I’m sitting in a dusty classroom in the rural town of Kisarawe. Wasps fly in and out through the open slat windows. They need to be open to allow some breeze through otherwise the room becomes stifling. Beth is leading the next session of training which is a relief for me. It’s good to sit and listen rather than feel responsible for contributing. The class for the next fortnight consists of registered nurses, nurse midwives and traditional birth attendants from 3 clinical settings: Masanganya and Masaaki which are first aid posts, and Kisarawe District Hospital which is their referral centre.
There is a wide range of knowledge and abilities in the room which makes the training challenging. We don’t want the more experienced and knowledgeable health professionals to become bored and we also don’t want to lose the ones who need more knowledge. Another challenge has been that they are not used to speaking much English so a lot of time is spent having our questions or directions interpreted.
I’m starting to see that our experience with Kairuki and Amana nurse midwives was very special and a real blessing in terms of seeing the course put into practise for the first time. They understood us quite well and so the classes went smoothly. They were also a group of women only. This time we have 3 men who are very interested and active participants but they do tend to dominate (or rather the women are quiet with them around!).
Yesterday was a tough day. It’s always difficult to break into a new group especially after you’ve already done it once, achieved a level of comfort, trust and relationship. I miss the women in the previous group! At the end of yesterday I went home with a thumping headache and felt exhausted. I fell onto my bed and drifted off to sleep very quickly. I was woken by the music getting louder for the start of the evening pub and ‘watching soccer’ session. I forced myself up and went and got Beth and Mary. I told them we all needed a walk even though we didn’t feel like it. It was a good thing to do because we came across a group of very cute children who provided some funny entertainment. Breathing in the fresh air at sunset and looking across the hills was soothing for my soul.
Just before dinner I managed to connect with Richard via Skype. We haven’t been able to talk to one another because the Skype connection has not been good for over a week. This has been frustrating but at least we’ve been able to message one another. We had a great conversation for about 20 minutes. It was so good to hear his voice and have some encouragement.
After the call I had an unpalatable dinner which included a very tough chicken ( we saw the chicken delivered in the morning!), some green vegetables with grit in them and more rice. We were all feeling a little tired and deflated. I went to bed wishing the week away!
In the morning my mood was still low. I spent some time reading my bible and praying, trying to find some comfort. I told God how I was feeling and that I was finding it hard to be positive today. I also acknowledged that I knew He goes before me and that I must trust and obey His leading. I prayed for the group of participants and for Beth, Mary and I, that we’d find inspiration to engage the group and deepen our connection with them. I felt I just needed to persevere, push through this tough time.
We arrived at the hospital and most of the participants were already there. It was great to see them again and as I moved from one to the other greeting them and remembering their names, I could feel a new connection with them. They smiled warmly and laughed at my quirky Swahili accent. I even managed to get the men to laugh as I mentioned the soccer! I had been woken in the night by the roars of cheering when Germany scored their goals. I had a sense it was going to be a good day and it was.
We had some beautiful singing and dancing led by an elderly traditional birth attendant. Her voice was strong and very musical. She made up some songs for us all to join in with words related to what we’d been learning. She was very clever! One tune had the words to warn against birthing at home in the village with the TBA, rather go to the hospital to give birth. Beth then taught them a song which had some actions and echo singing. It was great fun and they really loved it.
We learned about the importance of antenatal care, the role of the midwife in providing care to women and preventing deaths of mothers and babies, problems in pregnancy and education about danger signs and birth planning. Lots to learn. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.