by Trina Chase, Africa Program Manager
With bright eyes and a giggle, Rosamond Atenga recounts that when she was 9 years old, she told her stepmom that she wanted to wear a white cap like her. Her stepmom wore the white cap as a mid-wife in Pader, Uganda, and she responded to young Rosamond by saying, “Well then, you must be ready to deal with mothers and children.” And Rosamond resolutely said, “Yes, mom, I will.”
Today, 25 years later, Rosamond is an accomplished midwife serving with Medical Teams International (MTI) in Pader. She currently supports six clinics in Pader, as well as serving with MTI’s outreach to communities who have no working health clinics. At the clinics and outreach campaigns, Rosamond looks after expectant mothers, delivers babies and trains women on how to have a normal, vaginal birth— without sickness or complications. She helps women know how to eat a balanced diet of what they can afford and shows them how to be creative to get their protein, by eating eggs and legumes. She vehemently encourages them to attend Ante-natal Care clinics as soon as possible and to report to their local midwives if they are feeling sick.
Her favorite part of being a midwife is the children: “I love bringing them out of the mother and being there for them when they are in need.” She also loves the relationships she builds with the mothers she sees. She says, “They do not forget me,” and recounts how she is often greeted on the street by women she does not recognize, but who thank her again for the work she did in delivering their baby.
Rosamond’s love and care for mothers and children is effusive. With expectant mother Theresa (pictured), Rosamond took time to talk about the young mother’s concerns about a gnawing pain in her lower abdomen. After examining her, Rosamond reassured her that she was on track for a normal delivery (within six hours!), prayed for her and rubbed her back when Theresa’s body racked in labor pains.
Rosamond reports that her greatest challenge in being a midwife is the distance on the rough roads of Pader between health clinics. With miles between the health centers and between the communities, many women give birth at home or along the way, even as they are walking to a health facility. She says it is incredible frustrating and heart-breaking when distance keeps the mother from arriving at a health center or keeps Rosamond from getting to a mother in time. In those instances, it is often too late.
Rosamond plans to be a midwife for the rest of her life. She hopes to someday study further so that she can perform "Ceasarean sections", something that women in Pader must now travel 27 km to receive. She also plans for her two young daughters, now four and two years old, to enter the medical field. She laughs saying that Maureen, her oldest, will become a doctor and Katya will be a midwife.
Rosamond says that “everywhere in Pader, they are crying for MTI because we bring comprehensive services in hard-to-reach areas.” With a proud smile, it is easy to see that Rosamond is proud to work with MTI and to serve the women and children in her community.
Rosamond is also featured in our March newsletter,
along with Dennis, Frenel and other updates from the field!