Tanzania here I come…

I have not written my blog for months. Time has flown by and so much has happened. I’m currently on a flight to Dares Salaam with a midwifery colleague to spend 4 weeks teaching midwives. The length of time away from my family goes against every grain of my body and saying goodbye to my husband and 2 sons was very difficult. In fact, just prior to getting in the car to travel to the airport, I suddenly did not want to go at all. I felt dreadful anxiety about leaving the kids. But, my husband and I had discussed this many times before coming to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do on this occasion. Again, he reminded me that it was ok, the boys will be with him. They are going to South Africa to spend 2 weeks of the school holidays with Richards dad which I know will be very special for them. After lots of hugs and a few brave tears all round, I was off.

I’m travelling with Mary Richards, a very experienced midwife who has spent the last 6 years working all over the world teaching midwives and health workers. I came to know of Mary through a friend of mine who linked me to her Facebook page: Global Maternal and newborn network, a forum for people working in developing nations to share resources and support one another. I have learned so much from Mary and her site and it is such a privilege now to be spending time with her in person. Already we’ve had conversations about dealing with people in authority who are obstructing good maternal health program’s from growing or being supported, burnout as a midwife, we’ve even shared our birth stories – that’s what midwives do.

I’m travelling to Tanzania, dares salaam representing global health alliance, Western Australia or Ghawa. I’ve been working for them over the past 6 months writing an education course for midwives in developing nations. The course is a very simple program to provide professional development for midwives or upskilling so that they achieve competency in basic midwifery skills according to the International Confederation of Midwives. There are 6 modules in the course and I’m delivering it for the first time to see how it is received. There may be quite a few things that need changing, who knows. We’ll see what happens.

I should be in dar at 1.30 pm and we’ll be picked up by the driver Semmy, who will take us to the Holiday Inn where we’ll stay for the first week. This while the new Ghawa accommodation is sorted out. To be honest I’m rather pleased that we’ll be in the hotel for a few days; it gives me a chance to acclimatise at my own pace!! Tomorrow the plan is to be taken on a tour of the first hospital where we’ll be training , Amana hospital. It is one of the larger public hospitals in dar. We’ll meet significant health leaders and managers and finalise plans for the course to begin on Tuesday.

To finish today’s blog I want to share the amazing story of how came to be involved with GHAWA and am now on a plane to Tanzania . In May last year, with the sudden downturn in the mining boom in Western Australia , my husband was retrenched from his job. This was a very difficult time for our family. He managed to get 6 months contract work flying in and out of Queensland which was handy, but we knew I had to find paid work. Up until the I had devoted myself to volunteering in the charity, Living Child, which I had founded in March 2013.

I really did not want to work in the local Perth hospitals as I truly felt called to issues in global maternal health after my experiences in PNG. I was rapidly developing a passion for training midwives in resource poor countries and setting.

Soon after my first trip to PNG I wanted to write a very simple curriculum for midwives and village birth attendants vbas. I had written a basic teaching plan which we used on a trip to the village of Bunam in July 2013, which was very successful. But I never had the time or chance to sit down and tease it out, step by step, so that any midwife could pick it up and teach it.

I decided to pray. I felt that if God had introduced me to global midwifery, then He could find me a paid job in the field too. I told God I was going to wait and see what job opportunities there were before jumping into just anything, and I was going to trust him that he had the right job for me.

A few weeks went by and then one day I saw an email from a midwifery colleague which was highlighting an expression of interest in a 3 month contract for a midwifery educator to write a midwifery education curriculum for midwives in developing nations! I couldn’t believe my eyes. This job had my name written all over it!

It took me a long time to actually sum up the courage to put in an application. All sorts of fears and feelings of inadequacy plagued me. With the support of my husband and dear friends, I finally got the application in. And got the job…

My first few weeks in the nursing and midwifery office were spent pinching myself that I had the job! I have a lovely desk, with 2 computer screens and access to all the resources I need to research and gather information to write the curriculum. I have now completed the first foundation unit and have started the intermediate and advanced skills units. The trip to Tanzania will certainly give me a whole new perspective and inspire some new thoughts and ideas for the course.



2 thoughts on “Tanzania here I come…

  1. Naz says:

    Well done Sara & thank you for sharing how this all came about. I don’t think I’ve heard the whole story before! Am praying for you as you travel & teach for these next few weeks!
    God bless☺️

  2. belinda jennings says:

    Sara, hi ya, belinda here,, good luck, , keen to look at training program, same need here in timor leste if you need another pilot place. We will be planning something similar! Travel safe, dound, n sane! Most importantly, keep smiling. Xx

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