Former GreenLamp-sponsored student is first female midwife to head up Ethiopian health centre

Belen Kakabo graduated from the Hamlin College of Midwives in 2015, having been the second student sponsored by GreenLamp. Five years on, Belen is now the head of a health centre in Teticha, a rural town in south-west Ethiopia.

Belen is a remarkable success story. To our knowledge, she is the first female midwife to be appointed head of a health centre in Ethiopia. Having accumulated five years of experience at the centre, Belen inspires her younger colleagues, and provides them with valuable guidance. Belen is a great example of how providing women with a high standard of midwifery education, leadership training and ongoing support, can provide a career path into leadership roles. She is still working as a midwife as well as managing a team with diverse skills, along with leading management decisions and issues, including representing her health centre during regional discussions.

Belen is supported at the centre by two government midwives and a fellow Hamlin College midwife. Together, they offer expert pre- and postnatal care for pregnant women and new mothers, including deliveries, vaccinations, check-ups, family planning, community outreach and prevention of harmful traditional practices, e.g. female genital mutilation (FGM). Beyond her technical expertise, Belen has a gentle and caring demeanour that is certainly reassuring for the women who visit her centre. Like many of her peers at the Hamlin College of Midwives, returning to work as a midwife for her local community reinforces an empathetic connection between Belen and her patients.

In the rural environment of Teticha, distances make it difficult for ambulances to reach expectant mothers in case of emergency. Tragically, there have been instances when mothers have died before an ambulance could arrive at the centre. That makes antenatal visits all the more important. Belen’s commitment to her community is affirmed by her outreach work. The centre has a motorbike supplied by Hamlin College to be used by the midwives. Belen and her colleagues have been able to access more women, thereby spreading awareness of the centre, educating young women on the importance of ante- and postnatal care, and identifying potentially life-threatening pregnancies.

It is clear that midwifery is truly a vocation for Belen (as can be seen in the video below). As a highly skilled and compassionate midwife, she contributes to making her community healthier and stronger, and is an outstanding role model for her peers.

Alexia Sverdrup, GreenLamp Guest Writer