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“The first time I delivered a baby I felt so nervous. I thought can I or can’t I really do this?” says 18-year old Nafiza Abdallah as she sits outside her home in the small fishing village of Ofud in Blue Nile State.
“But then I thought about my community and how I wanted to make it better, so I just went ahead and did it.”
This brave young woman has been delivering babies ever since she has completed a midwife training provided by the Recovery and Rehabilitation Programme (RRP); a community-based initiative funded by the European Commission and managed by the UNDP.
“I have delivered more than 12 babies since then,” she says proudly, “at first with the help of others and now on my own”.
Nafisa is one of the 73 women who recently completed an 18-month long midwife training programme in Damazine. The course, organized and funded by the RRP, provided theoretical and practical training for women, bringing the total number of registered midwives in Blue Nile State to 364.
“Before the course started I didn’t have much to do. I spent most of my time learning to read, farming and harvesting. When I heard about the midwife training programme being offered by the consortium I decided to go because I wanted to help my friends and relatives with their pregnancies,” says Nafiza.
“I learned that I can time exactly when the baby will be born; and if they are going to have twins I will know. I can hear two heartbeats instead of one,” she added.
The course focused on other issues besides delivering babies. The women received literacy training, learned about proper nutrition and attended awareness sessions on issues such as tribal scarring and female genital mutilation. They can now act as advocates against these harmful practices when they return to their respective villages.
This was the ninth midwife training programme offered in Damazine. The consortium expects to facilitate more in the future. Nafiza encourages other women in Blue Nile to attend the course even if they feel apprehensive.
“At first it didn’t really have a lot of meaning, I just felt scared, but after a while I saw how happy the mothers are; and feel grateful that I am able to save not only one life, but two.”
Funded by the European Commission and managed by UNDP on behalf of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, the RRP is the largest recovery initiative across Sudan. The initiative is implemented through 44 national and international NGOs who strive to use community driven approaches that focus on sustainable development rather than relief.