I’m just a doula. I’m not a witch doctor or miracle worker. But for the past six weeks life as I know it came to a standstill at the Midwives Obstetrics Unit that I am a volunteer at in Hillbrow.
It started on Friday when our supplies came… Late as usual but by this time I don’t expect it to be on time anymore. As they unpacked we realized that we did not get maternity pads or linen savers. The sister on duty explained that it might be late, or it will be arriving shortly. We went on with our usual at the MOU, some of us in the first stage labour room assisting moms in labour and I went on my merry little way to post-natal. I wanted to check up on my mom who delivered an hour earlier.
I went home, not in the least worried about the supplies that did not arrive. Until the following week Friday. Still no linen savers. Still no pads. This time no cord clamps.
Now any person with some knowledge of a maternity unit would know that you can’t run a facility without the basics. Linen savers, pads, examination gloves and cord clamps are essentials. It is not luxuries at all.
I managed to get a box of cord clamps from my lecturer a while back. She said that I should keep it for an emergency. I never gave it much thought as we always seem to have those in stock. But those little blue clamps helped us through two very long weeks. And then we ran out again.
Week after week no linen savers. Sometimes we get pads. Sometimes not. No examination gloves anymore. Just surgical gloves.
A week later we ran out of ARV’s. On Sunday, as it was quiet, a fellow doula and I decided to stock and pack the examination and the transfer room for the midwives as they hardly get time for any of that. And that was the day we realized we are out of antibiotics, ARV’s and pretty much everything.
I went there again today to drop off a donation from a friend of mine in Switzerland. 35 packs of linen savers. The head of the maternity unit was literally in tears… Because (in her own words) “I did not think people cared anymore”
How in this day and age is it possible for a government to give up on the mothers of a nation like this?
But what I am thankful for today:
1. Being able to take 35 packs of linen savers to Hillbrow.
2. Assisting on 5 deliveries in literally 1.5 hours.
3. Putting a smile on patients and the midwives faces.
4. Being able to help.