Monday, 20 October 2014

Progress in Cambodia

It's been a great day.  I'm here for my fifth visit to Cambodia with the Global Midwifery Twinning Project.  Our aim is to build the capacity of the Cambodian Midwives Association thereby strengthening the internationally recognised Three Pillars of a strong midwifery profession - Education, Regulation and Professional Midwifery Association.

One of our objectives is to develop the executive members of the association in their roles as midwifery leaders.  A key person in this is the President of the Association.  On my first visit here in May 2013 it was difficult to engage with her, she seemed very disheartened and dis-empowered.  We were supposed to be running a workshop but no plan or programme had been made and I wondered whether we should even continue with the programme or focus in other areas where we were more likely to be able to effect change.  We decided to take the risk.

This time it couldn't be more different.  The President called me on Sunday to see that I had arrived safely and met with me first thing this morning. She has booked time off work to spend with me working on the project.  She was so excited about showing me all the preparation she had done for the workshop: she has prepared a fantastic two day programme.  She's been networking and has invited some interesting speakers to attend and present at the workshop.  The invitations have all been printed and sent out.  The photocopying and materials we need have all been prepared.  The venue and catering (at much more appropriately costed establishments) have been booked.  And she has prepared a presentation, as President, clearly explaining the role of the association, successes and challenges and a great plan for the future.

Mrs Chea Ath showing my her presentation with a beaming smile

I was speechless.  I think I shed a tear or two. We went out for a lovely lunch together, to test the food at the restaurant that is catering for the workshop, and ate all my favourite Khmer dishes: stir fried chicken and ginger, prohok k'thi (minced pork with fermented fish paste, pea aubergines and salad with rice) and cold rice noodles with salad and curry sauce.

There's a long way to go but at least for today I feel a great sense of hope and achievement.  Thanks everyone for your interest in the project and support to me in my role.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Off on my travels - Asia bound

Today is my last day in the office before flying to Cambodia on Friday.  I'll be away from home for nearly 4 weeks.  Here is my schedule:

17- 28 October in Cambodia with Cambodian Midwives Association - hosting workshops and visiting lots of organisations and individuals connected with midwifery in Cambodia.  I'll be staying with my long-time friends Steve and Ruth Penfold.  We all worked together in Cambodia back in the early 1990s and it's great to have reconnected through my recent visits to the country.

28 Oct - 1 Nov in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the regional SAFOG/FIGO conference.  Professor Kiran Bajracharya from the Midwifery Society of Nepal will be presenting a paper. This is a great excitement as raising the profile of our twinned midwifery associations is one of the aims of our Global Midwifery Twinning Project.  Kiran and I will be staying at the YWCA Colombo - first time there and first time in Sri Lanka for me, so that's another pin for the world map!

(Meanwhile, back in Uganda Mary Garote Musoke, President of the Uganda Private Midwives Association, will also be presenting a paper at the Regional Fistula Conference there on 28-29 October.  This will be the first time that midwives have presented to their obstetric colleagues and it's another outcome of our project.  We worked on the abstract together and were delighted to have it accepted.  Wishing you courage and clarity Mary!)

1-9 November in Nepal, working with the Midwifery Society of Nepal evaluating the impact of our project and planning for the future.

10-12 November back in the UK at the RCM's annual conference in Telford, raising the profile of the RCM's global work.

I'll then be taking a few days off to recover from jetlag and catch up with my family before returning to the RCM office on 17th November.

Whilst I'm away I'll still have to keep an eye on correspondence as our project administrator has left and we are waiting for a new person to be appointed.  We are also submitting a bid to our donors for more work to follow on from our twinning project so I'll be working on this remotely too.

Please do continue to follow the blog - I'll try to update it with some photos every few days - and keep sending me messages of encouragement.  They really do keep me going!

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