My name is Hannah and I have very itchy feet.
Not because of any tropical disease (yet) but because I can’t stay in one place for any length of time. These itchy feet of mine told me to give up my comfortable life, steady income, and brilliant job in Sheffield and take my midwifery skills on the road. And I listened.
But why? Well, back in November 2016 I’d been a qualified midwife for 3 years. Out of curiosity I took myself on an obstetric emergencies course at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, mostly to build my confidence and learn some skills in more depth. Those three days overturned everything I thought I knew about midwifery. Every midwife has an idea of the maternal mortality rate in their own country, and of the perpetually depressing global statistics. What we are not taught as undergraduates is the enormous impact of providing good quality, basic care even in the most difficult of settings.
Honestly, it’s sometimes hard to swallow that women’s health is so important and yet so underestimated, underfunded and underappreciated. I learned how simple it can be to train midwives in basic obstetric care, to keep women safe even with limited money and resources. Even one women whose life and health are preserved makes such an impact on a family, a community and a country.
In May 2017 I took the Diploma in Tropical Nursing course in Liverpool, which is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a lecture theatre. Highly, highly recommend. I decided to take a break from the NHS and get all the experience I’d need for a career in humanitarian work, so in June I set off to Burkina Faso for six months of volunteering with International Service. That’s the point at which this blog began, mostly to reassure my colleagues that I was still alive.
Fast forward to July 2018 and I have a job with Médecins Sans Frontières. My first mission is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo… Wish me luck!