Bangladesh Twinning Project
The RCM has been engaged in midwifery twinning in various countries since 2012 but only started the Bangladesh Twinning Project in July 2017. Twinning is reciprocal so as we hope to help strengthen the Bangladesh Midwifery Society (BMS), we also hope to bring learning and new ideas back to midwifery in the UK.
It’s a crucial time in the project, nearing the end of our first year – which has seen many successes and challenges – and helping to prepare for an election for their executive board members, voting for which will be fully electronic for the first time. New members are frantically enrolling so that they can be eligible to stand for the board, or to vote for their preferred candidates. With our help, BMS have hired 6 student midwives to help with data entry and 40-50 new members are joining every day – I’m sure the RCM would love to match that! I’m here in country for a week to support the preparation, meeting with the Election Commissioners who are overseeing the process and supporting the (one) staff member and outgoing executive officers, plus meeting key stakeholders. This involves lots of cups of tea and biscuits so not good for my waistline!
Travelling on my own this time, I’m staying in a safe hotel near the Diplomatic section of the city. This requires long Uber journeys across the congested and polluted city of Dhaka to get anywhere. I’m using the time to make phone calls and cat-nap to counter the jet-lag. Tomorrow I may take my Kindle! Yesterday a Bangladeshi colleague asked me how I spend my evenings in the hotel. She was worried I would be bored or lonely. In fact, the evenings fly by as I have to keep up with e mails, expenses, writing up notes and preparing presentations in addition to video calls with family, blogs, social media – and often evening meetings over dinner. I’m lucky to have a couple of long-term friends in Dhaka (though both happen to be away this week) so on other trips I’ve spent time with them too.
We try to practice the ‘rule of thirds’ in our twinning projects, something we learned from the Dutch midwives. This involves making sure that we spend at least one third of our awake-time with national colleagues, a third with those from our own or a similar culture, and a third alone. So, I divide the day into morning, afternoon and evening and try to only fill two of those sections to enable sufficient alone time. I’m not very good at that – but there’s always tomorrow! It’s also important to get some sleep and this time I’ve brought my own pillow from home which is making such a difference. What’s on my packing list will have to be the subject of another blog!
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