She is little more than a girl, but on this day in the village of Shahidan, Shahrbanoo proves to be a woman of confidence, conviction and capability. While surveying the maternal health of the community, the young midwife knocks on the door of a small house where she knows a pregnant woman has given birth.
How is the mother, Shahrbanoo asks. The man at the door refuses to let her in.
Backing away, Shahrbanoo moves onto the next house. But when her survey work is done, the Jhpiego-trained midwife returns to the house where she has been turned away. She knocks firmly: I am a midwife. I am here to help.
The man resists, is skeptical that this young girl who has neither medicines nor any tools can help his wife. He has given up hope.
Shahrbanoo insists that she enter. This time, the man relents.
Inside, the wife, a mother of six, is still bleeding after giving birth. Shahrbanoo examines her. The mother is likely to bleed to death if the placenta isn’t removed. There isn’t enough time to get her to a health facility. Shahrbanoo finds a plastic bag to protect herself, uses it as a glove and, with the skills she has learned in midwifery school, reaches in and removes the retained placenta, gently massages the uterus. The bleeding stops.
This is the first life this young midwife has saved, and with confidence and resolve she is ready to save even more lives.
Shahrbanoo graduated as a midwife from the Bamyan midwifery school six months ago. Jhpiego has led the reestablishment of midwifery education in Afghanistan since 2002.
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