Midwife in Africa

5 Feb 2018

It’s nearly midnight and I’ve finally got my head around which patients are on the ward, when this beautiful, tall but tiny young woman waddles into the labour ward explaining to me that she has twins inside her and she is ready to push. An hour later, we have a beautiful and healthy baby boy and baby girl with an exceptionally happy and unbelievably strong mother. No epidural, no instruments, not even a sound from her. Just me, the Doctor and her in the quiet room.

This story is one of my favourite moments working as a midwife in East Africa. This was something I had never done, delivering twins on my own, but nothing is ever predictable in Africa. Nothing quite gets you running into the arms of the Father, like when you’re thrown in the deep end; but that’s where the adventure begins!

I have had the incredible privilege of volunteering within a missionary hospital, a government referral hospital, a ‘private’ hospital and with an NGO in a refugee camp, all within East Africa. Not only were my eyes opened to new ways of doing things, but I was exposed to many unbelievable situations. My heart broke many times and I found myself with tears in my eyes on many occasions. These incredibly beautiful people, who had walked through more trauma than I will ever understand, making the most of what they had and finding help when it was accessible. And what an amazing opportunity and privilege I had to share my skills, and to show love to them.

The first time I walked into the hospital in South Sudan, I was taken to theatre to help learn anaesthetics. I am a nurse/midwife, and am far from qualified to administer anaesthetics. But when the situation arises where no one else can do it, you have to jump in with both hands, be flexible and teachable. Working within an environment where there are limited resources, you become quite creative and learn to trust God and pray a lot!

Volunteering in settings like this is hard, it rocks you to your core. It’s exciting, unpredictable, wonderful and a huge challenge. Throughout the past 18 months I have met and worked with some of the most beautiful and compassionate national staff, I have learned more skills than I ever thought I would, I have made incredible, lifelong friends and I have learned to think on my feet and pray through it all!

I 100% recommend it!

Melanie Hill

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