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This resulted in some draft guidance on entitlement to register with the Council which will be considered at the next meeting which hopefully will help.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

1 comment:

  1. Well done Kath! Hopefully we'll see you back here to continue to tackle some of the problems you succinctly identify. See you soon, Sam.