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Amazing Progress: Testimony of a Volunteer Nurse Midwife

Amazing Progress: Testimony of a Volunteer Nurse Midwife

Bernadette Lawlor

Nurse Midwife Bernadette Lawlor came to our hospital as a volunteer in 2014. During her three-month stay in Hargeisa, Bernadette threw herself whole soul into helping student nurses develop their skills. One year on, during a brief return visit, Bernadette had occasion to recall some of the highlights of her stay, and marvel at the progress made by her students, once timid young women, now confident and competent professionals who are a credit to all who have invested in their training.

I first came to Edna’s Hospital in Somaliland in 2014 as a volunteer Nurse Midwife from Australia. Not knowing what to expect and wondering how to be of use, I was nevertheless confident someone would teach someone a little, either way.

One year on, Bernadette reconnects with her student nurses

One year on, Bernadette reconnects with her student nurses

I was lucky to have timed my visit to coincide with the student nurses starting their first rotation to the ward where they had to actually work on real patients. I’m not sure who was more nervous, them or me. They were a wonderful group of young and enthusiastic students, so keen to learn, so scared of that first procedure or major critical event. We bonded well and made for a good team. They helped me with local knowledge and language, I helped them with all things nursing.

The first thing I needed to adapt to was ‘time’, it seems Somaliland time was a little more ‘relaxed’ than my Aussie time. We agreed to meet each day at 11am to talk, debrief, have an impromptu lesson on relevant issues on the ward etc. I was forever waiting for them to come, but one by one they came. Time seems to have a different meaning here; I eventually relaxed right into it.
I had a wonderful three months. The students progressed well, became more confident and skilled. They were happy with their progress, some amazed at what they had achieved.

While I was at the Hospital, Edna took me on a day trip to Gabiley, a nearby town where she was recruiting the next group of Community Midwives. It was a lesson for me on how tough it was to be accepted onto the course – the interview process, the exam, and the ‘Edna Lecture’ of what she expected, should they be accepted. It was an interesting day and Edna was patient with all my questions on the return trip. I was so impressed by the effort and commitment these girls were prepared to make. It was quite an amazing opportunity they were about to be given. I left Somaliland with a huge smile on my face and a sense of experiencing something wonderful.

Exam results announced

Exam results announced

I had no plans to return until a holiday in 2015 put me in the northern hemisphere again and I couldn’t help but ‘pop in’ to see how the students and everyone were going. Although a much shorter trip this time, it was great to see how the students were progressing, so much more confident and experienced.

Over dinner one evening, Edna brought to my attention that the student Community Midwives currently on the ward were actually the young ladies we went to Gabiley to assess. They had made it through the first stage of study. It brought a wonderful sense of progress. They had developed from shy young girls to keen and eager student midwives. Great progress to witness.

Edna and all the staff who invest in the training of these young men and women should be so proud. Providing, as they do, hope and a future to these young adults of Somaliland. I felt privileged to have witnessed a snippet of Somaliland’s new future. Thank you to everyone at the Edna Adan Hospital for such a wonderful stay, both times. I look forward to seeing the graduation photos of both classes on the website.

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