It was a bright fall morning in the small town of Boda, located in the south-west region of the Central African Republic. The sun was shining and the birds were singing, but at the same time, a feeling of dread and uncertainty was in the air.
That morning marked the start of a perilous expedition to a nearby Pygmy community, far off the beaten path of roads and cycling trails. The mission of the expedition was to deliver vaccines and antimalarial medicines to the community, in an effort to immunize the zero dose children (ZDC) living there.
The expedition was a collaborative effort involving a diverse team of health professionals, with World Vision CAR implementing the RAISE 4 Sahel project funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, dedicated communities and committed partners, all with the sole goal of vaccinating zero-dose children.
Team members were briefed on the project at the national level and held key meetings with local authorities. After careful district-level analysis of the target community, the team developed tailored operational plans and underwent extensive healthcare staff training to ensure the success of the mission. The team also engaged with local leaders to ensure the mission had their full support.
Discussions between community health workers and the project team before the departure for the Pygmy community
Finally, in the early hours of the morning, the team set off for the Pygmy community with heavy hearts, but with a sense of determination and mission to protect the ZDC in this "missed" community.
The expedition was not without its difficulties. The team had to traverse some dangerous terrain and security concerns were ever-present, but these obstacles did not deter them. The team’s commitment to the mission was unwavering and their dedication to the ZDC was inspiring.
The team during their long journey
After a long journey, the team finally arrived at the target community and, with a sigh of relief, they quickly set up the vaccination station. Within the hour, the station was filled with children from the Fulani communities, eagerly awaiting their vaccinations. The team worked diligently and carefully, and after a few hours, 45 children had received their much-needed vaccine doses.
The team during their long journey
The mission was a success, and the team returned to Boda with a sense of accomplishment. The expedition was an incredible example of the power of collaboration and determination, and the 45 children who received their vaccine doses went back to their communities knowing that they were now protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The team arriving at destination after they had to traverse some dangerous terrain
The success of this mission is a testament to the incredible work of all those involved, and a reminder of the importance of the RAISE 4 Sahel project, funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to reach ZDC and Under Immunized Children (UIC) living in the seven countries of the Sahel region: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Mali.
The team's efforts demonstrate the power of immunization services to reach and protect all children and will serve as an inspiration to future teams working to protect the most vulnerable and often overlooked communities.
The RAISE 4 Sahel Project
Reaching and Adapting Immunization Services Effectively to Reach Zero Dose Children in the Sahel (RAISE 4 Sahel) is a prominent Gavi-funded project (2022-2025). Its primary aim is to identify and vaccinate zero-dose children (ZDC) and under-immunized children (UIC) living in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The project operates in seven countries within the Sahel region, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Mali.
RAISE 4 Sahel is led by World Vision US, in collaboration with the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform (ACHAP), Food for the Hungry, Inc. (FH), CORE Group, Dimagi, and local partners. It aims to implement the project in 90 districts across the seven Sahel countries.
By Alexandre Amadou M. Gassama, Communication and Advocacy Lead