Emory Nursing Maternal and Neonatal Health in Ethiopia Partnership

If they don’t come we should go there

My name is Abeba Hagazi Abera. I am 23 years old and have a diploma in clinical nursing. It has now been ten months since I started working at Lekura health post of Aura Woreda. I have always wanted to practice all that I have learned. But the culture and religion of the area where I am currently working in is completely different than where I was brought up. But the promise I made does not differentiate people based on religion or ethnicity.

At first the community was not interested to come to the health post to get services. So I decided to go house to house and pay them visits. I give advice to the people in general and treat those who are sick. After a while they started to see me as a sister and open up to me. I also dine with them.

The first delivery I attended was when I was called from the health post to the home of a pregnant woman. When I reached there and wanted to examine the progress of her labour, the family members were not very cooperative. The trained tradition birth attendant (TTBA) had to persuade the family.

As I continued my treatment I realized that she was circumcised, sewn up and left with a tiny hole for urine (female genital mutilation /FGM. As a result I was not able to conduct pelvic exam. I even had to seek the assistance of the trained TBA in opening up of the sewn vulva. I made sure that the mekita (locally used knife) was sterilized before allowing its use. I also gave hand gloves to the TTBA who served as my assistant. Once the baby was delivered I examined the new mother for any bleeding. I also made sure that the baby is given colostrum and that the family did not apply any foreign material on to the umbilical cord.

After seeing that the mother and child are doing well the community has accepted me as their own. If possible they come to the health post to deliver. If not I go to their home and ensure that the baby is delivered in a clean environment and with the assistance of a skilled attendant.

Compiled by Etsub N. Zerayohannes - Behavior Change Communication Specialist Emory University/ MaNHEP Afar project