Written by Emma Young, Volunteer Midwife
Stepping off the plane in Entebbe, sweaty and not appropriately dressed for the heat having left a cold British winter, I am greeted by a smiling Hanne and Ben. I have absolutely no expectations for this trip and am happy to keep an open mind about everything I see and do here in Uganda. We first stop in Kampala, the capital city, to get some supplies and to have lunch before driving the two hours back to Kasana. Hanne falls on the western food we order like a woman who hasn’t eaten in two weeks. She tells me I’ll soon understand! Kampala itself is crazy busy. There are people everywhere and the traffic is unlike any city I’ve ever been in. It makes New York City look like a ghost town!
After 2 hours we arrive in Kasana which is rural, laid back and full of smiling children who want to high-five the ‘mzungu’. The next morning I am introduced to the staff at the birth house by Jane, one of the North American advisers, and I’m nervous. Will they like me? Will they find my midwifery practice strange? But after two weeks of training I have quickly learnt that the women here are a friendly peaceful lot and the staff will insist on sharing their lunch with you regardless of whether or not you have bought your own. Shanti’s ethos of mother- centred care seems to be unique here. Most government hospitals have neither the staff, resources nor the inclination to provide it and it hits me how fortunate we are in the developed world to have this as a norm. Fancy technology and equipment has no place here; going back to basics is going to be a test to my skills. As the sun sets, tonight is my first shift now that my training has ended and I can’t wait to see what challenges await me.