Connecting local responses around the world
Blaise Sedoh died on 22 February 2023.
I met Blaise for the first time on Sunday 26 October 2008 in Lomé, the capital of Togo at the offices of the Red Cross of Togo. We spent that afternoon talking about how the Red Cross in Togo were using Self-Assessment to address AIDS and malaria. Our plan was to spend a week travelling the length of Togo from south to north with Blaise to see what was happening.
Here is what I wrote in my notes after that meeting:
“At first, …it seemed that what was happening in Togo seemed too good to be true. But after spending the afternoon and the evening with Blaise, it is clear that this is the genuine article. I would say that Blaise’s understanding of what makes the Learning Processes work is better than mine. He has the gift of using a neat precise phrase, rather than the clumsy bureaucratic language of the Constellation. He has set up a national structure within the Red Cross that is designed to cover the country and to make an impact on a national scale. And this is based for the most part around Red Cross volunteers. It could be, and it should be, an excellent week. We will start to see tomorrow.”
(This text was taken from my private notes that were never meant to become public. I have edited them slightly to make them clearer, but I have tried not to alter their meaning.)
What followed was a remarkable week. We travelled from the hot, wet south, to the highlands and then up into the arid regions of the north. We spent the days meeting and talking to communities who were using Self-Assessment and members of the Red Cross who were supporting them.
Blaise was always at the quiet centre of all of this work. He never pushed himself forward. He allowed his Red Cross colleagues to speak of their work and he showed great skill and patience in helping members of the community to speak of their achievements.
It took a little time but during the long drives Blaise talked about the power of Self-Assessment. Those conversations carried on long into the evening and they began again early the next morning. I came to understand that Blaise and his organisation had understood how communities could use this tool to change their lives. During the week a beautiful broad vision of the power of Local Response was laid out for us by Blaise. It was a magical week and I have come to treasure that experience.
I met Blaise several times after that week. He was always Blaise and it was a pleasure to meet and work with him, but it never felt quite the same. In part, I think that it was the intensity of our week together and in part it was the fact that Blaise was in a world where he was totally at ease. What I do know is that none of us has the right to experience such magic: we must be deeply grateful when it comes our way. And it is for that week that I will always remember Blaise and be grateful for his insight, integrity, warmth and generosity.
You can see Blaise talking about Self-Assessment on that day in February 2023 in French here: https://youtu.be/d3_RPHCo4_A