A Midwife’s African Adventure continued…..

Well, following safe arrival at FreMo birth centre, Kawangware, Nairobi…..there were some other safe arrivals, and then more and more ;-)) I certainly hit the ground running and have had neither the time or the wifi to update the blog as often as I had hoped.

FreMo have welcomed me with open arms, their gentle approach to woman-centred care, physiological birth and above all compassion to all is heartwarming. The births I have been lucky enough to be part of have all been with FreMo’s vision in mind!!

Thought to be the only birth centre in Kenya (if others exist please correct me) the popularity of FreMo is very clear to see as the number of women choosing to birth here, receive antenatal care here and continue with babies/childrens vaccination programme and family planning are rising fast.

Here I find myself in a slum, amongst a community of incredibly poor people, living hand to mouth, surviving really….but they are happy, they go about their arduous chores daily with a smile, a song, a cheery hello or… Jambo (how are you?). As I visit their homes (a single room, makeshift from concrete and corrugated iron)-they are well kept, clean, organised, their hospitality puts some of us to shame!!!

However, despite this contentment, the vast majority of these strong, african women are not aware of their human rights and in a culture that places their husband/partner in absolute control of all affairs, FreMo is helping to empower them from positive interactions antenatally, positive birth experiences, and information giving postnatally and beyond.

Here I am simply setting the scene and will write more of this trip as time goes on!!!

Officially my 1st blog 😜

Hello, I’m Sally a community midwife, I had no idea when I joined the RCM as a student midwife that it would lead to today. I was chosen as flag bearer for the United Kingdom at ICM2014!! Instructions were to meet at the congress centre reception at 0930. Excitedly we all gathered (around 80 representatives), my heart went out to Malcolm as he faced the challenge of placing so many vocal, exuberant midwives from around the globe into alphabetical order. Malcolm advised us if we were very good it would take an hour, if not it could be nearer 2 hours!!! I guess we were worse than expected as the rehearsal had a few teething problems and exceeded the 2 hours. Waiting patiently to take up my place it was easy to be distracted by all the wonderful costumes, greetings and stories as most of us were meeting each other for the first time. (These distractions were not helping the flow of the rehearsal).
Eventually we were all sat in alphabetical order of the countries we were representing. My neighbouring country throughout the morning was the lovely Noreen, representing United Arab Emirates. As we chatted we had one of those small world moments, Noreen had completed her midwifery training at Kings Mill Hospital- where I work!!
After much to-ing and fro-ing we had the practice run and all went well, we had a couple of hours to spare before the opening ceremony. This time was spent tentatively with some planning for the programme, exchange of business cards and for myself, fingers crossed I wouldn’t trip ;))
As over 3,800 midwives took to their seats in the congress hall we stood nervously by our flags, waiting for our country to be called. Looking around I saw amazing outfits, national dress, bespoke garments with positive midwifery messages. This made me realise there isn’t a costume/theme which represents the UK- is there?? As I was called to the stage I had underestimated how proud I would feel as I held the Union Jack high!! The national flag is so symbolic and here I was representing the UK but much more, Sherwood Forest hospitals, university of Nottingham, Royal College of Midwives, midwifery friends and colleagues, women and their families. Flag bearer at the opening ceremony was THE MOST fabulous experience, professionally meeting midwives from all over the world was so enriching and humbling at the same time. Thank you RCM for putting my name forward.

Sent from my iPhone

A Midwife’s Adventure

by Sally Goodwin, Community Midwife

1920096_755137071224269_7507835167850059383_nI am a community midwife based in the north of England and will be visiting a birth centre in a Kenyan slum at the end of February.

The FreMo Medical and Birth Centre (founded in June 2011) is situated in the Kawangware slum in Nairobi. It is an informal settlement where the majority of residents live on less than $1 per day, in makeshift shanties without access to public health services, piped water or sewage systems.

Due to poverty, overcrowding, crime and unemployment, living conditions are extremely poor. HIV/AIDS, TB, water-borne diseases and malaria are commonplace, and maternal and neonatal mortality high.

In 2009 two young men, brothers Moffat (the administrator) and Fred (the doctor), began with a dream, minimal resources and the financial backing of friends, family and their own savings.

They opened a small medical clinic in the heart of the slum to serve the impoverished community. With the assistance of Australian midwife Vicki Chan’s passion and commitment in the creation of a safe place for women to seek maternity care, FreMo Birth Centre was formed.

Through social media and as a Royal College of Midwives (RCM) learning representative, I have been able to raise the profile of FreMo and fundraise over the last three years.

At the end of February I will be travelling to FreMo to meet the wonderful team, some of the local women who I have been able to support and to offer some teaching sessions, although I’m sure I will learn much more from them than they will from me.

I would love to be able to take useful supplies with me from the UK. I have a huge luggage allowance, and will happily take anything with that that might benefit the staff and women at the Birth Centre.

If you would like to donate some items, please send me an email.

Alternatively, please like/share the Facebook page, where you can find out how to donate via PayPal.

Here is FreMo’s vision, please help me to raise awareness and funds to enable this vision to be achieved…

‘We envisage a world where each woman
is nurtured, heard, and valued and has
the information, resources, confidence,
and support she requires to achieve the best possible pregnancy, birth,
and mothering experience.
In such a world, her baby would be born
with a fair and equal chance at life and love’