Friday, 21 March 2014

A crazy week in Kathmandu

I'm coming to the end of a crazy week in Kathmandu.  I've loved staying in the 'At Home' guesthouse - it's a large family house so much more friendly than a hotel and the other guests are really interesting - German, British, Swedish and Nepali.  We all sit around the breakfast table and I enjoy the sharing of experiences and ideas.  The only down side is that our volunteers are staying on the other side of town but we've still managed to share several meals together and meet up during the day. There is a yoga class on the rooftop several mornings a week and some participants stay for breakfast so there are lots of interesting people to meet.
Me with our three midwife volunteers: Asha (Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, England); Fiona (Head of Midwifery, England); Hilary (Lead Midwife for Education, Scotland)
Asha, Fiona and Hilary are on a four week placement helping to 'upskill' Nepal's midwife teachers so that they will be able to deliver the midwifery education curriculum once it starts.  They have prepared and delivered a fantastic programme including leadership.  All participants (including me) did the Myers Briggs Personality Test and I was surprised that my profile had changed considerably since I first took the test in the 1990s.  I'm a lot more T and J than I used to be! I gave a short presentation to the workshop today about the Global Midwifery Twinning Project and enjoyed showing photos from all three countries and talking through some of the challenges midwives are facing.  The Nepalese midwives were so interested in what their sisters are doing across the world.
Planning their ideal birthing rooms. and thinking about small changes they could make right now to improve the environment for birthing women

Role playing birth in upright positions.  They were fascinated (and we had a lot of fun!)

Today I attended a Human Resources for Health workshop in the 5 star 'Yak and Yeti' Hotel - take a look at the website, it's an incredible place  It was a shame we couldn't stay for lunch!  It was a great opportunity to network with health ministers, heads of professional associations, Deans of Universities, NGOs and other agencies and do some advocacy on behalf of the Midwifery Society of Nepal. Hopefully the Universities will soon agree to deliver the midwifery curriculum - but everything here is entrenched in stultifying political red tape.  It's very frustrating.

I had meetings with UNFPA, Ministry of Health and Nursing Council representatives in the afternoon then took the volunteers out for dinner this evening, together with a British Midwife living here in Nepal and her lovely 12 year old daughters.  Tomorrow is meetings and project plans before leaving for the airport at 6am on Sunday morning - and doing all of this again in Uganda next week!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Back in Nepal again

I'm currently on a flying visit to Nepal for just a week.  Next week I go onto Uganda and in April I'll be back in Cambodia.I'm here with the RCM's Global Midwifery Twinning Project (now two thirds complete) to ensure we have a clear direction for the remaining year of the project in Nepal, to meet our RCM volunteers and other RCM members here, to plan for our partner's forthcoming trip to Prague and the UK, to meet all the people involved in the project and the external stakeholders and to plan for the future after GMTP. That's a tall agenda in under a week!

I arrived last night and was delighted to meet a friend ( a Swedish midwife working here with UNFPA) on the flight from Delhi and to be met at the airport by a driver carrying a sign with my name on it.  It's always such a relief not to have to run the gauntlet of gannet-like taxi drivers at the airport.  I have an old Nokia phone with a Nepali SIM card so I topped it up at the airport - it's so important to be able to contact people here.  I changed some money at the airport too - it's so easy there.  I have learned from bitter experience that changing it in a bank here is very complicated and to be avoided at all costs!

I'm staying in a new place, a family-run guesthouse that's very friendly with yummy kiwi jam for breakfast and plenty of tea on tap (essential for me!) There's a new Indian restaurant just across from the guesthouse so handy for dinner. I'm having a vegetarian lent and it's so easy to be veggie in South Asia, with so many delicious veg curries.

It's been a very busy first day in-country. A very important meeting at UNFPA first thing, talking about how we can support each other's work in midwifery capacity building.  Their midwifery advisor leaves her post soon so our continued input will be especially welcome.  Then onto the new National Health Training Centre for a 5 day midwifery education workshop that our UK volunteers are facilitating, helping to bridge the gap between the nurse-midwife training currently on offer and the new midwifery curriculum soon to be introduced in Nepal . From there I went back to the volunteer's hotel for tea and to catch up with them on how their placements have been going to date. They are very senior midwives in the UK - one is a Head of Midwifery and the others are Senior Midwifery Lecturers.  They are doing a brilliant job and working so well together.  They have proved themselves very skilled negotiators!

This evening there was a formal reception and dinner to celebrate the workshop and network with VIPs - Deans and Vice Deans came from various universities who will be responsible for delivering the new midwifery curriculum.  I also met a UK RCM member midwife who has just managed to register as a midwife with the Nepal Nursing Council despite not being a nurse.  This is so exciting as it paves the way for more midwifery registration.  She is a fluent Nepali speaker and we hope to stay in touch and use her as a resource.  I was able to tell her about the RCM's online training tool i-learn, and it's i-portfolio.  Hopefully she will find these very useful for keeping up to date as a midwife.  I also met a Swedish Professor of midwifery also supporting midwifery education here: we shared experiences and made plans to keep in touch.

Back at the guest house there were many e mails to answer, including offering support to a volunteer in Cambodia struggling with her placement.  There's never a dull day in the life of a Global Professional Advisor!

Dhaka Diary

I'm back in Dhaka (Bangladesh), five weeks after my last visit in July, to help facilitate the first ever online election of executiv...