We left early on the long drive to Kamakwie. The traffic in Freetown is terrible and to avoid the morning jams we took the extremely bumpy but very beautiful mountain road. Quite how Charlie and Bridgetta managed to sleep as we drove along that road I have no idea!
We stopped in Makeni to attend the opening of the new midwifery school. It is a very important development for Sierra Leone as currently there is only one midwifery training school for the whole country (which is in Freetown). This means that it is very difficult to recruit and retain staff in the rest of the country. The midwifery school offers more nurses a chance to train as midwives and also those who are from the Northern area an opportunity to train closer to home. There is 75 students in this first intake with another 75 starting later in the year. Students are offered a scholarship for tuition and associated costs if they commit to a 2 year posting following qualification. This will hopefully increase the incredibly low numbers of qualified midwives currently based in the provinces and in Sierra Leone as a whole.
I am meeting with the Midwife in charge of the midwifery school at the end of the month, to arrange working in collaboration with them as part of my year with Health Unlimited. I will be working in Northern Bombali so I'll have the opportunity to provide some of their classroom based teaching sessions and create a link for the students between the classroom and their practical training when they are on placements in Northern Bombali.
The school was opened by the First Lady of Sierra Leone (the President's wife) and the students acted out a powerful sketch highlighting the delays which lead to maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.