Over the last nine months, you’ve read my stories–my successes, my embarrassing cultural faux pas, the time I wore the same outfit to a wedding as an old woman, etc.
I love that you’ve followed me on this journey. But I think you’ve heard enough about me.
Over the next few months, I’d be honored if you’d let me introduce you to the amazing Togolese people I’ve met: my friends, my role models, my family.
The first person I’d like to introduce you to is the birth attendant in my village, Gado. She is the only birth attendant in a village of 2400 people. She is on call 24/7, and it isn’t uncommon for her to work 36 hours in a row without sleep.
I’ve never heard her complain once.
Togo has a huge problem with respectful maternity care. It is not uncommon for midwives or birth attendants to beat pregnant women, even during childbirth, for infractions as minor as screaming during delivery.
Gado is different. She is the most respectful and kindest woman I’ve ever met, and watching her interact with the mothers and their babies has more than once brought a tear to my eye.
Printed below, with her permission, is Gado’s story (translated from French). I hope that you feel as inspired by her as I do every day.
I didn’t go to school very often when I was a kid. I was always doing chores for my family.
I moved to Sokodé for middle school and the family never gave me time to study. I dropped out of school in 6th grade.
I wanted to be a seamstress. I even have a machine in my home. I went to trainings, the same trainings as your host mother.
When the maternity unit opened at the health clinic, the village chose me to be the birth attendant. I refused. I told them that I didn’t have any education.
A woman told me that it didn’t matter how educated I was. What mattered was that I had good will.
Most birth attendants go to school for three years. I only did my training at a hospital for one.
The trainers at the hospital were so very mean. Each day they would insult me in front of the other women.
“Why would you do that?” they would say. “You are making us look bad!”
I was often asked to be on-call during the nights with two midwives.
When a woman came to give birth, I would deliver the baby. The midwives stayed asleep.
The next day, the midwives would yell at me. “Why didn’t you wake us?” they would ask. “What you did is illegal!”
I was so sad. I cried every day. I wanted so badly to quit.
I didn’t know what to do, but God did. I prayed to Him and He watched over me.
I finished the training after the year. I came to the health clinic in June 2016.
Before I arrived, the nurse did all of the childbirth procedures. He delivered 38 babies in the first 5 month of 2016.
In the first 3 months of 2017, I’ve delivered the same number.
The woman that I talked to was right. Good will is more important than having a high level of education.
I have three kids. I demand that they go to school. I am going to send all three of them to college. Money is tight, but I know that they will have a better future that way.
I know that I don’t speak French very well. But I know too that God has blessed me and has watched over me.