A village chief devoted to the health of her people

“Mummy Chief” is convinced that it is possible to avoid certain diseases easily.

Thierry Vebamba (translated from French by Darren Ou Yong)
Philomène assise au milieu des membres de sa communauté
UNICEF DRC Vebamba
21 October 2020

Philomène Gere Kanda, also known as “Mummy Chief”, is the chief of Lembo village, situated in the north-west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 1997, Mummy Chief has acted so that her people can be in good health, particularly children and mothers.

During the National Vaccination Days in April 2019, Mummy Chief encouraged all the families in her village to vaccinate their children to ensure their good health. By protecting children against serious diseases, the vaccines play an essential role in the eradication of avoidable deaths among children.

At 55 years old, Mummy Chief is convinced that it is possible to easily avoid certain diseases. A few years ago, Mummy Chief mobilised the entire community with a view to obtain the “Clean Village” status. They installed infrastructure for water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as protected water points, clean latrines, handwashing stations, and waste disposal zones. Since then, the population has access to potable water and to clean latrines, and handwashing has become a habit.

 “Mummy Chief is always ready to contribute to the development of the village,” declare the inhabitants, proud to see the devotion of Philomène. Since she become head of the village, Mummy Chief has facilitated the creation of a school with six classes, in order to allow all the children of the village to prepare their future.

However, since the start of April 2019, Mummy Chief has seen the situation worsen in her village. Hundreds of refugees from the Central African Republic arrived to seek refuge at Lembo. The population of Lembo welcomed new arrivals with open arms, but problems rapidly began to be felt. Potable water became insufficient and the health centre could not take everyone into care.

Mummy Chief is conscious that it will be necessary to adapt and to develop the existing infrastructure in the village. The construction of a bigger and better equipped health centre is necessary to continue ensuring the health of women and children. Supplementary water pumps must also be installed so that everyone can have access to potable water.