For our 40 trainee village midwives the end is in sight as their year long training course is almost complete. The last hurdle for them will be both theoretical and practical exams before the joy of their graduation in January 2013. And more importantly the joy of returning home after what must have seemed a very long year away from their families and friends and in many cases, their children. Our trainees are immensely dedicated and committed and their families are also incredibly supportive, caring for the children, during this extended period of absence. The women in the villages will also be acutely aware that they are only a month away from having their dream of having an experienced person on hand to help them in childbirth fulfilled. There will be immense excitement and happiness in the villages when the midwives return home. Most of us cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to have no one to give help and advice in pregnancy and childbirth and in particular no one to turn to if things go wrong. It must be particularly frightening for a new mother. So we are pleased that through the help of all our generous supporters the 40 new midwives will be able to bring peace of mind to mothers in more than 20 villages in Darfur. Their presence and their expertise will play a crucial part in reducing the numbers of women dying in childbirth.
Whilst the trainee midwives attend their final lectures and complete their exams, our Project staff are busy ordering the kits of basic equipment and drugs which the midwives will take back with them to the villages to enable them to perform their important role. The trainees will also receive funds to buy a cross bred donkey so that they are able to reach their clients speedily and a mobile phone so that they can contact the local hospital to receive additional advice in very difficult cases and to make referrals to the hospital.
The 40 trainee midwives from the villages are continuing their year long training and the reports suggest that they are making good progress. It takes an immense amount of dedication and hard work from these young women - many of them have left young children and even babies behind in the villages in the care of relatives - such is the extent of their commitment to serve their communities and to help other women to cope with childbirth. Their services are so much needed as the maternal mortality rate in the villages is very high as at present there is no one in the villages able to detect and deal with problem pregnancies. These trainees are due to graduate in January 2013 and they and their communities must be longing for this time to come.
In the meantime the many village midwives, over 80, who have been trained by KIDS FOR KIDS over the past 10 years are continuing to provide great help to their communities. Our Programme Manager is currently in discussion with the Ministry of Health to obtain statistics on the performance of the midwives in the villages in terms of the numbers of mothers they have assisted, the number of women referred to hospital because of problem pregnancies, etc.. .
The 40 trainee village midwives are now almost half way through the year-long training programme and are probably now allowing themselves the luxury of thinking about going home - many have left young children, even babies, back in the village. The commitment of these young women to this training is quite amazing. Their villages are also waiting in eager anticipation for their return with the women in particular longing for the day when they will have expertise on hand when they encounter difficulties in pregnancy or childbirth. Meanwhile the midwives trained previously by KIDS FOR KIDS continue to provide excellent and most valued service to their villages.
The 40 midwife trainees selected from the villages have now completed two months of their year long training. The trainees are living in the new dormitory whose construction was funded by KIDS FOR KIDS at the Ministry of Health's Midwives Training School in 2010. This was funded by KIDS FOR KIDS when we found that lack of accommodation was the principal factor preventing the training an adequate number of village midwives. The commitment of the trainees is outstanding - many of them have left small children to be cared for my family members back home. To find women willing to be parted from their babies and young children for such a long time is quite amazing and shows just how much all women value the possibility of having a trained person in the village to guide them through pregnancy and childbirth and how proud these women are to be able to bring these services and peace of mind to all mothers in the village.
In the meantime the midwives trained in the past by KIDS FOR KIDS are making a real difference to the lives of pregnant women and nursing mothers in the villages. Through their efforts a significant dent has been made in the maternal mortality rate.
We finally have a date for the start of the next training for our village midwives - 15 January 2012. Unfortunately only 40 trainees can be accommodated on the training course run by the provincial Ministry of Health whilst there are 46 midwives waiting to be trained so sadly we will have to delay the training of 6 village midwives for a further year which is very disappointing for the women and for the villages concerned. We have recently selected the 60th village for Kids for Kids support and we dearly want to include the volunteers from this village in the list of trainees. Some of the older villages already have one trained midwife and in some cases we have been asked to train a new midwife to replace someone who has had to give up, usually because they have moved away from the village. In these cases we can feel assured that the woman will take her skills and use them in her new village providing the comfort of expert help at the time of pregnancy and childbirth to yet more women in the villages.
For the women who are finally selected as trainee midwives this will be both an exciting and sad time. Exciting as they are eager to learn their new skills but sad as they will be leaving their families for a year - the length of the training course. This indicates what a huge commitment it is for the women and their families. Many of the volunteers have young children and the families will care for these children whilst their mothers are away on the training course. However, the length of the course demonstrates the importance which we attach to ensuring that the women are adequately trained to deal with complex pregnancies and difficult delivery situations. This means that we can assure the women in the villages that they can trust the village midwives as they are highly trained. Their services are eagerly awaited by the women in the villages who approach pregnancy and childbirth with very mixed emotions - delight at the prospect of having a child but fear should they encounter problems during their pregnancy as there is currently no trained help at hand. Their fears are supported by the unacceptably high maternal mortality rate in the villages - a situation which we are earnestly trying to address.
Another exciting development is that we are in consultation with the provincial Ministry of Health over the possibility of KIDS FOR KIDS funding a new midwives training school at Mellit in the north of the province. This would ease the situation which we are presently facing by virtue of the limited capacity of the Midwives Training School in El Fasher. It would also mean that women from the villages in the north would be able to undertake their training closer to home which would enable family members to visit them more easily. We are still in the very early stages of discussions and will keep you informed of developments in due course.
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