Learning Curve

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It’s been busy around here, and I’ve been learning as much as I can as fast I can. “Ko kapoi!” as midwives have been known to say around here in Bisaya/Visayan. I’m tired. But I’m also glad about what I am learning.

What am I learning? Thanks for asking! 😉 I’m learning to communicate basic thoughts, feelings and questions and answers in a new language, Visayan. I’m learning the value of the Filipino peso in the local economy. I’m learning about others around me as I get to know my team at the birth center, which consists of dozens and dozens of people: intern midwives, first year students, second year students, supervising midwives, both Filipina and international, the staff clerks and guards, and, of course, many mothers, fathers and babies as well as other family members they come for birth, baby checks, and prenatal and postpartum appointments.

I’m also practicing my skills as a midwife.

The birth center itself is different from any other place where I’ve served as a midwife before. I’ve primarily worked as a midwife in home birth settings in America and in a rural birth center in Acholiland in northern Uganda. (I’ve also gained a good range of experience in American hospitals and a few birth centers as a doula.) The difference between a birth center in the city in a developing nation and a birth center in a rural area is pretty substantial.

Here, in Davao City, we’re busy! There are a lot more people, in a lot smaller radius, so more babies are being born, and we need more staff to help serve them. With more births, there are more prenatal and postpartum appointments. Getting to know families personally when there are so many to serve is more challenging.

In the urban context, there’s better, faster transportation, but it’s also noisier and more polluted. Many more conveniences abound: easy internet access, foreign (American) foods, running water, electricity (including electric fans to cool us off in the humidity), and so on. Yet this is still a profoundly impoverished area where access to the convenience of wealth is unavailable to many. The health status of the mothers who come to birth at the center is often poor.

I find myself missing the great open spaces of Uganda, wild and beautiful, because I’ve never really been a city girl. But I know that God has brought me here, and everyday, I see something beautiful – usually, someone! 🙂

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