Shanti Spotlight: Florence, a leader of action

sister lule (1 of 1) (1)When at Shanti, you’re always able to see women wearing a smile while hard at work. One woman in particular that spreads joy and knowledge around Shanti is Florence. She is a highly respected leader at the Birth House and within the community as Florence goes the extra mile as a midwife. For 4 years, she has been a valuable member of Shanti’s team and on a sunny Thursday, I had the opportunity to have a chat with her.

Do you have any children/grandchildren?

Florence explained that she has 5 children, who no longer live with her as well 10 grandchildren. Her young granddaughter, Florence (named after her grandmother) can often be seen playing at Shanti.

How far do you live from Shanti?

If I am working hard while walking, it can take 45 minutes. If I am walking slow, 1 hour.

What is your role at Shanti? What are your responsibilities?

Florence is a midwife at Shanti, however, her responsibilities are not limited to this role. While having our discussion, she was taking a break from midwifery by picking beans from Shanti’s garden and peeling them for the staff’s lunch. It is not uncommon to find Florence helping out in more ways than midwifery.

When did you decide you wanted to become a midwife?

Florence had originally wanted to work for the government as a public health worker (which she pursued for many years in her life). In order to achieve this goal, she received midwife training as well and enjoyed what she learned. It was not until after retirement, that she became a midwife and joined Shanti’s team.

Why did you choose this career path?

I have always been interested in children”, Florence explained. She laughed about how not only would she get to help children, but she would not have to work overnight shifts through this career as well.

What are the challenges of being a midwife?

Florence is often faced with clients who are reluctant to do as they are advised. She provided an example, in which women are sometimes referred to other health care systems. Even though this is suggested to them, they may not go, or if so, it is often too late. Despite this, Florence explained that Shanti’s staff continues to do all they can to respect women’s choices and to help them in their time of need.

Have you always worked at Shanti?

After earning her Midwifery Degree in 1970, and in 1975 as a Public Health Nurse, Florence worked in many sub-district health centres and hospitals in the Luwero District. She organized health education workshops in homes, schools and clinics.

After her various careers, Florence retired, however, she still felt strong and capable of helping more Ugandans. It is because of this that she decided to later join Shanti’s team.

Why is Shanti’s care different than other facilities?

Florence explained that throughout her many career locations, she has never seen one like Shanti’s. She explained proudly that not only is Shanti’s Birth House much cleaner than other facilities, but it also focuses on women centered care. Florence described this care, as one that values a woman’s individual needs and expectations. She boasted about this approach that differs from other facilities which focus on the needs of the occupation or the facility.

What is one highlight of your career?

During her time working as Public Health Nurse for the Luwero District, Florence was given a certificate for being the head performer in the District. Glad to be recognized for her hard work, she said,

I was happy because I didn’t know that anyone was watching the work I was doing.

Her efforts and smiles continue to be noticed at Shanti. It is with the help of incredible women like Florence, that our maternal health program is able to succeed. We are so glad that in Uganda, where there is a need for qualified midwives, Florence is able to apply her knowledge and experience in order to provide the best possible care for mothers and babies.

Read more about our wonderful team who’s hard work is what makes our impact continue to grow.

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