Networking at the ICM Brisbane Congress led to individual action and lives saved in Afghanistan: Anne Marie Rennie, a midwife from Aberdeen, Scotland, met a colleague in Brisbane and was inspired to raise funds to help women and babies in need.

AuteurRennie, Anne Marie

Networking in Brisbane, Australia

I was delighted to be able to attend the ICM 27th Triennial Congress, at which I had been invited to present my MSc thesis 'Midwives views of models of midwifery using focus groups'. I was fortunate to gain a distinction for this work and felt very enthusiastic about discussing it at a major international event.

Midwives throughout the world attended this conference to share their experiences, and it was fantastic hearing about their practice. I met many midwifery friends at the conference and it was great listening to their stories. I enjoyed the sessions that I attended and learnt so much, particu-larly about the high maternal mortality rates in the developing world.

I was fortunate to meet a midwife friend, Sheena Currie, who is now working in Afghanistan. She gave a presentation, with a colleague, about maternal mortality in Afghanistan and why women die, using some case studies to illustrate typical real life scenarios, where women did not survive childbirth. In Afghanistan, one woman dies every 30 minutes from pregnancy-related causes. One of the reasons for this in Afghanistan (and there are many), is that skilled attendants are present at only 9% of births.

Action in Aberdeen. Scotland

On return from Australia, my colleague Susan Gibb and I organised an 'Australian evening' on St Andrew's day (St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland), to disseminate this educational experience to student midwives studying at the Robert Gordon University, and our midwifery colleagues in education and practice. During the event, we spoke of the plight of women in Afghanistan, and I decided that it would be a good idea to raise some money to send to Sheena Currie to purchase sleeping bags and other items, after she had told me that Afghan babies were dying in the cold.

It was coming up to Christmas, and was fairly cold in Aberdeen, but I have been lucky. Never in my career as a midwife, have I needed to support women who have lost their baby due to cold weather.

To raise funds for Sheena, I asked everyone I knew to donate unwanted items to sell at car boot sales (fund-raising events in a field or car-park, where people use their car as a market-stall). The response...

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