On the occasion of World Prematurity Day, Clarisse Agbenenu, two-time Olympic judo champion, together with Pampers, one of her sponsors, and the SOS Prema association, of which she is the godmother, announces a fundraiser.
Does the fact that you have become a mother make you want to dedicate yourself even more to SOS Prema?
Clarissa Agbenenow. Inevitably, this topic affects me. When I started getting results, I got a lot of requests to sponsor associations. Many reasons affect me, but I wanted it to make sense. My agent contacted SOS Prema, they were looking for a godmother. The love was mutual. I was a premature baby, today I am lucky to have a little girl who is doing well. All these fears that I have while she is in good health, I can’t imagine what parents of premature babies go through on a daily basis. It is important that these mothers and fathers, who spend days and nights in anxiety, looking after their babies, can be accompanied, in particular, by people who listen to them.
You yourself sometimes talk to these parents. What is difficult for them?
Lack of answers. These parents think not only about the present moment, but also about the future. Of course, they are interested in whether their child will cope, but also if he will be able to grow up well. “Will he be sick, frail? Will he have the same life as other children? I show them that it is possible to be born two months prematurely, survive major kidney surgery, be in a coma, and become an Olympic judo champion. I’m happy that I can calm them down. Unwittingly, I think I have a great message on this subject. Parents who come to me know that I am premature, not necessarily that I was almost turned off. I went through this, maybe because kids are sometimes stronger than you think.
Do you still talk to your mother about the time of your birth?
We talked about this several times, I asked her a lot of questions, especially when in 2019 I became the godfather of the SOS Prema association. Sometimes when she looks at my daughter, she says, “She is healthier than you. “What happened to me must have been difficult for my mom, I think she is happy to see that my daughter is growing well and in great shape. Pregnant, I inevitably experienced a little fear. In my belly, seven months later, my daughter was the same size as I was at birth. i said to myself : “Everything is fine, it will not be premature. »
With Pampers, you are launching the “Pampers Solidarity Chain for SOS Prema”…
This is a major information campaign encouraging people to donate online through the association’s website. Pampers, which has supported the association since 2008, has also developed the smallest diapers in the world. I recently came across my birth photo, my diaper was twice my size! The microlayers offered by Pampers are indispensable. I was impressed when I saw them. I brought one home to remember the tiny size of a premature baby. These diapers are so small they fit in the palm of your hand, like my Olympic gold medal. It sticks. I’m happy with this partnership, which really makes sense. I want to raise awareness among the French, athletes through this chain of solidarity. The Covid period was very difficult for premature babies, who often had to be separated from their parents. SOS Prema needs funds to move forward and in addition to calling for donations, we will soon be organizing a charity gala. I’m auctioning off an introductory judo class!