The 49-year-old puts his talent to good use by mobilizing members of his community in Adamawa Region for public health activities.
“I’m proud of my volunteer role and the high esteem in which my people hold me,” said Mohammadou Laminou, 49, and father of three. “I’m like the local communications person or journalist! It is through me that the people get first-hand information on forthcoming health activities in our community,” the town crier told journalists through a Fulfulde interpreter.
Equipped with the “latest model” megaphone offered by partners of the State-run Tello Integrated Health Centre to replace his that had gotten old, Laminou is often seen “patrolling” the streets of Tello, passing on the latest information from local health authorities to the people. “I offer this service to my community without expectation of any remuneration. Whatever anyone offers me in appreciation, I accept,” concluded the town crier with a broad smile.
Laminou is by any count a remarkable “personality” in his native Tello, a community of 5,000 people in Vina Division, Adamawa Region. The village is located 110 km from Ngaoundere, the regional capital. Even those who have never met Laminou have on countless occasions heard his familiar voice on loudhailer. As town crier, Laminou uses a powerful megaphone to inform or invite locals to gather at the State-run Tello Integrated Health Centre for public health-related activities.
A vital service he has been joyfully carrying out for years without expecting any monetary recompense. It is thus at the discretion of any well-wisher to sometimes offer him 500 FCFA or 1,000 FCFA. At 8 am on September 6, 2019, Laminou again demonstrated his mobilisation ability by assembling over 100 men, women and children at Tello Integrated Health Centre.
Barely five minutes after the arrival of a team of United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF staff and journalists from Yaounde at the health centre, the people began trouping in. After Laminou had driven out on his motorbike, appealing to them on megaphone in Fulfulde to gather at the health centre.
The object of this latest call was for community members to listen to a talk on good nutritional practices and also watch the preparation of enriched or “five-star” pap for children. Abandoning their early morning chores to respond to Laminou’s call, the people listened keenly, watched carefully and asked questions as the lessons went on.
Supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF and funded by German State-owned development bank, KfW, the Home Food Fortification Programme seeks to checkmate malnutrition.
According to Tiesssu Marie Claire, a Nursing Aid and head of Tello Integrated Health Centre, the village currently (September 2019), has 13 cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM. Most of them from parents who have fled armed kidnappers’ attacks in neighbouring communities to seek refuge in Tello.
Thus, the need to always sensitise the community on how to guard against or manage malnutrition. Especially as Tello is part of wide swathes of countryside land Adamawa Region where most people are engaged in livestock, not crop farming. Thus, the risks of malnutrition are relatively high.