One thing we were not counting on when we originally planned the trip was the tremendous jump in oil prices. The truth is, as gas prices continued to increase here in the United States it still did not occur to me that prices may be similarly increasing in the Congo. So, you can imagine my surprise when the final costs were nearly doubled what had been estimated last summer. I even had people suggest the price was artificially inflated to line the pockets of those coordinating the trip. I was somewhat revealed and somewhat heartbroken to learn that indeed, the high cost of oil andRead More →

Although Tammy and I both have experience at birth, neither of us is actually a midwife. This means neither of us have done a vaginal exam, caught the baby or assessed the fetal heart tones. Something that needed to be changed before we traveled to teach these skills. A midwife in Tammy’s community has graciously offered to give Tammy some basic midwifery training by allowing her to assist at some prenatal appointments and during a few labors. The midwife felt this was important, because a vaginal exam feels very different when the cervix is dilating. Though we will be teaching the avoidance of vaginal examsRead More →

The information is being submitted for the final Ministry of Health approval. The total cost of the training (not including our travel or the materials we will be bringing) is $8,690. With 30 Midwives being trained, this equates to about $300 per midwife. This is higher than we had anticipated, but involves some required items from the Ministry of Health. The cost covers their travel, accommodations, food and a printed training manual. It also covers three delegates from the Ministry of Health to be present for observation and for translation services (since we do not speak French or Swahili).Read More →

While Tammy and I gather supplies, raise money and determine the content of the training, Flory Zozo is working in DR Congo to ensure the success of the project. In his latest email, he sent me the following list of projects he is working on for the training: Meet the provincial minister of Health to finalize and give him dates of the training Get the minister’s approval to make the provincial health logo to our certificate Design the certificates and put the 4 logos on them Go and meet UNICEF organization to convince them to be part of the training and see if they canRead More →

One of the challenges we will face is helping the women prevent unwanted pregnancy. It may seem easy from the perspective of the developed world, but remember that access to any method of birth control for women in rural areas of Central Africa will be limited. Although we will talk about the methods available, the only tool we can leave them with that any woman could use is fertility awareness. The photo on your left is of three different sets of beads that all do the same thing-let a woman keep track of her fertile days so she knows when she is likely to becomeRead More →

It is one thing to stand in front of a group of people and lecture, it is another to teach them skills they will need to use. We are going to teach skills. As such, we need some tools to help demonstrate the concepts we are talking about. But with little to no money, how do we do that? The Book for Midwives has patterns for low cost teaching materials, and yesterday I spent some time creating the cloth uterus and vagina teaching model. The uterus comes out of the vagina for further demonstration. The look a little goofy, I know, but they are betterRead More →

Planning a birth skills training in a developing country has many challenges. One of those is determining which tools we should take. Midwives who work in developed countries have such a wide variety of tools available to them, but we will be limited by how much money we can spend on tools, and how many we can carry in our bags. Another factor we need to consider is the longevity of the tool. Will they be able to use it for multiple births, and will they be able to replace it when it breaks or goes missing? This is such a foreign concept to AmericansRead More →

I was excited to be taking a nutrition course this summer, since so much of the help the Skilled Birth Attendants will be able to give is in improving the health through nutrition and lifestyle. So far there hasn’t been much I didn’t know already. Yesterday and today the class focused on vitamins and minerals which particularly interested me – how do they ensure they are getting the right mixes of foods in areas where food is not easily accessible. I am particularly interested in iron, since anemia is such a large problem and contributes to the maternal death rate. I bring this up becauseRead More →