Sunday, 1 January 2012

The end of my adventure................Or is it???????

Well dear blogging buddies I am composing this message from a sunny but freezing Holmfirth having arrived home from my adventures last Saturday but before I wax lyrical about that let me bring you right up to date with my last few weeks in Cambodia.
November was a very busy month work wise I completed 9 policy documents for the Council 5 of which are for internal use and 4 comprised information for midwives, employers, witnesses at hearings and the general public relating to making a complaint about a midwife and dealing with disciplinary issues.
The Provincial Councils are well on with registering all midwives and they raised some very interesting issues at the AGM in relation to some of the difficulties they were encountering which got me and the executive team thinking about how we could best help them.
This resulted in some draft guidance on entitlement to register with the Council which will be considered at the next meeting which hopefully will help.
Because of Cambodia's unique history its issues are just not so  simple to resolve and although CMC  can learn from other Councils it does have to find its own way of dealing with many complexities.
I also completed a template for a midwives handbook building on work done by a previous consultant and it is now ready and waiting for Ministry approval so with luck it should be ready for distribution by April next year.
Feedback from our donors meeting has been very positive and I managed to collar one or two of them at the Nursing and Midwifery conference and they agreed to stay in touch with the Council and find a long term solution to their resource problems
I have already reported on the AGM which was a big success so I guess the other big event was the National Nursing and Midwifery conference
The Council's president madam Ing Rada gave a very confident presentation about the role of regulation in saving the lives of women and their newborn it was most impressive and great to see her be so bold  when talking about the need for midwives to work to standards including a code of ethics she also offered her telephone number to the audience so that they can talk to her about regulation and answer any queries.
In addition there were many other inspiring presentations from midwives and nurses from all over Cambodia several of whom acknowledged support from VSO and I have to say were amongst the best and it made me very proud indeed to be part of that organisation.
Angela my pal in Stung Treng supported two of her midwives as they presented on new guidelines they have developed on assessment for normal birth after Cesarean Section it was excellent given where she started from.
My last day at the Valuing Life clinic was also very sad, moving but also joyful in equal measure I presented each of the students with a nurses watch so that they no longer get a crick in the neck whilst counting the foetal heart rates they were very trendy pink ones totally infection control compliant too!!
It was sad to say goodbye to the women and their babies
Just before I left the clinic staff joined me for lunch and each of them had made a card, letter or small gift starting with each letter of my name by the end the tears were flowing and I was just a mess
As if that were not enough CMC and CMA (would you believe) hosted a party for me and Sarith my translator and great friend at a super Cambodian restaurant on the banks of the river with stunning views. It was a very happy joyous occasion with many bringing their children and grandchildren once again I was presented with flowers my first since being in Cambodia and gifts that I will treasure for ever
My other colleagues and friends 36 of us met up at the Khmer Surin a favourite restaurant  to say a fond farewell it was so fortunate that my departure coincided with VSO's annual sector workshops which meant that many old friends were in town so that was fantastic particularly to meet up with my ICT group.

My colleagues and friends from CMC

I don't really have the words to sum up my time in Cambodia it was the most exciting, interesting and fun year and a bit of my life so far.
The opportunity to live in a different country and culture was such a privilege I went there with the intention of sharing my skills but I can tell you this dear bloggers I learned far more from this country and its people than I was able to give.
To a great extent this blog has been only a superficial glimpse into my time in Cambodia emphasising the positive  rather than focusing on the negative working in development is complex and difficult the hardest part for me I think has been trying to reconcile the government's apathy to the poor and vulnerable and its dependency on external assistance from NGO's who often as far as I could tell in the health sector at any rate do not use their collective power to influence and challenge the endemic corruption which affects the country at every level.Including access to basic health care and education and which would change things for ordinary people including the very poor who still represent over 35% of the population the better
The human rights which we in the UK take so much for granted are truly compromised in Cambodia and essential workers like teachers and health workers are grossly undervalued and abused.
The young are desperate for change but in a culture where ability to do a job is secondary to how well connected you makes breaking through the  re enforced concrete ceiling the biggest of challenges and will  disenfranchise the young and I dare say will be the country's undoing eventually
I have met some amazingly bright young people especiallyy young men and women like these in the   photographs below young aspiring nurses and midwives and managers sadly they are not being nurtured by their own government the future is in their hands and I for one applaud them.
There may be an oppotunity for me to return to Cambodia to contunue supporting the Council in its work VSO recognises that it still requires technical assistance to become a robust regulatory body for the midwives of Cambodia and the funding is currently being sought
Whether I do or don't one thing is for sure the time I spent there and the wonderful people I have met will stay in my heart forever.    

My last day at clinic with Toinette the midwife and wonderful students

My great colleague Pros who supports CMC

My right hand Sarith who was both my translator and friend

Over  500 delegates at the nursing and midwifery conference

Angela midwife advisor in Stung Treng presenting with her midwife colleagues

'Independence Monument Phnom Penh behind is the Prime Minister's residence

One of the great land marks of Phnom Penh is the Independence Monument

If you have been inspired by my work and other adventures in Cambodia and consider that you may have skills that you want to share with the developing world then please consider VSO International find out more by clicking on the link below

I would not have been able to undertake this work so successfully and have such a great adventure without the help and support of many colleagues, friends and family too numerous to mention individually but include the following
Vocal Expressions Ladies Choir who both fund raised to buy equipment for the Valuing Life Clinic and sent out over 12 boxes of baby and toddler clothes
Old colleagues and friends at the Y&H Startegic Health Authority who sourced and supplied cut price equpment for the clinic
Staff , friends and colleagues at the University of Huddersfield who raised funds to buy midwifery text books which were distributed to hospitals in 4 different parts of Cambodia.
Faithful friends and family who corresponded regularly and kept me going through the hard and challenging times you know who you are
My wonderful ICT group
Anna, Tim, Vanessa, Erin, Richard and Sopheap in Phnom Penh
Denise and Vicky for sending out all the size 12-14 clothes and sweets
Chris with whom I had some very memorable experiences not least in the back of a pick up truck!! and finally my husband David and daughter Sally whose love and support I could not have done without

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A Singapore Fling!

The Singapore skyline from a great height
This building needs no introduction
Well dear blogger on the 29th of October it was King Norodom Sihanuock's 90th birthday and hence another 5 day public holiday in Cambodia so me and a couple of pals Chris and Jan decided to go explore another Asian country Singapore I had heard a lot about this country in particular how developed, clean and orderly it was and I have to say from that perspective it did not disappoint
But for me it was somewhat of a personal pilgrimage in a way as this was the place my father was captured during the war when Singapore fell to the Japanese  
We flew into the airport quite late at night but were efficiently processed and within an hour had been swiftly transported to our hotel no repetition of our Viet nam psychopathic taxi driver experience thank fully just swift efficient service and even in the dark the sky line looked impressive we passed Singapore's equivalent of the London Eye situated at the mouth of the harbour very impressive.
We stayed in "Little India" and it is just what it says on the can at a delightfully restored small colonial style hotel in the midst of bustling streets filled  every kind of Indian merchandise my favourites were the spices herbs fruit and exotic vegetables we spent a few hours I can tell you exploring its nooks and crannies and the food here was fantastic as both my travelling companions are vegetarians we found a couple of great restaurants only yards away from our hotel and sampled the local delights.
A corner of a Mosque in Little India
No visit to Singapore could be complete without a visit to Raffles so we spent a very pleasant evening there sipping on a Singapore sling [only one as they cost the equivalent of a small house!]

The 3 towers building the cross part is home to the highest swimming pool in the world

During the day we explored the city by open top bus with its mix of old and new buildings and did some shopping well even volunteers need new knickers!!
We also used the underground system very swift effecient and clean as you would expect Chris got told off for finishing a chocolate bar as no eating and drinking allowed on the trains how embarrassing!!!
We went on the Singapore flyer thats what the big wheel is called there the views were incredible and shared our pod with a group of Australian scouts then we visited the Botanical gardens which has the worlds largest collection of orchids they were unbelievable I could have stayed there all day below are some pictures of the Botanical Gardens and the orchids but they do not do justice to the sheer beauty of them
The entrance of the Orchid garden


We also had a great evening at the night safari which was a bit like Disney in the dark but nevertheless it was a privilege to see the animals including lions, tigers, elephants a beautiful Rhino and my favourites the flying squirrels most if not all have been rescued we were taken around in an electrically driven tram and asked to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb the animals who were just going about their business

The highlight though for me was our visit to Changhi prison and museum which told the story of Singapore in WWII as I have mentioned it was a very emotional visit to be in the same place as my father when he was captured and to learn more about the horrors  of internment but also thankful that he survived as so many hundreds of thousands of people did not.

He was a prisoner of the Japanese for four years and was soon moved out of Singapore but we as a family no little of his story after that as he was so reluctant to talk about it one day though I hope his story will be told he was a wonderful man

Changi prison's reconstructed chapel where you can light a candle and leave a message about loved ones who passed through in 1942

A map of Singapore in 1942 in bronze set on the wall of the prison museum
As good as Singapore appeared on the surface with its social housing its affluence, broad well tended boulevards, good roads with all the traffic going in the same direction and in an orderly manner there were aspects of the society I found disturbing like the very and I mean very elderly people clearing tables in the big shopping malls who had to use their trolleys as walking aids  and our taxi driver who explained that people have to continue working because there are no state pensions and health care is so expensive as is the cost of living. He had retired but drove a taxi because their family's life savings were used up on saving the life of his granddaughter who was born 2 months premature.
So the impressive skyline and order comes at a high price and you know somehow it was kind of nice to touch down at PP airport where we were met by Rotan our Tuk Tuk driver who trundled us back to town through absolute chaos dust, rubbish plus the heat and humidity but it felt like home.
Lea Howie

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Saddest Journey to Siem Reap

Apologies dear blogger for the lack of updates over recent weeks as predicted I am in a race against time to complete all I agreed to do for the Council before I leave in early December before I bring you up to date with my progress I just want to share with you the plight of some in Cambodia who have fallen victim to the excessive flooding here and who do not appear to be getting much help at all
Last week it was yet another public holiday for the water festival where normally the wonderful boat races are held on the Tonle Sap river which runs through the centre of Phnom Penh well they got cancelled by the Prime Minister understandably because of the flooding and the money saved was to be diverted to bring relief to those most affected and although clearly not as bad as in Thailand there are still thousands of families badly affected.
I witnessed a little of this on the road to Siem Reap where travelling through some provinces notably Kandal and Kampong Thom there were still many temporary shelters lining the road with cattle taking refuge in whatever dry land they could manage to find. These stoical people doing their best to carry on normal life.
Many schools and health centres seemed badly affected too even though the water was clearly subsiding the play grounds were a sea of mud but still the children were going to school and in their pristine white shirts and blue skirts/trousers amazing
Many of the houses now have tiny long and very precarious bridges on stilts running from their homes to the road how they balance across these I do  not know but they do
Water as far as the eye can see these should be lush green rice paddies!
The week before last was an important for the Council as it held its second annual general meeting and was attended by the newly formed provincial and regional Council members.
The AGM was held in Kampong Cham where I did my language training so it was very nostalgic to go back there it is the third largest town in Cambodia and situated on the Mekong river which was very high.
The event was well attended and the provincial council members gave an update on their progress in registering all midwives working in Cambodia over 2,000 now and growing The star Council member and province was Preah Vihear also one of the most remote has registered all 99 midwives working there she was an inspiration and was able to give other members good advice on how to develop good relationships with health departments and encourage midwives to register.
I ran a session which was an introduction to investigating complaints I needed to do a lot of preparation using real life case studies and  role play as dealing with complaints and disciplinary issues will be a key role for the 5 Regional Midwives Councils
I have to say it went very well and the President was very pleased there was great engagemnt and participation and the midwives showed a lot of insight into this aspect of the Council's function.
35 Council midwife members gather for the second AGM for CMC

Council members get to grips with the case studies
      In addition to the work for the AGM I have now finished drafting complaints and disciplinary protocols and procedures they are being translated into Kmai and then will be considered and amended by the national executive team there are 9 in all another big piece of work but I have had help via the net from a range of international regulatory bodies and also some legal advice from a fellow volunteer which was invaluable.
Work on a midwives handbook is also nearly complete and is just awaiting ministerial approval for the Council's standards which are an essential component.
On the last evening of the AGM the president took several of us out for a 5 course meal it was wonderful see below
Just to let you see that I am earning my keep here!

From left to right Sochea, me and Ing rada (CMC president)
    My final task is to complete a Council training manual comprising 4 modules (2 to go) thanks to Kerry Mari and Kuldip for your help and advice with this so the pressure is now on I have 13 working days to go.
The valuing life clinic continues its valuable work it was a quiet clinic last week as many of the women would have returned to their provinces for the public holiday.
However we did see some sick babies one very sick who was only two days old and could not have been examined properly before he was discharged from the health centre as he had a pulsating mass in his chest was not feeding was blue and cold so he was taken to the free hospital for sick children with all due speed but I fear that his chances are pretty poor.
Little Jinnie is doing well despite her disabilities and her mum is now being helped to set up her own rug making business.
The wonderful students there are an inspiration and I really admire them they were all looking forward to the holiday and excited to be going home
Jinnie and her mum
On Saturday I delivered the last consignment of baby clothes my wonderful choir Vocal Expressions has been constant  in sending out baby and toddler clothes for the clinic supported by child care students from Wakefield college and I can assure every one that the staff, mums and babies are so appreciative.

Next time I will report on my trip to Singapore
Lee Howie!!!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Pchum Ben again and on my travels!

You may recall dear blogger that last year around this time I was in Kampong Cham for the Buddhist festival of Pchum Ben it was about five weeks into my stay in Cambodia and I was struggling (and still am) to get to grips with the Khmer language that said my translator Sarith paid me a great compliment just before we broke up for the holiday by telling me that although I don't have a great vocabulary when I do speak Khmer "it is very clear" believe me from him that is quite a compliment as he is something of a perfectionist.
As ever I digress Pchum Ben is a family time when every one goes back to their homeland (province) to celebrate and make offerings in the pagodas to their ancestors so Phnom Penh empties out quite remarkably making it much safer to cross the road but every where is shut and a little dull so Chris and I decided to explore our neighbouring country Vietnam.
This turned out to be a very wise choice on several counts one being the severe flooding in the lower regions of Cambodia making travel even more dangerous than usual Cambodia is no stranger to flooding but this rainy season has been very bad with many homes animals and rice crops destroyed over 100 people have been killed in the flooding and thousands made homeless not to mention the food shortages which will inevitably happen in the longer term as far as I can ascertain non of this has made the international news.
Below are some photo's pinched from Gilly and Sam's blog of the flooding in Kratie [thanks both]

The tops of palm trees in Kratie
going by boat to the Pagoda taking rice and other food offerings
   The other count was that Vietnam was such an interesting and beautiful place to visit and I am ashamed to say not one that was top of my 'must see' list probably as I am old enough to remember the 'spot of bother' there in the 70's
Hanoi was our first port of call and we touched down at the airport after dark unfortunately and despite the warnings in lonely planet about airport taxi scams we ran headlong into one!! we were unfortunate enough to encounter a psychopathic taxi driver who within 5 minutes tried to extort money from us however he had not bargained on the resourcefulness and fortitude of two older British women who refused to be intimidated it was not a great start to our visit but fortunately all's well as the saying goes. 
The following day we were picked up at our hotel by a cruise company Calypso Cruises (very Vietnamese) to take us to Ha Long Bay for a 2 day one night cruise around the bay which incidentally is a nominee for the 7 natural wonders of the world competition [it gets my vote] We were told that the company had upgraded us to a 4* junk Oh yes we thought here we go again but they really had and it exceeded all our expectations and made up for our earlier and somewhat unpleasant first encounter of Vietnam
Ha Long Bay or Descending Dragon Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Quang Ninh Province of Vietnam it is comprised of 1,960 islets and we loved the place so much we extended our stay on the junk to 2 nights 3 days on the spot and spent our days touring the bay stopping off to explore some of the limestone caves with their amazing stalactites and stalagmites, kayaking in some of the smaller coves and swimming in the cool clear emerald seas.
I saw the most wonderful sunset whilst swimming though of course this could not be captured on camera but it will stay with me for ever what a lucky woman I am.
The service and food on board was first class [especially sea food as you would expect ]and I must have gained several of those kilo's I have lost since leaving the UK there was a cookery demonstration on how to make fried spring rolls so I will be trying those out when I get back now I know how to stop them unravelling.
Chris and I tried our hand at fishing for squid but with no luck but it was fun trying.
The weather was warm and sunny less humid than PP we were so lucky as on our return to Hanoi we never saw the sun again!
For more info on Ha Long Bay  go to
We spent 3 nights and 2 days in Hanoi at a nice inexpensive hotel right in the heart of the old quarter great location although a bit noisy the staff were ultra friendly and helpful giving us some recommendations for restaurants which were great and inexpensive
As it rained non stop we had to find indoor activities this was not hard and included a visit  to the Museum of Fine Arts The House of Literature Vietnam's oldest University, The Water Puppet Theatre and a renovated merchants house all were very interesting Oh and we managed a bit of shopping too well one can have too much culture!!!!
Barring another brief encounter with an aggressive young man in a coffee shop [who could have been the brother of our airport taxi driver] we had a very good stay in Vietnam the traffic though made Phnom Penh's seem benign it mainly went in the same direction just very fast and aggressive a bit like the men really!!
Lea Howie
I climbed to the top of this island phew!
Ha Long Bay picture gallery
One of the limestone caves

Our fab junk at Ha Long Bay

Map of Ha Long Bay one of the beautiful islets

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

One Year On

Well old blogging buddies its very hard to believe but I have now been in Cambodia for a year and it seems like only yesterday that I said my tearful goodbyes to David and Sally at the airport and so much has happened to me since.
I have managed to negotiate a short extension to my placement although VSO Cambodia thought I was there for two years any way so that was not difficult the Council wants me to stay another year and in many ways I would love to as they do need help to really develop into a more confident and fully functioning organisation but sadly I must return home by Christmas but VSO has agreed to consider another volunteer for them next year which may actually work by then as I hope by that time they will have got the ministerial approval for the standards that have been developed by the Council for essential competencies and a code of ethics for midwives without these its hard to see how the Council will be able to move forward in the future.
A donor proposal is now ready to be presented to some major international donors by the President on the 14th October my colleague Pros and I are helping her and the other midwives on the exec committee to build their confidence so that they can put their case with conviction and passion.
securing resources to accelerate their progress is vital
In addition I am helping them to write some basic policies and guidelines for dealing with complaints and disciplinary issues
Our new hemacue HB analyser in use at clinic
We had a Council meeting last week and someone always brings lovely food the time before we had banana fritters this time we had 'cadow K'ti' which are sweet rice dumplings and coconut milk wonderful! how I have lost 15 kilo's I do not know by the way did I say I have lost 15 kilo's and am now a size 12!.......................
On the clinic front all the new equipment donated and or purchased is now being put to good use last week the staff were very distressed as one of our women sold her baby for $50 to a complete stranger in another part of Cambodia fortunately the woman returned the baby as she found it to be sick so the NGO has placed the baby in a place of  safety with Cambodian foster parents whilst they support the mother in making a decision about the baby's future. Child and baby trafficking is rife here and who knows what could have happened to that baby had it not been returned it makes me shudder to think but these are the realities and the outcomes of severe poverty. Baby Jinnie is doing as well as she can she has quite severe problems including blindness probably although her mum thinks that she can see a little and my money is on her as she is devoted to that baby.
Lea Howie
Next time what makes me smile and cry in Cambodia...............................

This is my most loved photograph taken in Mondulkiri Cambodia I was sitting on a log not 10 feet away from this beautiful creature

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Cambodia the Country of Wonders

The waterfall at Kbal Spean
Hello again dear blogging buddies " Cambodia the country of wonders" is a common slogan used here to promote the up and coming tourist industry it has come alive for me on many occasions over the past year as recorded in previous blogs but my latest travels to Cambodia's spiritual and cultural  heart really did reveal "wonders" on the grandest of scales
Siem Reap is described in the guide books as 'a charming town with its many colonial style buildings tree lined streets and winding river' it is now growing and thriving on the increasing numbers of tourists on their way to see the Temples of Angkor.
When the French explorers rediscovered Angkor Watt it was not much more than a village
The wonderful Banteay Srei temple

The main Temples of Angkor are about 6 kms from the town centre. Chris and I stayed at our favourite hotel Terrace Des Elephants the friendliest and quirkiest hotel I have ever stayed in it was my third stay there and now I would not consider staying any where else including the legendary Raffles and many other 5* hotels springing up in Siem Reap
On our first day we got up at 4 am (yes I know I am mad) for a 5 am departure by tuck tuck to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat this was an act of faith in itself as its the rainy season so no guarantees that we would see the sun at all and it was looking doubtful as we passed through the dark tree lined streets through a light drizzle. We were joined by several other hundreds of mad people but the complex is so vast that we felt as if we were there alone and dame fortune did smile upon us as day break approached the clouds cleared and we did indeed see the sun rise over Angkor Wat .
The history of Angkor Wat starts around the 9th century Khmer religious beliefs, art and architecture all stemmed from India who introduced both Hinduism and Buddhism to the country which had a profound effect on the culture.The indigenous Khmer's though did not entirely abandon their beliefs in their heroes/guardian spirits good spirits and evil spirits who roam the land bringing sickness and death.
'Spirit houses' are in evidence outside most homes and buildings to this day complete with offerings.
We had a great guide who took us all over the temple complex including Angkor Thom entering along the impressive causeway through the south gate -Bayon where I saw the carving of a woman giving birth which is the emblem of CMC -then on to the Terrace of the Leper King  -Elephant Terrace - Bayon - Ta Prohm where the trees and temple ruins have become as one then back to Angkor Wat
The following day was even better we travelled about 30kms in our tuck tuck through small villages past vivid green paddy fields and other crops its so interesting traveling in Cambodia especially by tuck tuck as you get the chance to see how people live their homes how they cook and spend their time as just every thing goes on outside.
As we neared the Kulen mountains the heavens opened up and the rain just poured but undeterred we donned our rain capes and set off on a 1050 m climb/walk over rocks and tree roots crossing precarious bridges and other obstacles to reach our destination of Kbal Spean.
Our goal being the 9 th century river bed carvings along a tributary of the Stung Kbal Spean which eventually finds its way into the Tonle sap river. These ancient carvings are just above a very attractive waterfall which for those brave enough to try it was accessible me and my pal took the view that we were wet enough as it was so declined the offer of our guide to sample the healing waters
We were however bowled over by the sight of these ancient stone carvings which included many lingus arranged in rows images of gods and animals as clear as the day they were carved.
The most impressive for me though was the 4 faced god of Brahma on a lotus North of the natural bridge.
A stunning place well worth the climb.
After a very good lunch our guide took us to my all time favourite temple Banteay Srei ( means woman's fortress ) It was so intricate made from sandstone and being beautifully restored I just loved this place it had much more of a spiritual feel to it than some of the larger temples 
Two young monks entering Angkor Wat temple

Angkor Wat one of the 4 basins of the cruciform cloister
Almost at the top of Kbal spean

Not the sun rise and a pity about the scaffolding but this is me in front of Angkor Wat temple

Reclining Vishnu in the stream just N of natural bridge ( note sun just come out )

Monday, 22 August 2011

Making History and other tales from Cambodia

Some of the Phnom Penh Provincial Council midwives being sworn in at the Council's official opening of its 22nd provincial office
Well dear blogger there is much to do here in Cambodia and not enough time to do it as reported in my last missive  my work at the Council is going well I have just completed an outline proposal for them in order to secure more resources to accelerate their progress towards achieving the regulation of Midwives in Cambodia. This is hugely important as the evidence shows that in countries where there are robust systems in place for regulating the profession then maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity rates improve.
There is not a week goes by now that there is not a horror story in the newspapers here of women dyeing for the want of skilled/ birth attendance and increasingly the public are going to the press with their concerns (note not the authorities!) about the behaviour or competence of midwives which on the one hand is terrible but on the other it is good  for pushing forward the case for registration and regulation.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Provincial Council for Phnom Penh so far the Council has opened 22 offices one in every province where all midwives will be expected to register it was held in PP's Municipal referral hospital I was told about it 10 minutes before it was due to start but as it was only around the corner from the office I got there on time.
Cambodians certainly know how to put on an occasion the hospital director was there ( a very stylish lady) and her deputy plus 45 invited guests from the district ie hospitals and health centres.
The event kicked off with the national anthem and then introductions I was asked to stand and got a round of applause!! my only regret was that as I didn't know in advance I didn't look particularly smart and would have liked to have taken the opportunity to wear my new sampot ( Cambodian Skirt) after introductions Ing Rada read out the Royal Decree which set up the Council and outlined its role and function after which the nominated midwives for the provincial Council were sworn in. Below are pictures of the event.
In the centre is Ms Ing Rada President of CMC on her right the hospital Director a Dr and on her left the deputy Director also a Dr.

  The Council has two further provincial offices to open and one regional office but has not the budget in this financial year so further delays CMC's progress in achieving full registration of all midwives even further so it seems more important than ever that our proposal to international donors is successful we are planning to meet with them in the near future.
These fantastic midwives had no idea that they were making history by pioneering regulation of midwives for Cambodia it was great to be a part of it
All efforts now are going into preparing the Councils executive team in presenting their case at the donor meeting  I want the international donors to see how committed these midwives are and that given more resources they will make a big difference although this will not be easy as money is tight.
Wish us luck!!!!
I have been busy on other work fronts too the informal health and related professionals network meetings are going well and gaining new members all the time we are now at 31 and I can see people making connections and we friendships are blossoming which is so important here we have had some very interesting  presentations and discussions so I hope that it will continue when I leave.
Also just written an article for Health Messenger which is a health magazine aimed at nurses and midwives at health centre level so a wide readership. It is unique in Cambodia and is produced in English and Khmer.
My article was about the attributes of a good midwife which of course included the clinical skills and competencies required but  also I tried to emphasise the personal/behavioural qualities including care, compassion and advocacy vital  components in my view and much in need of here.
I used as a case study one of the student midwives I have met at the valuing life clinic here in PP Theary is a second year student at University and is just the sort of role model for the future midwife Cambodia needs she is kind listens to the women understands their problems and talks to them as equals she gives me hope in the future
Talking of the clinic there was great excitement last Saturday as I took more of the equipment sent over from my old pals at the SHA and clinical skills network and pride of place was the haemacue (haemoglobin measurement machine) purchased using donations raised by my wonderful Vocal Expressions Ladies Choir of Holmfirth it was fantastic we tested every woman attending the ANC as it is so long since we have been able to rest their Hb every one had some degree of anaemia which is endemic in poor communities but can be a killer for pregnant women after delivery as even moderate bleeding with a depleted Hb can be disastrous.
One young woman had an Hb of 8.7g (normal 12-14g ) at 32 weeks she really needs urgent treatment so as you can see already the haemacue has been worth its weight in gold
Testing for anaemia

The wonderful haemacue
Lea Howie!!!
PS ALL photographs published by kind permission of the subjects