Finding the essence of one’s existence is always an issue to people who has a boring and melancholic life. And after passing two nerve racking licensure examinations, I found myself in this agony.
I thought that working in one of the hospitals in my province will help me realize that the path I chose is correct, but I was totally wrong. This gives me only short term satisfaction. The I pursued my second passion which is teaching in university. It gives me fulfillment. I joined also several medical missions in between my teaching engagements to areas in the country affected by natural disasters for me to help our brothers and sisters who are in need the most.
I also cherish every time we conduct trainings to midwifery faculty members and midwife practitioners around the country. Meeting new friends and enjoying the memories together. But the pinnacle of my ardor and gratification reached its peak. With unresolved issues within me, I thought again what is really the essence of my existence. With no clear plans even no new career, I resigned in my job hoping that one position out there is reserved for me.
Few weeks after submission of my resignation, I received an email stating that I was being considered as a Midwife Supervisor in an organization not known to me and realized that I applied in Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, as a field worker ages ago. After several interviews, I was accepted to this international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare.
Crazy!!! This was the word I got from relatives and friends when they found out that I accepted an offer going to Gogrial, South Sudan for 6 months. They asked me, “Why on Earth in South Sudan? You will be killed there” or they will say, “Are you out of your mind? You want to serve others but not your country men?” I will just laugh them and tell them that if I will not go then who would go? Serving humanity is serving my countrymen as well. Besides, I already gave a decade of my life and continuously extending my arms to my country.
With only determination to help, courage to face challenges in the field; I flew to South Sudan without second thoughts. As a idwife Supervisor, I was assigned to oversee 18 national staffs (certified midwives and midwife assistants); care clinic which has a maximum 375 consultation a day and maternity clinic with 12 postnatal beds , 6 beds that were used for high risk clients, 5 labour beds, and 2 delivery beds. Moreover, I see to it that that sexual and reproductive health activities like sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), family planning, and the maternity waiting house, the home for mothers in the last month of pregnancy who opted to stay within the hospital compound because there village is very far. I was also the one responsible for the inventory of drugs and supplies and does the pharmacy order bimonthly.
With the high demand of time and energy on every project, not to mention the on calls every night for complicated deliveries with postpartum hemorrhage, severe pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, ante partum hemorrhage amongst other, I was enjoying my work and didn’t feel any exhaustion. This has been possible with team work amongst us international staff of different nationalities and the local staff. Managing also abortions for complicated pregnancy and doing Manual Vacuum Aspirations (MVA) for incomplete and missed abortions is one of my responsibilities. I managed to deliver vacuum deliveries and breech as well as doing internal and external version to deliver babies with malpresentations.
The bulk of the work during the day is to do ward rounds and admissions. Admitting them in the ward and prescribing medications and also assessing patients during rounds and decide if the patient will be discharged or not then giving the home medications. Midwife practitioner in a sense.
I took me 8319 miles away from home to realize how lucky I am but taking things back home for granted. In South Sudan they don’t have highways and paved roads are only in the capital. In the regions outside of Juba, during rainy season, car stuck in the mud for hours is a common occurrence. Majority of the patients even walk for 6 to 10 hours just to come in the MSF clinic for free consultations and treatment, while I complain about traffic in Metro Manila. I keep on complaining on eating same kind of food back home but people in South Sudan don’t have variety to choose from; we even eat cassava leaves with peanut butter (which is also exported) for the duration of my mission. I don’t have new shoes, new clothes, new gadgets but these are all luxuries for the locals who even have to rely on an organisation for free quality healthcare. We, Filipinos, complain of long queue during treatment in the public hospitals but according to World Health Organization data, South Sudan faces severe shortages of trained health workers: only 1 physician per 65,574 population , 47.6 nurses and midwives per 39,088 population.
How many of us will undertake this endeavor? 1, 2 or even more, but for as long as you are happy on what you are doing and you’re giving your 100% then I’m very proud to each and every one of you. It’s so happened that I chose going off the beaten path. I’m a PROUD PINOY MIDWIFE… Accoucheur of the World…