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Heading to Tanzania

This semester I have the privilege to do my clinical hours in a public hospital in Tanzania. What a fabulous way to end this part of my journey!

Knowing that I have not yet been in the country for two weeks, you might be wondering what I’m thinking.  Knowing that I actually do have classes three days a week, and that a trip to Tanzania will take at least two weeks, you might have decided I’m crazy.  I admit, it is possible I have made a terrible decision. It is also possible this will be the most fabulous opportunity I have had yet.

At present I have managed births in a birth center, a public hospital and a private hospital in the United States. I know I am interested in working with HIV+ women and I know I want to continue to build midwifery in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Having a few births in a public hospital in Tanzania might just be the piece on my resume that opens the door to amazing opportunities – a clinical trip to complement the teaching trips I have done.  I know I am ready for the differences in culture and practice, because I just spent six weeks in Honduras learning to work in a poor, public health system.

Some of you are wondering, “How do I do this?!?”  I am working through an organization call Life Reach, a division of Youth With a Mission (YWAM).  It is a Christian service organization, and this trip is what is known as a mission trip.  It is a little different from most mission trips because the organizers have created a system where midwife students will be safe to practice under experienced preceptors.  Why would they do all that work?  Because their goal is to train midwives who are capable of functioning in poor countries with the hope that they will continue to do so.

Because of the nature of this program, I think attendance is limited to Christians.  However, for those readers who are not Christian or who are but prefer not to travel on a mission team, there are other short term student midwife service-learning opportunities listed in the Natural Childbirth Directory.

For those who think the Life Reach Program might be a good fit, you can find information about future trips here: Life Reach International.

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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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