I have spent the past two weeks in Kakata, a rural area of Margibi County in Liberia. The change of pace is refreshing and the overall atmosphere is much more relaxed. While there, I visited numerous facilities and attended community meetings. Driving through the county to the different sites is breathtaking. The area is filled with small villages and farms, rubber plantations and vast areas of untouched land.
My last day in Kakata proved to be the most rewarding thus far. I assisted with a clinical outreach and awareness campaign being held in the village of Worhn. When we arrived, the community center was filled with hundreds of patients, many of whom had walked for hours to reach the site. While patients waited to receive care they made construction paper hats featuring health messages and listened to radio campaigns while children danced to the latest hits being played.
We took advantage of the gathering, to have a meeting with trained traditional midwives (TTMs) from the Gibi district. Despite having travelled many hours to reach the meeting and then having to wait due to our late arrival, the women were welcoming and excited to meet me. I was greeted with traditional songs and dances and hugs and handshakes to welcome me to the district. During the meeting, I explained, how maternal waiting homes were being utilized in other countries and some of the best practices. Then the floor was turned over to the women. It was great to see the ownership and pride which they took in their jobs and to hear the roles they would be willing to take to make the project successful.
It was especially great to meet Ma Teneh, one of the TTMs and a source of inspiration for this project. Before the county health team embarked on the maternal waiting home project, she had been hosting and caring for pregnant women in her home until they were ready to deliver. She and the other women will continue to play a crucial role in the project as it moves forward.