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Flexibility

For those of you who think you might want to get into international work, remember to be flexible.  Case in point, I had a conference call with the leader of the organization I am volunteering with in Honduras today.  There is a slight change of plans in the work she wants me to do – nothing drastic but a change.  Seems she has forgotten about the bonding part and is hoping I can teach neonatal resuscitation in the hospitals and to all the midwife groups in every area.  Hmmm…I don’t think I communicated right about what the program was.

But I am flexible and the equipment with the program is not necessary for neonatal resuscitation.  I can teach the assessment skills and positive pressure ventilation that is basically mouth to mouth resuscitation.  Hosptials will already have the equipment, so it will just be a matter of teaching the assessment and proper use of the equipment.

Did I mention that I’m struggling with my Spanish?  I am practicing every day, but don’t have time for the amount of work I want to put into it.  So I have this terrible fear that I’ll be useless because no one will understand me.

Then there is the small problem that we still don’t know where I will be staying or what the costs associated with that will be.

Crazy, right?  This is all pretty normal.  I’m somewhat used to it by now.  If it makes you at all uneasy, you might want to rethink working in developing countries.

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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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