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Ministry of Health and Pygmies

One of our tasks while in Bukavu is to meet with the Minister of Health to get final permission for the training. We actually met with him this morning – again, very interesting. It seems Dr. Florimond is a very important man in Congo, and knows many of the people in government. The Minister of Health even drove to Nayngezi to meet us yesterday – but unfortunately we were brought to Bukavu instead.

The Minister of Health is not feeling well today, so will not be in his office. So Dr. Florimond called him and we stopped by his home to meet with him. He was there watching television with his children and we met with him. Dr. Florimond translated for us. He thanked us, shook our hands and sent us off to his office to get what seems to be a cross between a work visa and permission to train medical personnel.

A personal meeting with the minister of health of a large country of 30 million people – that is the most powerful person I have ever met. He may not be the only high official we meet while here.

Though we were able to meet with the powerful, we may have lost our opportunity to meet with the weak. I have been told the Pygmy woman who agreed to come to the training is very afraid to be in a city for 8 days. They are working hard to encourage her to attend, but her fear may stop her. We are starting on Wednesday now, so if we all pray for courage for her she may still make it.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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