Teacher exchange strengthens ties and deepens learning

Many of you will remember that as part of our efforts to strengthen our midwifery education initiatives we have partnered with the University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in Zurich and the Hamlin College of Midwives (HCM) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to support a teacher exchange program. The program launched in March 2017, when MSc in Midwifery and ZHAW senior lecturer Denise Eigenmann spent three months in Ethiopia teaching at the Hamlin College and visiting rural health centres.

Following on from her first successful exchange, Denise has just completed a 2nd shorter but very intense trip, using knowledge gained from last year. We were thrilled that this time Denise teamed up with final year ZHAW midwifery student Vera Maria Probst, who assisted her in running the interactive and practical workshops. They taught the Hamlin midwifery staff and students about the advantages of using upright birth positions, such as the ability for the woman in labor to take deeper breaths providing more oxygenation and more strength to push, the use of gravity and more space in the pelvic outlet – all of which help to reduce the chance of episiotomies, vacuum-deliveries and birth injuries such as fistula.

Denise and Vera Maria enjoyed running the workshops, finding the participants very interested and engaged. By the end of the week they reported that everyone (including themselves!) had learnt a lot. Below is a short overview of their trip in their own words:

“We had an absolutely fantastic first workshop with the Hamlin College of Midwife teachers and Hamlin-graduated midwives from the health centres. It was an intense day of sharing, teaching and learning from one another. The participants enjoyed using the MamaBirthies [birthing dolls which simulate live births] that GreenLamp provided. They were very grateful for this day. And we were very happy, too! It was so nice to give a workshop for such interested people. The Deans of the Hamlin College of Midwives Zalalem Belete and Sister Marit were also there for most of the day.

We conducted our second workshop with the 3rd year students that was also fantastic. The students were so interested and participated so well. It was a pleasure to do this workshop for them. During the practical part they laughed a lot and they really dared to try new birth positions.

When we arrived at the hospital we met Catherine Hamlin and Mamitu in the garden, and spent some time talking to them. What a privilege! [In the photo on the right, from left to right: Denise, Catherine, Mamitu and Vera Maria]

Our third and last workshop was with the 2nd year students and they were also interested and learnt a lot during the day. Of course they didn’t know Denise from the previous trip and they had less clinical practice then the 3rd year students, so they were shy at first when we started the practical training. At the end of the week were satisfied with the three workshops and also tired because it was very intense – but so rewarding.”

For more details on Denise’s first trip visit her earlier Blog


Listen to Denise talk about her experience in Ethiopia during her first GreenLamp/ZHAW exchange.