Lelabo Kalemat Dere is a 20-year-old midwife student attending midwifery training at Arba-Minch Health Science College (AHSC) in Ethiopia. She joined the college through an opportunity created by Amref Health Africa via a project supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD, formerly CIDA) to address the shortage in numbers of midwives in the South Omo region.
She explains the meaning of her name as “a day of satisfaction and happiness”. Lelabo was born and raised in Salamgo, in a place called Hayloha. “My father died when I was 10 years old and my mother was the one who used to take care of me and my siblings. However, my mom also died two years back and this had made life very difficult for my siblings,” she observes. Lelabo attended her primary and secondary education (5th-10th grade) at Arba-Minch boarding school. The school provides free education to marginalized pastoralists’ children with the aim of addressing the education need of the community.
In explaining why she joined midwifery training, Lelabo said, “In our community women give birth alone in a forest. To deal with the pain, they use a kneeling down position and hold a stick to support their body. The suffering they pass through is unimaginable. I even remember many women dying alone in the forest due to heavy bleeding and some even lost their children. Seeing that experience made me aspire to become a health professional who will help women during delivery.”
Lelabo points out that the education being provided at the college is very good and it is enabling her to gain theoretical and practical knowledge and skill, which will be useful in helping her community after graduation. Lelabo describes her desire after graduation, “After I complete my education, I want to go back to my village and as my name indicates, I want to be a ray of satisfaction and happiness to my family and the whole community. I can do this by advising women to have antenatal care and follow up and give birth at the health facilities. I will also work to ease the pain and prevent the occurrence of various complications which arise during labor and delivery.” In addition to fulfilling her childhood dream of helping women during delivery, Lelabo also said that completing her education will enable her to help her siblings economically, who hardly make a living through cattle rearing.
Through DFATD funding, Amref Health Africa in Ethiopia is currently training 78 midwives at the Arba-Minch Health Science College with the objective of improving maternal and child health in South Omo Zone by equipping health facilities with skilled workers. This will enhance the capacity of health facilities to provide high quality service to pregnant women and their children.
This project is undertaken with CDN $2.25million of financial support from the Government of Canada provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development