A midwife returns to Afghanistan

Two years ago, Mimansa, a midwife with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was working in a maternity unit in Afghanistan.  Now she’s preparing to go back, to see old friends and to return to work in a region with one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world…

I’m off again!

But behind that simple statement are thoughts, feelings and considerations - for each MSF assignment there are parts of the process I recognize, while others are new.

This time it’s the yearning to go back to the people I left two years ago, a longing that I’ve felt since I left.

The people of Dasht-e-Barshi, Kabul, Afghanistan.

This is a region where maternal and child mortality rates are among the highest in the world. A place where hope never gives up and where the people impress me deeply.

Mimansa Madheden in her uniform at the hospital in Afghanistan

Mimansa in Afghanistan.  Photo: Mimansa Madheden / MSF

But what’s deeper for me is what it means to go away from home for a long time. I’ve been thinking about what it does to a human being, what it’s like when the context you live in is that of a person who comes and goes, comes and goes.

I don’t know, there is no easy answer, you have to make the best of it.

During the two years that I’ve been at home, I have had the opportunity to be part of a service where we specifically target foreign-born pregnant women who do not speak Swedish and who are not familiar with the Swedish healthcare system. In Sweden, it is this group of women who are most exposed to the risks and complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

Being part of this service has felt very meaningful, and I know that the group running it will make Swedish childbirth safer for these women. Being part of this team, I’ve learnt that I’m able to use the experiences I have from my MSF assignments in a creative way.

But now, my colleagues and patients in Kabul are waiting, I look forward to seeing those strong, wise, struggling, extremely enduring friends. Friends who I have carried with me in my heart, wondering how they are doing.

And I'm looking forward to getting back and working to make a difference for every woman and child who comes to our obstetrics clinic. I look forward to being involved and developing such a meaningful project.

I know that I will feel like pulling my hair out, I will get into close combat with frustration, I will face situations I cannot even imagine, I will in moments of longing for my loved ones at home curse myself and my choices. But I also know that I will grow, as a midwife and as a human being, and that I will learn a lot.

And finally - I will blog from this from this assignment as I have before. I hope I can share my life there with you.

So I say: See you Sweden! And Dasht-e-Barshi, I’m looking forward to seeing you again!

> Read this post in the original Swedish