The day was arranged following a very successful “Midwives for Africa Day” in July 2013. It was suggested at that time, that another be held, once the visits funded by the current grant had begun.

Those attending included four from Swindon, seven from Birmingham and Worcestershire, one from London and one from Cardiff. Several had attended the July event and we were pleased that we were able to welcome some new faces to the day. Dr David Holmes joined the group in the afternoon, having travelled from Cheltenham to offer help and support for the next visits. David will be amongst those travelling to Sierra Leone in May.

Guests for part or the whole of the day included Assia Kay a volunteer whom I met at the Tutu Coaching course and who was a great help as the attendees arrived,  Mrs Anne O’Regan, a supporter of the charity since its inception in 2005, Travers Merrill and his colleague from ABESU, a charity working in Zambia, which includes maternal health and Mrs Fowzia Ali from the Hayaat Women’s Trust which is based in Cardiff and supporting maternal health in Somaliland. Mr Indyren Yagambrun from the Royal Commonwealth Society, a long-time supporter of LFAM.

We were joined in the afternoon by Matt Price and Suzanne Saunders, Chair and Trustee of LFAM and then Laurence Kahn. Phil Davies collected the lunch and stayed for part of the afternoon.

Apologies were received from several midwives, whose clinical commitments, house moves, vehicle breakdowns had prevented them from attending. The Chair of Cardiff and Vale Health Board had intended to visit the day for a while but the demands of her diary meant that she was unable to attend. Katherine Clifford from our funder was also unable to attend but welcomed the fact that she would receive a report on the day.

The day began with a powerpoint, outlining LFAM’s work and included photos and statistics from the CEO’s visit to Liberia and Sierra Leone at the end of August 2013. Short films followed which showed the environment for women and their babies in Sierra Leone and Ghana, plus the film of the Liberian midwives whose song helped them to remember what needs to be done for babies who are not breathing.

The midwives who have recently returned from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso reported back and emphasized that they had learned a great deal as practitioners. The significant contribution to the success of the visits to Liberia by Abdul Rahim-Bah from Redemption Hospital was acknowledged. To quote Abdul in a recent communication “LFAM has raised expectations.”  Very significantly, we were very pleased to hear from the team who travelled to Freetown that the relationship with the Chief of Staff at Lumley had been repaired and that plans could go ahead for including their staff for the workshops. Marie and her team were able to report that the situation for the midwives in Burkina Faso’s capital had improved significantly with simple interventions such as wedges which allow the women to deliver in a more upright position.

Mrs Fowzia Ali spoke on behalf of her Link, appealing for a midwife to travel with her to Somaliland in order to deliver training. Marie agreed to talk to Fowzia with a view to making the visit later in the year.

LUNCH FOLLOWED AND WAS MUCH ENJOYED.

After lunch, opportunities other than to Burkina Faso, Liberia and Sierra Leone for the midwives were offered.

Mr Travers Merrill provided a brief outline of the urgent need for midwives to support a new maternity unit in Zambia and left some literature with more details. I have since provided contact details of Dr Charles Ameh from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine which holds a database of 400 volunteer midwives.

Requests have been received and were shared, from three other organisations, Rotary Doctor Bank for midwives to travel to Zambia from October onwards, Channel Initiative who require midwives to support Panzi Hospital in the Eastern DRC and Health Improvement Project Zanzibar who need a midwife to work on the island for 3-6months. A short film was shown which had been sent to LFAM and showed that the situation at Ridge Hospital, Accra, Ghana does not appear to have improved since the training visits by midwives in 2012 funded by Al Muntada.

Gill Peace, our Intern gave an overview of what is required of midwives wishing to volunteer for our programmes. Additionally she explained what the midwives cam expect from LFAM and then what LFAM expects of them, including some fundraising in their workplaces and communities.

Dr David Holmes presented a very comprehensive account of the project in Kambia, Northern Sierra Leone which has succeeded in delivering a major reduction in maternal and neonatal mortality.

The day concluded with the midwives completing an evaluation of the day, the results of which are as follows..

Expectations of the day..ranging from “Extremely well met” to “Not at all met”

Extremely well met – 6.

Very well met – 5.

Attendees were asked for three “Benefits of the day.” Words were as follows..Networking, Motivational, Encourage Self Development, Continue with Mentoring, Inspire Colleagues, Reminds me how lucky we are, Plans for the future, Support, Knowledge, Working areas, To learn that we can make a difference, Inspires me to keep going to Africa, Listening to other people’s experiences, Talking to other people, Good effective teamwork, Liaising with other midwives, More info on Life for African Mothers, Networking with other organisations, David’s inspirational figures on the impact of the work, Being able to share stories on travel, tips..good and bad, Sharing of skills/expertise, How work can be taken forward, Feeling valued.

Three words to describe the event…Fun, Interesting, Positive, Life learning commitment, Inspiring, Informative, Motivating, Friendly, Humbling, Hopeful, Excellent, Fascinating.

Suggestions for future event…Medical equipment Representative to attend as happened last time. (I had invited someone from Laerdal who make the MamaNatalie to attend but they have had a company seminar abroad this week and they could not spare anyone.) Full presentations from those who have been on visits rather than the less formal feedback. Round table discussion on the workbook used at the workshops.

As additional comments, I am to be invited to speak at a Fundraising Ball in November at Redditch and those from Swindon are to see whether I can visit their workplace to speak to the staff.

The attendees appeared to have enjoyed the day, with those travelling to Freetown next month taking some of the baby clothes with them.

With everyone’s approval, Matt filmed part of the afternoon’s discussions.

I would like to thank Fadhili Maghiya, our Project Manager and Gill Peace our volunteer intern, who have done an enormous amount of work to ensure the success of the day and as previously mentioned, Assia Kay and Phil Davies for their practical help on the day.

 

Angela Gorman, 23rd February 2014.