Sarah Johnson spoke to Muntada Aid ahead of her first trip to Sierra Leone. Here she talks about volunteering and its impact on wider society.
Tell us about yourself
I have been a midwife for just over 4 years. Just over three years of that I have been working at Doncaster as a clinical midwife. Before that, I worked at Nottingham, which is where I trained.
I have been interested in volunteering abroad even before I started doing my midwifery training. I also had a taste of international midwifery when I spent three months in Malta.
It is just really exciting to be a part of something that helps improve healthcare and ultimately saves lives.
What is your view on such missions?
I know that the charity itself benefit society hugely by sending midwives out there. There is quite a lack of education in a lot of places, a lack of knowledge. Simple skills ... neonatal resuscitation, carrying labour, which seems like such basic things, but actually can be life-saving and we really take them for granted over here. Charities like African mothers, ultimately save lives.
What Drives You?
There is so much inequality in the world. Life can quite unfair, but it is about trying to restore that bit of that balance...trying to help people who through no fault of their own were being born into a situation where they can't afford basic healthcare that we would take for granted.
There are places where it is the norm for women to die during childbirth, babies to die, so, when you are so lucky and you live a country where you get free healthcare and it's the exception rather than the rule that women die in childbirth these days. When you learn that these things are happing elsewhere, it really shows as human beings we need to help other people. When you think such simple things, such basic things like helping with healthcare, training and things that seem very basic to us can actually make the difference between life and death...that family might not lose their mother, those parents may not lose another baby; it should be a quite straight forward thing that why we should be helping other people and backing these charities. It just shows how essential their work is.
"...It should be a quite straight forward thing that why we should be helping other people and backing these charities. It just shows how essential their work is."
About the project
Muntada Aid in partnership with Life for African Mothers is committed to supporting the local communities and the Government of Sierra Leone to train and empower the maternal health practitioner in 8 districts ( Portloko, Moyamba, Bombali, Kenema, Bonth, Tonkkolili, Kono and Kambia) and also provide mothers with vital medicines.
We are providing a comprehensive in-service training programme for a minimum of 100 midwives in Sierra Leone. This will help in creating a workforce with the capacity and capabilities to deal with the increasing demand in healthcare services of its population.
In Sierra Leone key challenges for maternal and neonatal health include lack of continuous training for midwives and birth attendants, limited access to medicines and poor understanding within the community about the support available in childbirth.
The longterm aim of the project is building maternal healthcare training and capacity across Sierra Leone.
In 2020, we are aiming to provide cost-free 400000 tablets of Misoprostol, essential to treat postpartum bleeding in childbirth to healthcare facilities in the eight districts and midwifery training to 100 professionals.