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Fondation Stamm interviews AoG

Irene Merkert and Charlotte Lübow are both members from AoG Germany. They came to visit us in Burundi in October 2023.


Thank you both for giving us some time for this interview. Can you tell us what is "AoG"?

Charlotte Lübow & Irene Merkert: AoG stands for Pharmacists Without Borders (Pharmaciens Sans Frontières in French). We are a pharmaceutical NGO that has set itself the goal of enabling people from all over the world to live a healthy life. We provide emergency aid, for example after disasters such as earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, or emergency aid in Ukraine. But we also have long-term development cooperation projects, for example in Argentina, Ghana, Haiti, Lebanon, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.

 

What does Burundi mean for AoG?

C.L. & I.M.: The project in Burundi is very special for us, as we are primarily promoting pharmaceutical training for Burundians, thereby helping to train highly qualified staff and sustainably to improve their own healthcare structures.

How and when did AoG start working with Fondation Stamm?

C.L. & I.M.: The project started in November 2018, when two of our project coordinators visited the EPCM school for the first time. It quickly became clear that we could make a meaningful contribution by working with Fondation Stamm. We started by buying new specific material for the laboratory, such as: agents and chemicals used for the practical lessons in the training program for the future pharmacists. In 2021, we started to give financial support to Pharmacie Yacu, a pharmacy set up by Fondation Stamm.

 

You were both in Burundi in October 2023. How was your stay here and what did you see?

C.L.: It was my first trip to the African continent and therefore also my first time in Burundi.

I.M.: It was my second time in Burundi and once again, I was speechless at how beautiful this country is.

C.L. & I.M.: Our stay was very interesting and full of emotions. It was nice to get to know personally our project partners from Fondation Stamm as well as the employees of EPCM and Pharmacie Yacu. We were also able to take part in a laboratory practical lesson and see for ourselves how the EPCM students are able to carry out their experiments thanks to AoG support. We are impressed by the quality of pharmaceutical training in Burundi. The pharmacists at Pharmacie Yacu also shone with their excellent pharmaceutical knowledge. The visit to Sobel (the relief camp for flood victims and the medical team set up by Fondation Stamm) was also very moving for us. AoG helped to finance the medicines used here in 2023. The life conditions under which the people have to live in Sobel are unfortunately very poor, despite all efforts. The medical team is doing everything it can to lessen some of the suffering of the persons living in Sobel. Nevertheless, many people are affected by malaria, cholera and other infectious diseases. Most of the children are severely malnourished. And so far, there seems to be no solution as to how the people can be housed permanently out of Sobel.

We also had the opportunity to visit some of other Fondation Stamm projects, such as the kindergarten and elementary school in Gatumba, the technical school ETPM in Muramvya. ETPM is a boarding school and is located next to a foster home set up by Fondation Stamm. We visited also the technical school ETO in Gitega.

Fondation Stamm staff gave us a lot of support during our trip and looked very well after us. On our day-off, we also had the opportunity to visit the Karera waterfalls in the south of the country, as well as the most southern source of the Nile, which is also located in Burundi and was discovered by a German. Burundi really is a beautiful country with very friendly people and breathtaking landscapes. We are glad that, in addition to all the exciting projects, we were able to witness a small insight into the country and the lives of its people.

 

What negative and positive impressions come to your mind, when you think about your stay in Burundi?

C.L. & I.M.: The poverty of the people and the life conditions in Sobel relief camp made us quite sad. However, this only underlined how important the work of Fondation Stamm is on the field. We were particularly impressed by the fact that Burundians were always very friendly and they seem interested in knowing more about us and what we do. All the Fondation Stamm employees gave us a warm welcome and a great insight into their important work. They always tried to find a solution to the problems we faced. Through this interview, we would like to thank everyone involved for making our stay in Burundi so interesting.

As AoG members, how do you both see the cooperation between Apotheker ohne Grenzen/Pharmacists Without Borders and Fondation Stamm?

C.L. & I.M.: Through this partnership, we have already achieved a lot in the last 5 years. The EPCM laboratory is now one of the best-equipped teaching laboratories in the country. And even university pharmacy students use the EPCM laboratory for their practical lessons. We hope that we will be able to build on this in the coming years, in order to keep on strengthening the Burundian healthcare system with such well-trained pharmaceutical staff.

 

Something to add, before closing this interview?

C.L. & I.M.: Dear Fondation Stamm employees, you are doing such great and important work. Keep it up! We would also like to thank you for the great collaboration and we hope that we can still achieve a lot together.

Last but not least: special thanks to Verena Stamm and Philipp Ziser (from BURUNDI KIDS).

 

Charlotte Lübow and Irene Merkert, as we say in our language, Kirundi: „MURAKOZE“. THANK YOU.


 

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