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Midwife in Afghanistan

"We feel the danger. But we have no choice, we have to keep on doing our job."

Rahela*, midwife in Afghanistan  

Since the beginning of the Terre des hommes project in 1996, Rahela has been accompanying Afghan women at home during pregnancy, childbirth and the first weeks of their baby's life. She tells us straightforwardly about her daily life as a midwife in a crisis-ridden Afghanistan.

What is a day's work like?

Every day, we first go to the government clinic to pick up the equipment we need for the day, such as blood pressure monitors, delivery equipment and disinfectants. Then we go to the patients' homes. Each day we make between 14 and 18 visits to pregnant women or women who have just given birth, to examine their condition and that of the baby. If necessary, we give them medication and share health advice. This support is free of charge for the families, it is an indispensable help that we offer them.

Rahela uses picture cards to discuss breastfeeding and care with her patients. 

How is the medical staff affected by the situation?

The change has been brutal for us! Before, going to work was easy. Now we are afraid that the Taliban will hurt us. We feel the danger. We have had to change the way we dress. But we have no choice, we have to keep doing our work. The situation has also changed in the hospitals. Many doctors have fled the country, there is a lack of staff, midwives, and medicines, while the number of patients is increasing. For the moment, the Taliban have announced that medical staff can continue to work. But the main problem is that salaries are no longer paid in public hospitals since they took power. 

How do you see the future?

The future is not clear. The situation is very worrying. I am afraid of what will happen with this change of government. I just hope that the situation improves and that we can continue to work without fear.

Is Covid-19 still a challenge?

People don't think about Covid-19 anymore since the events in August. But in our work, we continue to take the necessary measures and inform patients. The hygiene materials we distribute also help to prevent the transmission of the disease.

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

I have always loved my job. When I had just finished school, I went to a maternity ward. I saw a midwife washing a newborn baby in a sink. I was intrigued by this scene and that's what made me want to become a midwife myself. I told my father about it and he encouraged me to start studying.

In my day-to-day work, when patients pass us, they ask us to come to their homes. Mothers are very grateful to be visited at home. This is what encourages me to do my work every day.

*The name has been changed for security reasons.