This blog post was contributed by Faatimaa Ahmadi, one of the sixteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.
September 28, 2010
“Welcome Faatimaa! This is our office and our workplace! I am sure that we can learn many things from each other.”
That is my mentor’s voice in my ear. Ashoka Fellow Rita Sembuya tries to speak word by word to introduce Joyce Fertility Support Centre to me. “It started as a patient support organization for childless couples at 2001 and from 2007 it also concentrated on supporting women through education.”
I am thinking to myself, how is it possible to work in a place made of just a balcony and an old garage, (although I cannot ignore its wonderful garden)! Oh my God!! Where am I!! I am surprised and trying to hide it. I remember the advice of my professor, Golnar Mehran, when she said goodbye to me. She said, “Wash your eyes and look in another way; in this way you will learn many things from Uganda.”
Now it has been one month since coming to Uganda and starting work at the Joyce Fertility Support Centre. I see how this very small office with rare facilities is capable of doing big jobs and I am happy to be here.
When I arrived my big problem was not being fluent in English, such a disturbing problem it is! Joyce group helped me to improve my language and to be familiar with the environment I am in, to know the context more and more. I know that if we are going to educate women according to our project there is need to connect the educational content to their context.
During this time we had many meetings in this office to make clear what are we going to do. I recognized that Rita is perfect at brainstorming. She is doing this job so great that after finishing the meeting I feel pain in all of my neurons!!
There are many similarities between my mentor’s philosophy in education and mine. Sometimes I ask myself how it is possible for two people studying different majors and living in two different continents, far from each other and have never met but have many similarities. I applaud all the decision makers for this match.
During these days I have been able to see how the knowledge I learned during my masters course turns to practice, such a sweet time it is! Rita paved the way for me to visit some organizations and evaluate their work according to how they educate women in maternal health field. These visits helped me to improve my evaluation skills and to see with my eyes how the traditional model of education is dominant in maternal health field unfortunately. That model is one in which people must focus on convincing others to adopt a desired behavior, and provide information, repetition of messages or imitation of behavior (http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/67/1/59.full).
I wish to bring change in the way of education in maternal health during this project.