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Stories From The Field - Project Coordinator, Kristen Porter

By Kristen Porter


I'll admit the last few weeks have been pretty emotional for me, as I prepare to hand over my position, and I can't help but swell up with tears at the beautiful home that this place has become in less than a year of operation. Our centre is called Shanti Maternity and Learning Centre and learning centre it is! I love to stand back and watch/listen to the exciting energy that has taken over this place.

In our prenatal education room I'm listening as Canadian midwifery students teach our midwives about hemorrhage management and shoulder distocia. Our midwives teach the canadian volunteers about the local tradition of how to soak the perineum properly in herbs. Why and when to use it and when using it for too long can be dangerous. In a few minutes our midwives will teach prenatal yoga and baby massage. I listen as they discuss and debate the use of different practices and medications.

Outside I can hear our grounds staff teaching other volunteers Luganda, teaching them about the local crops and how to harvest and dry them. Our volunteers get dirty and teach the staff how to turn and use the compost for fertilizer. 

I watch as women come into the centre for their prenatal check-ups and read (or have someone read to them) the unmissable quote that was painted on the wall last week:

Ekyama Kyetulina mu buwangwa bwadde kiri nti okuzaaia tekuluma wabuula abakyala bamaanyi 

(In English: There's a secret in our culture and it's not that birth is painful it's that women are strong! - Laura Stavoe)

A message that most of the women here have never heard before! Immediately a smile comes across their face and a light is lit in their eyes. Webale (thank you) she says.  I listen as they learn from our midwives and their confidence in themselves and the wisdom of their bodies is returned or lit for the very first time.

I know that after I leave this will all continue and as Florence our cleaning person says "it makes me feel calm in my heart" actually it makes me feel excited and overjoyed in my heart. The knowledge that will pass through this centre is not only life saving it's life enhancing for women and families all over the globe, the true meaning of a world class centre!


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