Midwifery Care beyond Language Barriers

Midwife Kerry Dixon recently had the opportunity to volunteer at our birth house in Ugandan and cherished her time there. Kerry has been a midwife for over 20 years and has many qualifications including being a Certified Professional Midwife and Certified Nurse-Midwife. She also has the unique experience of practicing in 4 continents over the course of her career including in the US, Pakistan, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, and now most recently, Uganda.

Feeling disillusioned by the negativity in the world, and finding herself in a career transition, Kerry knew this would be the perfect time for her to give back, “Some people have discretionary income and share generously. Those of us without that ability must find other ways to give back to the world. I am someone who has midwifery and women’s health skills and knowledge to share.”

From her previous experiences working around the world she knew there was a knowledge gap when it came to modern midwifery practises.  New studies do not often reach people in remote places without access to computers or wifi, and when research is published in English, a second language for many; it makes it even more inaccessible. With experience in homebirth, birth centres and hospitals Kerry saw that she had a lot to offer by volunteering at Shanti. She was also inspired to volunteer at the birth house because of our foundation in the midwifery model of care which centres on the health and well-being of the mother.


Strong mama and newborn baby who were assisted by Kerry and our Ugandan staff during birth

While visiting Uganda in 2014 Kerry noticed how kind and friendly everyone was, and experienced that same warmth from our local midwives, “I loved working with the Ugandan midwives. I was welcomed and supported during my time with the team.”

Kerry worked with our local midwives to update them on the latest information on when best to prescribe medications to pregnant women. As well, she refreshed the team on the various labouring positions that mothers are encouraged to use at the birth house.

Kerry (center) with Shanti midwives and staff

Not only did she come to Uganda to share her knowledge, but to learn from our Ugandan midwives as well. “I learned more about malaria and how to compassionately tell a client she is HIV positive. Also, for the HIV negative women, how to reinforce the importance of maintaining negative status.” But the biggest lesson she found while volunteering at Shanti Uganda went beyond simple midwifery techniques, “I learned that compassionate and kind care transcends language. Loving and respectful touch when examining a pregnant belly can be felt physically and heart-to-heart. I was completely comfortable taking care of women despite language barriers.”

This is a lesson we all hope to learn here at Shanti, as compassionate care is at the heart of what we do. Kerry hopes to return to Ugandan in the future and in the meantime will continue volunteering with Shanti as part of our midwifery advisory board. We are grateful to have individuals like Kerry who share our vision and help re-inspire us in the work that we do. If you want to volunteer at our birth house in Uganda send an email to info@shantiuganda.org with your resume and fill out our volunteer application.

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