RESULTS has long supported global volunteer-led advocacy, working with partner organisations across the world to support community volunteers use their voices to fight poverty, just as grassroots campaigners do here in the UK. From TB advocacy in Eastern Europe to youth leadership on nutrition, we’re part of a global movement of people who understand how citizen-led advocacy can and does change the world.
In 2019, a new programme joined RESULTS’ portfolio, and in this blog post, Campaigns Coordinator Dela Anderson (left) interviews Eliza-Helen Ampomah (right), Campaigns Officer for our Youth Leaders for Health programme, to find out how it works.
Eliza, you are heading off to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week to run a 5-day training event. What’s it all about?
The Addis training event is a key moment for the Youth Leaders for Health project. My manager, Push, and I – we started with RESULTS in October – our main objective has been to get at least 25 young people on to the Youth Leaders for Health project from three countries: Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Ghana. We wanted young people between the ages of 18 and 35 who are not only passionate and committed to changing their communities but also policies in their countries. This training event will give us the opportunity to give them the introduction to what we would love them to be doing for the rest of the project, which is a year long. We want them to be a key part of advocacy around malaria and health systems strengthening in their countries, and really pushing for this agenda over the next 12 months. So this event is the beginning of the whole project really.
What’s on the agenda for the 5 days? What’s actually happening?
The 5 days is jam-packed! We are running intensive training where we will be introducing the young people to concepts around advocacy – how you get hold of decision-makers, lobby them, talk to them, convince them, recognising the different ways change can happen. Because as we know, it’s not linear, it’s not always easy, it’s not clean-cut; understanding how strategy and forward-thinking and planning goes into an advocacy campaign. They should get a chance to meet MPs who will be there for the African Union Summit which will be happening towards the end of the week, 30-31 January, and hopefully visit the African Union (AU) itself, which is based in Addis Ababa. We have great training content from experts in pan-African advocacy, thought-leaders – it will be a really exciting 5 days for them, when they will soak up as much information and knowledge as possible to kick-start their own campaigns in their countries.
You are working with partner organisations for this project. What are you hoping the Youth Leaders will ultimately achieve?
We are working with partner organisations from the three countries – Hope For Future Generations in Ghana, CISMAT-SL in Sierra Leone, a long-term partner of RESULTS on TB, and Health Promotion Tanzania, which is an ACTION partner, along with another ACTION partner, WACI Health, a pan-Africa advocacy organisation. They will be supporting the young people in their countries to develop advocacy campaigns, which will focus on malaria, and use it as an entry-pointy to talking about health system strengthening in the wider discourse. So, understanding how being able to treat, diagnose and eliminate malaria feeds into wider Universal Health Coverage discussions and health system strengthening discussions. We’re hoping they will capitalise on moments in their countries. In Ghana and Tanzania there are elections at the end of the year; we have the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda in June; and we also have World Malaria Day in April. These are key moments which we’re hoping they will use to raise awareness and to advocate for policy change around malaria and health system strengthening over the course of this year.
Is there anything that particularly excites you about the programme?
There are so many exciting things about it! It only dawned on me once I met with the partners and met some of the young people that we’re all the same. I’m a young person. I’m of African descent. I identify with them so much! And I’m also an advocate. So it feels like, even though I’m supporting the project, I’m also part of the project and I feel like I’m learning a lot from them, from the partners and all the work they are doing in their different countries, and how advocacy looks in different countries. So even though I’m working on it, I definitely feel like a Youth Advocate myself and so in many ways I feel like the 27th person which is amazing! Hopefully I can convey to them that excitement and I can bring them on board. I really hope that they are as excited about it as I am!
I’m excited about all the different experiences that they will be able to get, because being a campaigner, being an advocate sometimes can feel very piecemeal. But then when you get a win, it’s so amazing, and I really hope they feel fulfilled by the work that they are doing and the amount of dedication they are bringing to the project, which we are really grateful for. And finally, I’m really excited for the partners to continue feeling that our working relationship is part of a journey that they are on, and that after the course of however long this project lasts, they can look back on this year with pride, and feeling like they’ve contributed something to not only ending malaria, but also helping the healthcare system in their countries. I hope they’ll feel good about the work that we do together, and I’m looking forward to coming back and telling you how the African Union went!