Diary of a Volunteer Midwife

In November 2015 I travelled to Kenya with Friends of Buburi, a UK registered charity, to work as a volunteer in a small community clinic in the rural county of Busia, near the border with Uganda.

I always knew I had a passion for travel and working abroad and as a student midwife I had my elective placement, in Zambia, in the Salvation Army’s Chikankata Mission.

Since qualifying as a midwife in 2012, I again yearned to work abroad and use my skills in a developing country. However, I was keen to gain further knowledge and experience before committing to such a challenge.

LSHTD LogoIn 2015 I commenced my Diploma in Tropical Nursing (DTN) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. During the course, Noreen, a trustee of Friends of Buburi, presented a lecture about the work of the charity and how she delivered a breech baby, totally unaided, without any resources available if resuscitation was required! I was inspired! I ran down after the lecture and discussed how and when I could, if possible, come out with the charity and gain some experience. Noreen seemed delighted that I was a midwife and was very keen to sign me up to go as soon as possible after completion of my DTN course.

So on 5th November 2015, I found myself sitting in London Heathrow Costa with Sallie Buck and Jackie Hamer, trustees of Friends of Buburi, and Jackie’s daughter Katherine Hamer, who is an avid photographer and interested in the work of the clinic.

We flew from England to Nairobi aUntitlednd then on to Kisumu. This flight did not go smoothly as the plane was incredibly hot and I fainted twice and awoke on my back, white as a sheet with Sallie holding my legs in the air! The flight from Nairobi to Kisumu was a bit more straightforward and I managed to remain conscious for the entire flight.

On landing in Kisumu we took a taxi from the airport to the Duke of Breeze hotel in the city centre which was to be our base for the next few days. From here we stocked up on essential drugs and supplies for the clinic. We also visited the shores of Lake Victoria for some relaxation before setting out for the clinic.

House

We stayed in the grounds of the clinic no more than 50 metres from the clinic itself in a single storey house with no electricity or running water and a squat toilet.

We filtered water we collected from the bore hole or rain water collected from the roof into a huge collection tank next to the house – this often contained mealworms, so I was thankful for the filtration system. We ate dinner by candlelight and went to bed in the dark.
I had a little torch which I attached to my bra strap so my hands were free! There was a shower. Water was heated in a big pan with three large hot rocks underneath and then poured into a large water tank up a rickety ladder. The warm water then poured down a tiny tube and trickled out of the shower.

Clinic Sign

The clinic itself comprised an HIV testing room/ antenatal and delivery room, a laboratory, pharmacy, reception, dressing room and a consulting room.

 

Clinic with Patients

The clinic with patients waiting to be seen

 

Whilst I was there I sat in on consultations and saw a variety of patients with different aliments and conditions. The clinic ran smoothly and reasonably efficiently, considering the clinic often saw 90 patients a day. The commonest conditions were malaria and typhoid, with at least 3-4 diagnoses of each per day.

 

 

I delivered two healthy babies whilst I was there in the tiny delivery room which also doubled up as the HIV testing room when there were no labouring women present. The deliveries both went smoothly and syntocinon, a uterotonic drug, was given for the third stage of labour, which is common practice in the UK to assist in the delivery of the placenta and to reduce the risk of post-partum haemorrhage. Each mother left the clinic on the back of a motorbike, carrying their baby in their arms.

Alice with Baby

Me holding baby Lily, the second baby I delivered. Visited at home at 10 days old and doing well!

I found the experience a challenge but one that was very rewarding. I came away feeling very grateful for the facilities we have in the UK and vowed to not take them for granted. I also felt very privileged to be involved in such a close-knit community.

Alice Cox RM BSc DTN

Posted in Babies, Child health, community health workers, Education, Fundraising, Kenyan Nursing Team, Maternal health, Sallie Visits, UK team visit, Volunteers | Leave a comment

2015

2015 has been a very busy year, there have been many developments which will ensure the longevity of the clinic. There is now a Community Based Organisation that will in time be responsible for the management of the clinic. It … Continue reading

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New Maternity and HIV Testing Building

This new building is almost finished. Once it is completed the women around the clinic will be able to give birth in relative safety. In Western Kenya the majority of women still give birth in their homes which puts them … Continue reading

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Coletta

Coletta Coletta started working in the clinic as a volunteer right at the beginning. She had had a varied career working as police woman in Israel and also at Nangina Holy Family Mission Hospital as a Nurse Aid. This was … Continue reading

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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Alumni

Another successful presentation took place at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine when Trustee Jo Hanks paid a recent visit. We are always delighted to be invited by our Patron Dame Claire Bertschinger to talk to the students … Continue reading

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Trustees and volunteers visit clinic

Trustees Sallie Buck and Jackie Hamer are currently at the clinic in Buburi, accompanied by volunteers Katharine Hamer, daughter of Jackie, and Alice Cox, a midwife recently recruited from The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Diploma in Tropical … Continue reading

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Eds marathon

Ed completed his first marathon from Bristol to Bath in 3hrs 39 mins. He chose Buburi as his charity because he was so impressed that the money he has raised will be spent directly on supporting the work of the … Continue reading

Posted in Babies, Buburi Clinic Development, Child health, Fundraising, Maternal health, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Community Health Workers

The Community Health Workers at Buburi Community Clinic are a vital link with families living within the community. The Community Health Workers are dedicated to helping and supporting their communities. They often walk miles in the heat of the day … Continue reading

Posted in Child health, Clean Water, community health workers, Education, Jo visits, Kenyan Public Health, Malnutrition, Mosquito nets, poverty, Volunteers | Leave a comment

Giving a helping hand to those who need it

Buburi Community Clinic provide free health care through their Social Fund for the most vulnerable within the community. These beautiful little children are being given special support and provided with some lunch whilst at the clinic.

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Malaria is still a global threat

These two little children have high levels of Falciparum Malaria parasites in their blood and were at extremely high risk of dying or getting severe complications from this highly dangerous form of Malaria. Both these children are amongst the lucky ones … Continue reading

Posted in Buburi Clinic Development, Child health, Jo visits, Kenyan Public Health, Malaria, Mosquito nets, poverty | Leave a comment
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