A Night in the Life

Daisy WinnerBlog, Featured, Nursing, Uganda

Pride and Purpose Fuel Ugandan Midwife Mary Elizabeth Nawil

84 patients, 17 babies delivered, 4 C-sections, 3 still births, 2 post-partum hemorrhages. All in a night’s work at Lira Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda for Mary Elizabeth Nawil, a midwife with a diploma and four years of experience who was studying for her bachelor’s degree in midwifery with help from GHSP Nurse Educator Mary Horgan.

Nurse Educator Mary Horgan (left) and Ugandan Midwife Mary Elizabeth Nawil (right) at Lira University College

Nurse Educator Mary Horgan (left) and Ugandan Midwife Mary Elizabeth Nawil (right) at Lira University College

“It was so busy, so hectic,” Nawil recalls. “And the nurse I was working with is junior to me, so I had to be responsible, to make sure everything is being done well. I was there on my toes from the minute I walked into the ward until 8 o’clock the next morning.”

Between taking classes during the day and caring for dozens of women and babies all night, Nawil acknowledges, “You get the fatigue. It is not easy.”

But she is determined to complete her training in midwifery – a field that she believes is essential for the future of a country that suffers from high maternal mortality rates and a shortage of skilled birth attendants. And then she wants to continue delivering babies, caring for mothers and infants, and sharing her knowledge with other midwives and students.

“The future of Uganda is going to progress and improve with midwifery,” Nawil says. “We are a small class of 34. 34 different skilled people taking knowledge into the community, how many would they influence? And then the next lot is about 80 and the one after that is about 150. As they go down to the grassroots, they will really help reduce all this maternal mortality and morbidity.”

As they do it, they will also be able to experience the enormous pride and satisfaction that motivate Nawil and serve as an antidote for her fatigue.

“The most important thing is the pride of seeing a mother putting a smile on her face and a crying beautiful baby beside her,” she says. “You feel so great about it. Yeah, you feel so great.”

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