their child. With the aid of a nurse, we tell them what every vaccine is for. We also utilize sketches, so that the women can better understand and be convinced. It is like this that these community sessions to weight the children go.
Our experience is often mentioned on the TV and the radio. I have also told my story to a journalist of Radio France International. And here in Congo, I have already visited other villages, to help the communities to organize the activities of immunization monitoring.”