My advocacy and change community

I have been so lucky throughout my career and today I wanted to share a recent experience with you, just because I’m happy and I want to celebrate with you the community of wonderful professionals I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years. Some time ago, I proposed writing a book about children’s rights in healthcare in Portugal to someone very dear to me, with whom I have worked and always learnt a lot. As always, the Professor (the one and only) welcomed the new challenge I was proposing and, before long, the idea was maturing and a book that would initially have been written between the two of us ended up receiving contributions from a total of 14 professionals. We wanted to bring together the main institutions working for children’s rights and child health in Portugal, as well as professionals from various disciplines, backgrounds and experiences, and so we did. I am very proud of the end result, looking forward to the next steps, but above all I’m so happy for the path we’ve travelled together over these months. Writing a book when you’re already a university professor, a lawyer or a sociologist, when you’re the mother of one, two or three children, or when you have more than one professional hat, isn’t for everyone. But each and every one of them has embraced this adventure with all the good humour and will that is characteristic of them.

In Portuguese we say “they who run for pleasure, does not tire” and I am fortunate to have several such communities, made up of genuine and passionate people, professionals committed to improving the situation of children, whether in health, school or play. People who cannot say no to yet another challenge because they want so much to contribute to a better world. People who give themselves body and soul – their whole lives – to the cause.

I, too, am one of those crazy people, and I am lucky enough to have always been in good company. I never met Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela or Malala, but I am surrounded by so many other humanists who have contributed to advancing national health systems in their own country and across the globe, people who develop new and innovative strategies, programmes and policies, professors who create new university curricula or paediatricians who retire only to go on and volunteer in refugee camps. It is in our blood to work for change, because we believe in it. Each of us, in our own way, believes that it is possible to create a better world and, until that day comes, we won’t stop fighting.

Thank you to so, so, many of you.