Sunday, 8 October 2017

Bangladesh Bulletin

The Royal College of Midwives and the Bangladesh Midwifery Society started a new twinning partnership in June 2017.  Initially for one year, this may extend for a further 3 years if successful.  The project is part of a larger midwifery strengthening project in Bangladesh, funded by UK-Aid and UNFPA.
Action planning

Activities for the first year include setting up the twinning partnership, undertaking an organisational assessment using the MACAT tool, identifying and engaging stakeholders, visiting all 8 branches (divisions) around the country, developing a new membership database, employing a staff member as executive assistant, writing a newsletter, developing capacity in advocacy, making some improvements to the office, holding an AGM and conducting elections for the executive committee.  A busy year!

Having conducted a scoping visit in October 2106, I arrived in Bangladesh on Sunday for my second visit this year.  Additionally, our consultant Tamara Curtis visited in in August.  So far we are making good progress; the partnership is taking shape, the MACAT and Stakeholder Analyses have been achieved, job descriptions have been developed, interviews will take place on Friday and office improvements are underway.  Today we made plans for the AGM and the election, for visiting three divisions later this week, for writing our newsletter and visiting key stakeholders.  We hope to hold a closing event on Saturday to share our achievements with the midwifery community.

MACAT Workshop, July 2017

I'm pleased to be accompanied on this trip by Welsh Midwife Terry Kana, an RCM member who sits on our global advisory group and is a Senior Research Associate at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.  Terry is very familiar with Bangladesh having conducted many training courses here and also collected data for her PhD from all over the country.  It's great to be with someone who is really knows the country and understands the culture.  She's also a phenomenal facilitator and I'm learning so much from her.  I am on the academic programme board for the RCM-accredited Diploma in Sexual and Reproductive Health at Liverpool, so this has been a great opportunity for us to deepen the relationship between our two organisations. (PS it's a great course, why not consider it?!)
Me with Halima, President of the Bangladesh Midwifery Society, and Terry from LSTM

We're here until Sunday 15th and both have a busy few weeks when we return so we're trying to pace ourselves, take time and space to reflect and to explore the city as well as work, work, work.  So far we've been significantly underwhelmed by Asia's largest mall (Jamuna Future Park), eaten some nice food (I can recommend dahl for breakfast) and negotiated Ubers and CNGs (tuk tuks).  Looking forward to dinner with resident friends later this week and spending more time with these lovely Bangladeshi Midwives who are working so hard to bring high quality midwifery to women and newborns in Bangladesh.  Viva La Twinning :)

Today's working lunch in BMS office: Nan bread and veggie curry with fresh coconut juice.  Delicious

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Totally unauthentic but very nice veggie noodles

One of my favourite dishes in the whole world is Cambodian Noodles or Nom Banh Chok.  A bowl of these with a friend at the Russian Market in Phnom Penh, with a Cambodian iced coffee made from condensed milk is the stuff of my dreams.  If you want to know how to make authentic Cambodian noodles you can see a video here.

Back in the UK we eat a lot of Asian food in our house: with my years of living in Southeast Asia and Hannah's Chinese heritage I guess it's not surprising, plus I am able to buy Asian ingredients when I travel.  Noodles in some form make it on the household menu most weeks, often on a night before a grocery delivery when we need to use up lots of odd veggies from the fridge.  Tonight I had a vague plan to cook something noodley but when I opened the fridge I saw a bag of left-over cooked spaghetti from Monday's bolognese.  I hate waste so decided to see how Spaghetti worked in place of noodles.  It was delicious!

So, here is my recipe for very un-authentic but quite delicious veggie 'noodles' with left-over spaghetti, another money-saving tip from the Kemps Kitchen!

Saute until soft the following:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 sticks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 cms fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 fresh green chilli

Add 2 tsp medium curry powder and cook for about 5 mins, adding a few tbsp water if it gets too dry.

Add to the pan:
  • a bag of prepared veg (in this case carrot, cauliflower and brocolli), chopped a bit smaller (I don't normally used prepared veg but had some left over from Sunday lunch.  Of course, just use any veg that you have in your fridge or freezer)
  • 1 tin chick peas, drained and rinsed (or any beans.  Again, totally un-authentic but who cares?  Of course you could use chicken, pork or fish too)
  • 1 tin coconut milk (or 1/2 tin coconut and top up with water) 
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (or salt if you're being strictly veggie)
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (you can substitute the juice of half a lemon or a lime, or even some vinegar.  The purpose of this is to give the sour taste)
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or any sugar)
  • 1 veggie stock cube (I know, totally un-Asian but adds an Umami hit when you're not cooking with meat)

Cook until the veg is almost soft but retains some bite.  Add in 1 chopped courgette near the end.

Throw in some leftover spaghetti (of course you can use any noodles, soaked or cooked according to the packet instructions) and heat through.  Add more water if necessary to give a soupy consistency.

Top with chopped peanuts, a chopped fresh red pepper, some chopped coriander and some crispy friend onions (mine come in a jar from an Asian Supermarket).

Serve with extra chopped chillies on the side.

Hannah had thirds.  Our serious German lodger, who doesn't like spicy food, had two helpings and said it had a 'well-balanced flavour'.  Hilarious.  I shall take that as a compliment and judge the meal to have been a success!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Blasting off with the BOOST Project

The Royal College of Midwives has recently signed a contract with UNFPA Bangladesh to help strengthening the Bangladesh Midwifery Society (BMS) through a twinning project, similar to what we have implemented in Uganda, Cambodia and Nepal.  We are calling this new project BOOST: Bangladesh Midwifery Society Opportunity for Organisational Development through Twinning. Initially for one year, the project may extend for a further 3 years and is being funded by DFID through UNFPA. During this first phase we will help BMS to undertake an organisational capacity assessment using tools from the International Confederation of Midwives and walk through a series of other activities together such as situational and stakeholder analyses and an election of office bearers.

With Halima Akter, President of BMS, in October 2016

I visited Bangladesh in October 2016 to meet BMS and to attend the Midwifery Services Framework Workshop that was being hosted by UNFPA and ICM, At that time I visited various clinical sites and educational facilities, met funders and beneficiaries, undertook an intial risk assessment and began to get a feel for what it might be like to have a programme presence here.  Since then, we've been negotiating contracts, developing job descriptions and begun recruiting for the personnel we need to deliver the agreed outcomes (in addition to completing our recent MOMENTUM project in Uganda).  On Friday we appointed a volunteer for a six month placement who will start her new role with BMS in September.  Next week we will be interviewing for a consultant to help with project management and hope to soon fill the Global Projects Officer post at the RCM.

Meanwhile, I have been asked to take some time to pause and reflect on the RCM's programmes, processes, achievements and challenges thus far and to publish and disseminate our work.  This takes time but we've made a start and hope to have some published articles soon to show for it.

Right now, I've just arrived back in Bangladesh for a week of strategising with BMS.  I hope to be joined by the ICM's technical advisor Pashtoon Zyaee, visa permitting, on Wednesday. Pashtoon and I have worked together before in Nepal and it will be a joy to do so again.  If she doesn't make it, I'll be a very busy woman over the next week!

With Pashtoon in Nepal, April 2013
Other things to do whilst I'm here involve setting up arrangements with VSO to house and provide security for any RCM volunteers visiting the country and catching up with Sue Lloyd, a friend from Cambodia days.  I'm still recovering from jetlag after visiting Canada and the USA so will be trying to ensure I get enough sleep.

Meanwhile at home, Hannah has just finished her A levels and is off on her first girlie holiday to Greece, leaving her parents quaking in their boots :)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

RCM global midwifery update from Toronto

I am currently in Toronto, attending the International Confederation of Midwives 31st Triennial Congress and the preceding council meetings.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet midwives from all over the world and to consider the role of the Royal College of Midwives in strengthening midwifery globally.  It’s particularly special to be here with our twinning partners from midwifery associations in Cambodia, Nepal and Uganda.
With Ann and Address, midwives from Malawi

Since April 2017 I have travelled widely around the UK; twice to Cardiff for global health events, to Edinburgh and London for the launch of a new leaflet for nurses and midwives interested in working internationally, to Liverpool to give a keynote lecture for International Day of the Midwife, teaching student midwives at Kings College London, to Oxford for the RCM’s Zepherina Vietch Lecture, to York for another keynote lecture and to Salford – to talk about writing up some of our work as a PhD!

I have also travelled to Uganda to close the MOMENTUM project, which was implemented in partnership with our twinned association The Uganda Private Midwives Association.  This project aimed to develop a model of midwifery mentorship for Uganda.  The final evaluation found that the project had achieved its objectives and also had many unforeseen benefits. I coordinated the closing workshop and remaining data collection and co-hosted the international/Ugandan team conducting the final project evaluation. We also conducted a needs assessment to inform any future projects and facilitated a development opportunity for one of the RCM’s staff members, Jack Andrew (Data Analyst), to visit Uganda and experience and understand our global work.  Whilst in Uganda we also offered peer support to RCM members living and working there long-term.

With Diane, RCM member working in the Kampala Slums

With Fishy, RCM member working in rural Jinja
Presenting certificates of appreciation at the final MOMENTUM workshop
'‘MOMENTUM has been crucial in not only developing the mentorship model, but also getting various stakeholders to talk to each other and work together to address professional issues and challenges
(Final Project Evaluation)

I have been involved in the RCM’s ongoing review of its global work – since February we have had a task and finish group to develop the RCM’s global strategy.  This work will be presented to the RCM executive later this month.  We have also been developing resources, such as the leaflet mentioned earlier, for our members who have an interest in global work.

So, as for many others, this has been a busy but fruitful few months.  Sadly our global projects officer, Eleanor Shaw, has moved on from the RCM and I want to take this opportunity to thank her for being such a wonderful colleague, for keeping me sane and for helping to shape and develop both the MOMENTUM project and the RCM’s wider global work. We wish you well and will miss you Eleanor!

We have been successful in getting funding from DFID through UNFPA to start a new twinning relationship with the Bangladesh Midwifery Society and so I will be travelling to Dhaka after my time in Canada, to undertake activities to establish the new partnership.

With Halima, President of the Bangladesh Midwives Association, in October 2016

Meanwhile, here in Toronto I will be leading a symposium with our twinning partners on the long-term impact of midwifery association twinning.  We also have a poster presentation about the MOMENTUM project and I will be representing the RCM on our exhibition stand at regular intervals.  It will be a very busy 10 days of networking and meetings, so all prayers and good wishes for stamina are appreciated!  Thanks for your interest in our global work.

The world needs more midwives!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Guest blog from Jack Andrew

Hello All!

This is Jack Andrew here. Joy has kindly given me opportunity to write a guest post for her blog so here I am! A little information about me and why I’m here to begin with before I delve into my experiences with the MOMENTUM project in Uganda.

I am the RCM's data analyst, a job which I fulfil part time as I'm a keen sportsman and still compete in the decathlon both nationally and internationally. I was given the chance to travel to Uganda with the RCM’s MOMENTUM project team through a career development opportunity advertised internally.  Admittedly I am no expert in midwifery, international development or Uganda but I got the travelling bug a few years back and have enjoyed experiencing new places and cultures ever since. I saw this as a golden opportunity to experience part of the world I had never visited from a completely unique perspective, so I applied and it turns out it was possibly the best 300 words I ever wrote!

Jack's first official meeting in Uganda with Joy Kemp (RCM Global Professional Advisor), Catherine Odeke (Centre: Ugandan Commissioner for Nursing and Midwifery, Ministry of Health) and Sarah Najego (Right: UPMA Monitoring and Evaluation Officer)

I left Uganda yesterday after a busy final day capturing some more videos  of key stakeholders, saying my goodbyes to the friends I have made during my visit as well visiting the slum with RCM member Diane Lockhart. I am currently sat in Brussels airport on a three hour layover trying to put fingers on keys about my experiences and what I have learned. Unfortunately I don’t think it has all sunk in yet but I’ll do my best to get what has down for you.

The past week has been a very steep learning curve for me not just in terms of how the MOMENTUM project has run and trying to understand the impact it is having but also in maternity services in general (let alone maternity services in Uganda!). Joy and Eleanor have been tremendous in helping me get up to speed with the project, explaining maternity services, giving me a heads up on local customs and introducing me to the key stakeholders so after just a week I felt I had good overview of the project and its intended impact.

Jack meeting the RCM's partners, The Uganda Private Midwives Association, for the first time and understanding the process of developing the Inception Document for the Final Project Evaluation.  The evaluation is being undertaken by an external team with both Ugandan and UK consultants

It’s been a very busy week with some long (lunch-less) days which admittedly was a struggle at first as I'm so used to regular consuming  vast amounts of food at home due to my decathlon training. I’ve had exposure to all levels of the Ugandan maternity services, from meeting with Commissioner for Nursing and Midwifery at the Ministry of Health to visiting families in the slum. Meeting key stakeholders at MOMENTUM project pilot sites in the government health centres and UPMA clinics was a fascinating experience even for someone with limited knowledge of maternity services.

The MOMENTUM project is coming to a close at the end of this month and although I haven’t been involved all the way through I was lucky enough to interview almost all of the key stakeholders and hear their views on the impact the project is having. Different stakeholders had encountered different challenges during the course of the project, but were all united in the fact that they all had such positive things to say about the impact of the project, the changes it is starting to bring and the working relationship they have developed with the RCM.

Jack and Joy visit Robinah's maternity home.  Robinah and two of her staff have been trained as mentors during the MOMENTUM project and have now mentored 4 student midwives for their domiciliary placement

Jack doing video interviews with Robina and Rose, two midwives in government service at the Wakiso Level IV Health Centre.  Robina was twinned with UK consultant midwife Kade Mondeh during the MOMENTUM project and they communicate regularly via Whatsapp.  Robina and Rose have both been trained as mentors, along with 3 other midwives and have now mentored many studentmidwives.  The clinic has also been upgraded with solar lighting and basic midwifery equipment to enable the clinic to work safely 24/7 and the students to practice all the necessary skills to become competent midwives.  Quality of care has also improved; many more women are coming to birth their babies at the Health Centre and far fewer women and babies are being transferred out for sepsis or asphyxia

For me the highlight of the trip has to have been the people. The people of Uganda are so friendly and seemed happy to stop and talk at any time of day. Although this did prove to be a bit of an issue during the walking tour we took around Kampala at the weekend as I was often left 20 paces behind the group after becoming engrossed in a conversation with a local about English football, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I also had the chance to meet two RCM members, Diane Lockhart and Rachel Haddock (Fishy),both incredible people, both based in Uganda and both doing some amazing work out here.
Jack saying goodbye to new friends: Lamula (left, UPMA's secretary) and Bonny (right, UPMA's driver)

RCM Member Diane Lockhart from Northern Ireland, living in Uganda long-term and working in a Kampala Slum.  MOMENTUM donated her a new fetal doppler which was immediately put to good use with a client in her slum clinic.  Jack had the opportunity to visit the slum, meeting families in their homes and sharing a plate of matoke (steamed plantain) with the chief, 'Mr Chairman'.

Joy with RCM member Rachel Haddock (Fishy) who lives in Uganda long-term works in a community health outreach project in Jinja.  RCM staff try to meet up with Fishy on every visit and provide a listening ear.  We also supported her to revalidate with the NMC last year by acting as 'confirmer' for all her documentation.

Jack saying goodbye to midwife Mary, UPMA's president

It’s also been nice to get out and do some training sessions on the Kampala hills, the temperature at 6:30am was very pleasant and perfect for getting an early morning session in, that said I did have to run in a monsoon one morning!

Anyway thanks for reading, I feel like the above has only scratched the surface on my time in Uganda but I hope it’s been informative none the less. I am also hoping to put together a short video about the MOMENTUM project and my time away here so stay tuned for that!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Closing out the MOMENTUM project

I'm in Uganda again for 2 weeks to close out the RCM's MOMENTUM project (Developing a Model of Mentorship for Ugandan Midwifery).

Opening meeting with our partners UPMA and the Ugandan project evaluation team
MOMENTUM is a twinning project between the RCM and the Uganda Private Midwives Association.  However, we've also been working closely with the Ugandan Nurses and Midwives Council, the Ministries of Health and Education, various universities and midwifery training schools and seven clinics or health centres.  The project aimed to develop a national standard for midwifery mentorship, to develop a work-based learning module to train midwives as mentors (and test the module by training 40 mentors) and make improvements in 4 clinical pilot sites (8 clinics, a mixture of government, faith-based and private facilities).   Our team of 7 UK midwives have completed their assignments and all our targets have been met.  Our team is here to collect the last of the data, to conduct a closing workshop presenting the model to all the stakeholders, to coordinate the final evaluation, to undertake some qualitative research and to generate ideas for follow-on projects.  
New solar light at Mukono Level IV Health Centre installed by the MOMENTUM project - 20 deliveries a day and previously delivering babies by candlelight when the power was off.  One candle nearly caused a catastrophic fire.  Now students can get experience of conducting deliveries round the clock
Alex, lead midwife, proudly showing us the solar light switch

Our team is comprised of 3 RCM staff members: Eleanor and I from the global team and Jack Andrew, the RCM's data analyst, here as a career development opportunity and also helping us with data collection and analysis and by making a video about the project.   Eleanor's partner Sean and baby Etta are here with us too so it's lovely having a baby to stop us working too hard in the evenings.  Apart from working for the RCM Jack is a Decathlete with the British Athletics Team so he's used to training a lot and eating lots of healthy food at regular intervals.  The long lunch-less days and lack of fruit and veg are challenging him; today we had to make an emergency stop at a hotel when Jack turned pale and wan!
Always an important visit at the start of our trip, to make sure that our programme continues to align with MOH priorities and to meet important officials who can ensure the sustainability of the project's outputs
Jack and I meeting with Catherine Odeke, the Commissioner for Nursing and Midwifery at the Ministry of Health.  Sarah (UPMA's M&E officer) on the right.

 Tomorrow we are meeting with midwife tutors and visiting one more clinic.  Jack will spend some time in a Kampala Slum with RCM member and midwife Diane Lockhart, working there doing an incredible job.  Also 'Fish'y (Rachel Haddock) another UK midwife and RCM member will join us for the weekend.  It's great to connect with our international members and offer some encouragement whilst we're in-country.
With Rogers, Brenda and Patrick, tutors from the Mukono Diocese School of Nursing and Midwifery

Jack videoing Robina and Rose, two midwives who have been trained as mentors at Wakiso Level IV Health Centre

Sarah Mwanje, Private Midwife and trainer mentor, proudly showing her trainer's handbook

Friday, 3 February 2017

A visit from our Ugandan Twins

23 October 2016

Looking back over the past almost 4 years as Global Professional Advisor for the Royal College of Midwives, there have been several periods of intense activity during which re reassure ourselves that calmer waters are ahead - only those peaceful pools seldom occur.  The past few weeks have been packed with logistically complicated programmes and the days ahead offer little respite.  However, we wouldn't have it any other way.  We know that investing in midwifery is the most cost-effective intervention in public health and working with our partners so that, in the future, every woman and newborn receives accessible, acceptable, affordable and quality midwifery care is an enormous privilege that drives us to respond.

Introducing our twins to a Full English Breakfast on the morning they arrived in the UK

Over the past few days, five of our Ugandan midwife partners have come to the UK on an exchange visit.  Three of them had never travelled outside Africa so we knew they would need careful nurturing to best make use of the experience.  We therefore arranged for them to stay in homes rather than hotels and to make sure that they were always accompanied on visits.  We exposed them to as many British experiences as we could - traditional tea rooms, Lancashire Hotpot, Tube Trains, propeller planes, high speed railways and the the M25, Poundland and Primark, London buses, village greens, churches and castles, country parks, crumble (lots of it!) and of course, our unpredictable Autumn weather.  We reassured them that it was safe to walk through long grass without fear of snakes or lions; we instructed in proper escalator etiquette, equipped them with coats and warm jumpers (donated by kind friends and colleagues) and spent weeks prior to their visit cooking and freezing tasty traditional meals and bakes whilst also trying to provide some more familiar flavours of home.

Walking in a Kentish Country Park.  Why don't we eat the ducks?!

Of course this visit was not just about sharing cultural experiences.  Our programme 'MOMENTUM' is helping to develop a model of midwifery mentorship for Uganda.  We therefore planned as much exposure (as was possible in a short window) to UK midwifery and mentorship as we could for our twins.  Together they visit hospitals, birth centre and universities in Kent, London, Surrey and Northern Ireland.  They met policy makers, professional and regulatory bodies, midwives in many different roles. maternity support workers, student midwives and lecturers - and of course - women and their partners.  They observed PRROMPT training, explored database systems, had presentations by Skype from Scotland and marvelled at student midwifery societies.  Together we did 2 conference presentations and met ministers of state, funding bodies, the President of the International Confederation of Midwives and our own chief executive, Cathy Warwick.

Visiting a midwife-led unit in Belfast with RCM volunteer Elizabeth Bannon OBE

We also took time to reflect formally on these experiences and make individual and collective work plans for how this learning will influence our MOMENTUM programme and midwifery in Uganda. It was a time to deepen individual twinning relationships and we were delighted that almost all of our 7 UK MOMENTUM midwife consultants were able to give time out of their busy lives to meet and host their twins.
Introducing our friends to tube travel!

Two of our Ugandan colleagues work in government health centres, delivering up to 21  babies per days in just one room with a total staff of just 13 midwives and one doctor to cover all aspects of maternity care.  Compare that with my local NHS Trust in Kent - a similar number of deliveries but with its own free standing birth centre containing all home comforts, a referral hospital with 14 delivery rooms and staff of almost 300 midwives plus countless doctors and other professionals. Over and over again we heard our guests say 'you have so much space' and goggle at the wastefulness of resources through away after each use when every swab, glove and instrument would make the world of difference to their constrained services.  Perhaps every midwife from the UK should spend some time in a low-resource country to appreciate the privilege that it is to work in our own settings.

Enjoying an English Country Garden with our host (centre) Helen Cooke

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Update from Uganda

Update from Uganda

I am halfway through a 2 week visit to Uganda with the RCM’s MOMENTUM project.  As the RCM’s Global Professional Advisor I am also the programme leader and responsible for ensuring that we reach our objectives and reporting to our donors (UK-Aid through THET).

(right) Kade Mondeh, Consultant Midwife from London, with midwife Brenda who has been trained as a mentor during this project.  She came in to work on her day off to go through the mentorship paperwork.  Thank you Brenda!

Our programme is a pilot project, testing whether mentorship for midwifery students by midwives works as a concept here in Uganda.  There are three separate but connected work-streams: first, helping the Ugandan Nursing and Midwifery Council to develop a national standard for mentorship; secondly, developing a work-based learning CPD module for midwives to train as mentors; thirdly, working in partnership to improve the clinical learning environment in four pilot sites that represent a breadth of maternity care provision (public, private and faith-based).    The project finishes in April so the next few months are pivotal in ensuring that all steps in the model are established and widely communicated and evidence collected of any change that’s happened thus far.  We also want to ensure that these changes are sustained as far as possible and we’re pleased that our long-term partnership with the Ugandan Private Midwives Association makes this more achievable. 

Student midwives from Jinja and Mengo schools of midwifery who have received mentorship during this project.  Robina, the lead midwife from this Level IV Health Centre, is twinned with Kade Mondeh, a consultant midwife from London.  Robina has participated in our workshops and has trained as a mentor.  Four other midwives at this site have also been trained by Robina and Kade.  There are up to 3000 births per year at this clinic and 80 antenatal visits per day as well as running the postnatal ward, the family planning clinic and other services.  All this with a total of 5 midwives, between 1-3 per shift.  And still we complain in the UK!
Thankfully I don’t have to do this alone!  Six experienced UK midwives, all RCM members with different and complementary skills, are twinned Ugandan counterparts and responsible for different areas of the programme (see here for an earlier blog about our fabulous team ).  Additionally, back in the UK, our Global Projects Officer and the wider RCM team provide essential support and guidance.  This time I’m here with our UK ‘twins’ and we’ve been out in the field this week, visiting all the pilot sites and reconnecting with our Ugandan twins and wider stakeholders.  I’ve travelled many miles and the roads are dry and dusty – there’s been little rain here for 6 months and it’s unusually hot – up to 34c during the day.  Not as hot as Cambodia but still sticky and no aircon or other creature comforts!  Thankfully our guesthouse has a good water supply and the dust can be washed away at the end of the day. 

Some of our UK team enjoying meeting again in at our Guesthouse and catching up on news, sharing photos

Our Ugandan 'twins' visited the UK in October and December (one of them even met HRH Princess Anne with me!) and this has been a great time of reunion, sharing stories and memories.  Yesterday our twins hosted a lunch for us in Mukono with traditional Ugandan food, dancing and an enormous cake!
Evelyne and I at the EMA midwifery education conference in London in December 2016 on the day we met Princess Anne
The amazing cake that our Ugandan colleagues had made for the party
Dancing at the party
This week I’ve had meetings at the Ministry of Health and the Ugandan Nurses and Midwives Council, visited hospitals, health centres and clinics within 100 mile radius of Kampala, met with tutors and students at midwifery training schools and universities and spent much time reflecting, discussion and planning with our team.  Next week we hold a workshop where we bring all the project participants together to reflect, learn and plan together.  This time we are co-teaching with our Ugandan colleagues to ensure that they can cascade the mentorship programme in their own sites.  We’re trying to model ‘learning on your feet’ in the workshop with minimal presentations and lots of participation and movement;  a counter-cultural approach to learning!

Midwife tutor Evelyne with her twin Aine Alam at Kiwoko School of Midwifery

The workshop also gives us a chance to reach out to RCM members who are in Uganda for the longer term; they have helped us to shape our programmes in Uganda and the support we offer to our volunteers.  We’re proud of them and the work that they do.  We look forward to welcoming Professor Grace Edwards, Diane Lockheart and Rachel Haddock (Fishy) tomorrow and hope that they find the stories of success and challenge, the learning and reflection and the future planning helpful and inspiring. One of our volunteers is also using her long weekend off to fly north to Arua, an underserved and remote town on the border with DRC, to visit and offer support to another RCM member (Kate Quarrell) who is teaching midwifery there.  Sisterhood rocks!
Visiting midwives and students in their clinics, hospitals and health centres

I’m grateful to everyone who supports this project and me personally.  Thanks for reading.

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...