July is graduation season for students at the Hamlin College of Midwives! As the 8th round of students prepare for their graduation ceremony tomorrow July 14, we speak to Meron and Firomi – two of Hamlin’s 2017 graduates. One year later, we catch up with them to find out what it is like to be a Hamlin midwife working in the field.
Meron and Firomi were both born and raised in Metu, a small town in the southwest of Ethiopia where they now work as midwives applying the skills and knowledge they learnt at the College to provide life-saving maternal health care.
Like all other Hamlin midwives, once Meron and Firomi had finished their studies, they were strategically placed to work in their local, rural community. Familiarity with the area ensures an understanding of local language and customs, hence midwives can be most effective in the community.
Timely access to quality maternal healthcare is the main preventative measure to avoid obstetric fistula injuries. Meron and Firomi’s skills are crucial in this rural setting – their work ensures many more women have the care they need and deserve.
Hamlin Midwife, Meron
Meron works in a newly identified Hamlin-supported rural government health centre, within which a Hamlin-supported midwifery clinic has been established. This clinic is in a very remote location, about 30kms across mountainous terrain from Metu’s city centre. The geographical isolation of the clinic has meant that previously, essential maternal healthcare has been very limited. In the one year that she has been there, Meron has made an enormous impact.
Despite the daily challenges Meron faces, she loves her job and feels passionate about serving the women of Ethiopia. Dr Catherine Hamlin is one of her greatest inspirations.
“Compared with Dr Catherine’s many challenges in those long years in establishing such life changing-place for women of my country, my challenge is very small and here I am exerting my utmost effort so that all delivering mothers in my community would be getting quality care,” Meron says.
Head of the clinic, midwife Kassima, says the proven skills of Hamlin midwives like Meron have built trust within the community; people are recognising the importance of maternal health care and more and more women are visiting the clinic during their pregnancies.
Hamlin Midwife, Firomi
Following Firomi’s graduation a year ago, she was deployed to a Hamlin-supported government health centre in Metu where she joined two senior Hamlin midwives who have been there for five years. Together, these Hamlin midwives are providing life-changing maternal healthcare for women in the Metu area.
During her time at the Hamlin College of Midwives as a student, Firomi delivered over 40 babies at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia‘s main hospital in Addis Ababa. This practical experience set her up well for her career in midwifery.
Firomi has discovered that providing life-saving healthcare in rural Ethiopia is no small feat. “The fact that I am Hamlin trained midwife, made me to easily adopt the work environment within a short time… here on the ground I must use the available resources as efficient as possible and learn working in limited resources,” she says.
Midwives: the difference between life and death
There are now 48 rural midwifery clinics staffed by Hamlin midwives just like Meron and Firomi.
The importance of these health professionals cannot be overemphasised: every day, more than 830 women around the world die as a result of complications from pregnancy and childbirth. If midwives were present during birth, up to 90 percent of these deaths could be prevented, according to the International Confederation of Midwives.
A midwife truly can be the difference between life and death.
Read more about Hamlin’s prevention program here.