Sunday, 28 February 2010

A video from January

Here is a short video which shows the work I was doing with Health Unlimited in January. It is clips from the gender assessments which we carried out in 2 villages in Northern Bombali District. It is my first attempt and the quality is not always brilliant, the camera man (who is really the HU driver) doesn't have the most steady arm and neither do I, so I apologise if you feel slightly sea sick at points where the filming is most wobbly.

Friday, 26 February 2010

February in Kamakwie Wesleyan Hospital and the Makeni Midiwifery School

There hasn't been any updates on here for a while. I had very little internet access in Kamakwie. I have have done a guest blog which I will be doing regularly for the RCM website which is here and has more information on my work at the midwifery school at the begninning of the month.

I enjoyed my first week in Kamakwie after getting over the first night which was a bit of a challenge. We arrived just before dark from Makeni, there is no electricity and I had forgotten to buy matches or candles. I had a battery powered lamp which kept switching itself off so I ended up in bed by 8.30, with my mosquito net very tightly tucked in as when I stayed here in january I woke up in the night to the sound of tiny (mouselike) feet beside my bed!

Kamakwie is a quiet and beautiful place. Only a very small number of people have generators for electricity which means that the stars at night are incredible. there are so many, they are so bright, it feels like you could reach out and touch them. I fall asleep to the chorus of the frogs in the rice swamp next to my house.

I was worried about staying in the house alone but I needn't have been. I was almost never alone. It is too hot to sit inside so I sit on the verandah outside the house. My house is on the roadside so most people walking past stop to say 'Uwaley' - hello, 'Namacotoko?' - how are you? the language spoken here is Limba, I have learnt a few words over the week. People laugh as I write them down in my notebook but otherwise I forget them instantly. The children go to fetch water from the well near my house and come and sit on the wall to watch me read or cook. My neighbours are really friendly and Salimatou across the road comes to say hi. The children below are the audience I had whilst I cooked my first meal in Kamakwie, so meal times are fun!

The hospital is a mission hospital of the Wesleyan Church, every morning the early shift begins with a short service in the chapel. This is normally Pastor Jane giving a sermon followed by prayers. On thursday I arrived and was given a hymn book, every thursday the day starts with 'Singspiration' a service of hymns.

People who have had the misfortune to do Karaoke with me know that I don't have the most tuneful voice. Whilst chatting to the Pastor before the service started I mentioned singing is not my strong point, she assured me that only some people are blessd with a good singing voice, others have the voice of a cockroach but should still sing! there are no instruments, someone hums the tune aloud and then everyone sings. It was an uplifting start to a busy and challenging day. I have just updated the Vodafone world of difference blog page which has more information about my work in the hospital and you can read it here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A meeting and a wedding in Makeni

We had our quarterly project steering meeting on saturday in Makeni. It is a really useful meeting to make sure that the 'kombra en pikin welbodi project' (mother and child health project) is on track, staff from Health Unlimited, the District Health Management Team, Kamakwie Hospital and members of the communities which the project is running in all come along.

Once our meeting ended around 3, I headed over to Magbenteh Community Hospital. It was lovely to see all the hospital staff that I worked with when I volunteered with VSO in 2008, as this was my first time back in Makeni since I left a year ago.

The house was a hive of activity when I arrived with around 30 people involved in cooking food for the 250 people coming to Suzie and Bernhard's wedding celebration. Suzie volunteers at the government hospital (she is also a VSO) and Bernhard works at Magbenteh, they met in 2008 having both left Europe to come and volunteer in Sierra Leone, and got married in the UK in December. The preparations had been underway for two days with two cows being bought and killed and huge pots of rice, potato salad and couscous being prepared on fires outside the house.

The party was great fun, incredibly hot and sweaty, very loud music and lots of cold beer. Everyone had made an incredible effort for the party. All the technical staff from Magbenteh wore teeshirts printed with a picture of Suzie and Bernhard on their wedding day in England. Staff from the government hospital all had different clothes made in the same fabric and all the staff from Magbenteh had done the same with a different fabric so it looked amazing to see so many people with different styles of clothes in two distinct patterns.

This week I have organised teaching sessions with the midwifery school in Makneni and I will start on monday for three days before heading off to Kamakwie to spend 8 days in the hospital identifying areas for training and support. I am looking forward to this as I haven't been at a birth since the end of november and am missing midwifery life!

I took part in a really interesting workshop yesterday. MRC which is a local NGO which has created a database of all the NGO's working in maternal and newborn health in Sierra Leone and their activities. Quite a few of the NGO's including Health Unlimited were asked to come and identify activities which should be researched in order to choose really effective ones for scaling up across Sierra Leone to reduce maternal and infant mortality.

Next week news from the midwifery school, I am also trying to put together a video of my first weeks here. I am not technically brilliant at this so it may take a while!