Q: Liberia, with a woman president, is leading the charge for changing how Africans look at gender roles. Now you, a husband and father of three, are training to become a midwife. As a man, what interested you in becoming a midwife – a traditionally female role?
A: I have a personal experience that stays with me. In 1989 I was 12 years old and my mother went through a tough time in childbirth. There was no midwife to help her. So I promised then, one of these days I hope I will become a midwife so I can help women giving birth.
Then I became an ambulance driver for the Ministry of Health in River Gee, bringing obstetric patients to the Martha Tubman Memorial Hospital in Zwedru, located in the neighboring county of Grand Gedeh. There’s a great need for obstetric care, for there aren’t many trained health staff or midwives in Liberia’s South Eastern Region.
Q: You have some medical training, how did you get to where you are now?
A: After I graduated from senior high school in Monrovia in 2008, I have not been able to finance further education. I had my ambulance training to take care of emergency patients and I was trained by a Merlin trainer. Now, it is a privilege to come to school – it has made my dream come true, my desire to become a midwife.
Being an ambulance driver is one thing, but I can be more helpful as a midwife. It’s all part of the process to assist people; giving help to the people of River Gee.
As a midwife, I can reduce the demand of having to bring patients to the hospital all the time, cutting down on the drive from River Gee to Grand Gedeh, which can take up to three hours.
Q: How have people reacted to you, as a man, training to become a midwife?
A: People think it’s strange, but I try to inform them about what I am doing so they can begin to understand. I explain that I am not looking at women for that reason, but purely for health reasons. My profession is about delivering babies – obstetric care – dealing with ectopic pregnancies. It’s also about spreading health education and the importance of women of childbearing age visiting clinics and hospitals for information on what to do in pregnancy.
Q: What problems are Liberia’s mothers facing when giving birth?
A: Distances to health facilities. It is difficult to get a car to transport women experiencing problems and there is only the one ambulance per county – if that! Also, the fact that people have no health education is a major problem. My wife had safe deliveries because she visited a midwife in a clinic for each of our children. Midwives are important because they save lives – of mothers and children.