Arriving in Mutomo: The First Weeks
Virginia Chapman is an international volunteer with CMMB. She is serving in Kenya, at the Mutomo Mission Hospital. In the piece below she reflects on her very first weeks in Mutomo.
Well, here I am.
I have finally arrived in Mutomo, Kenya. I decided that this would be a good time in my life to do a mission trip and I have been working for the past nine months to make it happen. I felt a lot of excitement and some anxiety as I prepared to leave my home and my family for six months. But finally, the day came. I landed in Nairobi first, and after a few days there, I made the long road trip to Our Lady of Lourdes Mission Hospital.
Coming from a small, rural town in New Hampshire, I have to say that I was overwhelmed. There were many more people around than I expected and the town of Mutomo can be pretty bustling. I settled into the house that would be my home away from home for the next six months and waited anxiously to get to work. The hospital is not like our hospitals at home. But this at least, I anticipated. There are minimal resources – even things that I took for granted back home like an abundance of clean laundry.
The one thing that I really didn’t anticipate was how I was initially perceived by the hospital staff. At first, they were unsure of just who I was and what my purpose was for being here. The staff take great pride in the work they put into caring for mothers and newborns. I spent the first week watching and observing how things were done. I asked questions about why some things were done. Reflecting back on this, I suppose I should not have been so surprise. After all, I am a stranger here.
There was so much that I wanted to see change and again, I was overwhelmed by just how much. The first two weeks were difficult. I was unaccustomed to the methods and rigorous prompting practiced by the nurses here during childbirth. But then, I remembered the advice I had been given before arriving – to observe without judgement or expectation, just to listen and learn.
Finally, after two weeks here, I got the chance to deliver my first baby at the hospital. I was assisted by nursing students who were able to observe the delivery. Today, as another mother was ready to deliver, a nurse turned to me and asked if I could show her my method. Together, we helped this mother bring her baby into the world with slow, controlled pushing, and without rigorous prompting. This mother was spared the usual episiotomy and instead had only a small tear. The nurse marveled at the delivery and we both laughed at how she was better at suturing than I was, due to all the episiotomies she had done.
I have left my family, home, pets, and friends for this journey. I will spend the next six months learning and teaching, and maybe making the world a little better. It’s taken a few weeks but, I can see that now.