It's been an amazing, full-on, exhausting and exhilarating day - at the end of which I am sitting in a luxury hotel room after a hot shower, fluffy towels and even a pair of those hotel slippers! We have moved into the hotel where the midwifery conference is to be held - a beautiful, grand hotel, full of olde worlde Nepali charm but very competitively priced and with facilities big enough to host 300 conference delegates tomorrow.
After a quick breakfast, Gillian and I crossed town to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital to observe a Training of Trainers session being run by UNFPA. The University is one of the five government hospitals training midwives and our project volunteers have previously been placed in the Hospital's maternity department to role model women-centred midwifery care. They have also partnered with the midwifery teachers in the University, helping to develop them to be able to teach the new midwifery curriculum currently under development.
The training was excellent, using a relatively new birthing simulator 'Mama Natalie'. I unexpectedly ended up doing some role play, showing how encouraging upright positions in labour can encourage normal birth and prevent complications. It brought a few laughs - I was glad I had worn a Salwar Chemise so I could maintain my modesty throughout some interesting manoeuvres with a chair and a birthing ball!
We enjoyed a tour of the University Library, and saw what books and resources they had (or did not have) for their teaching. In a previous job I was responsible for ordering midwifery books and resources for the University Library - what a difference between the UK and Nepal. However, we were so impressed with the chief librarian, who is also the editor of the Nepal Nursing Education Journal. It was great to see some midwifery contributions to the journal and a strong emphasis on women's health.
We had lunch with the ICM's regional advisor for Asia, an amazing Afghan midwife who founded the Afghan midwifery association and is now helping to strengthen midwifery throughout the region. She has flown in for the midwifery conference and is closely linked with our project. It was emotional seeing each other again - big hugs all round - and a privilege to introduce her to Gillian. Lunches here are great - a takeaway box with a selection of different veggie curries, rice and pickles. Yum.
We moved hotels this afternoon and then all the visiting midwives and some of MIDSON staff were invited to the home of Kirsten, UNFPA Midwifery Advisor. We had a beautiful Nepali meal, sat on the roof terrace with a view of the mountains, and spent some time gathering around Kiran (MIDSON's president) assuring her of our support over the next few days and trying to quell her nerves about the first day of the conference tomorrow.
Taxis home, and then met with Lesley Milne, a British Midwife Teacher/Researcher from Portsmouth who is here for 4 weeks on an RCM/WOW grant to research health worker's views about why women don't access midwifery care. Lesley will be presenting at our conference and is also staying here in the hotel. She's been working in quite rural/remote communities, often on her own, over the past few weeks so is glad of some company and English conversation.
I'm giving a speech at the opening ceremony tomorrow then have been asked to present someone else's research who is unable to attend the conference. I hope I do it justice! On Sunday, Gillian and I are doing a half-hour presentation on midwifery education in the UK so I'm hoping to get some time tomorrow to refresh my knowledge of the NMC standards for midwifery education!
I'm as ready as I can be. I've had (my first ever) Facetime conversation with my daughter and my dog, and now I'm going to fall into that luxury bed and hope to sleep until the alarm rouses me tomorrow. Thanks for following the blog everyone - hope you're enjoying it.
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