Young Champions Come of Age!

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By: Peris Wakesho, Young Champion of Maternal Health

This blog post was contributed by Peris Wakesho, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.

Almost four months since the start of the fellowship program on Maternal Health, and the African Union was holding its first ever African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVCs) pre-deployment training at Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross Rivers State, Calabar, Nigeria. You must be wondering, what is the connection with the Young Champions? Wonder no more – for the two involve young people who will and are working around the world to make a difference!

The only differences they have are that the AU-YVCs are African young people who will be posted within Africa, volunteering in various development fields, while the Young Champions of Maternal Health is global and specifically working on Maternal health (

It was an honour to participate and share the cultural and professional experience as a Young Champion, to enable the AU-YVCs to begin to anticipate and appreciate key intercultural issues as well as map their personal and professional growth before and during their deployment.

The key message delivered was: to work in any community, one needs to understand the people, their way of life, what works for them and respect them. Because human beings are inherently good!

During the training, the AU-YVCs also worked on strategies and activities they will undertake to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), of which I worked closely with teams on MDG 3, 4 and 5. These address Promotion of Gender Equality & Empowerment of Women, Reducing Child Mortality and Improving Maternal Health respectively.