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Working in Tanzania: Together to the Next Level

Part three of a small series: why working with FAME’s Tanzanian (medical) staff was an honour and helped my development as a midwife.

The beauty of working with Tanzanian staff is that most of them have come a long way and have made a lot of sacrifices to get the education they needed and to make it to the point where they are right now. At FAME, these talented people get plenty of chances to develop themselves further which is pretty essential for taking health care in the country to the next level. After all, you cannot expect people to practice a better medicine than the level of education in their country has prepared them for.

It is easy to arrive as a volunteer and start criticizing the way they are doing things without seeing the bigger picture. People can be giving their best and practice according to their best knowledge and within the limitations the local setting puts on them in terms of materials, medication and diagnostic instruments; you should always wonder if you yourself would be able to do any better if you were standing in their shoes. We often don’t know how privileged we are coming from a part of the world where we get so many chances.

For me, it was inspiring and an honor to work with the local staff. They got to know my personality and knew I would speak my mind firmly when disagreeing with something, but I think they also knew that above anything, I really loved to work with them and always tried to acknowledge their individual capacities.

Due to the high numbers of births, the Tanzanian midwives have a lot of experience, especially the older ones who have been practicing all their lives. I am grateful for their help in getting me back on track in doing pelvic examinations. As students, we only got limited opportunities to practice those, and after graduating as a midwife, I haven't worked in the labor room anymore because I started to train in prenatal sonography. I really enjoyed being back in the ward and doing what I love most: guiding labor.

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Want to know more about my journey to Tanzania and the Foundation for African Medicine? Check my travel diary.

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