Be the change you want to see in the world. ~ Ghandi

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Kim Law in Hargeisa Somaliland

Recently the Nurses for Edna team traveled to the Abdi Idan MCH Clinic in one of the poorest neighborhoods’ in Hargeisa, Somaliland. This  free, government funded clinic provides multiple services including antenatal and postpartum care, low risk deliveries, nutrition clinic, pediatric health and immunization clinic, and a lab services. In a recent report from nurse, Kim Law, she describes her experience:
        “After a thirty minute drive down what one would generously call a very bumpy road, or realistically call a 4x4 trail, we arrived.  The clinic is next to what looks like a military or police building, but it's hard to be sure. In between the two buildings is a heaping pile of garbage. There is no waste disposal system in Hargeisa, so garbage lines the streets; it is a common site to see 'urban goats; chewing on discarded plastic.
     On arrival, we were given a quick tour; there was already a lineup at the pharmacy for the nutrition program. Next we settled into the antenatal clinic. The antenatal clinic is staffed by one community midwife, and two community midwife students. Patients were given an antenatal record that they are expected to bring with them to every clinic. At her first visit, the woman is weighed, her height is measured and her obstetrical history is taken. Many of the women guess at their age and the years their children were born.

I noticed a trend that many of the women's first children were born at home, but their more recent deliveries where at an MCH clinic or hospital. Hopefully this is an ongoing trend.
        If available, the women are offered an on the spot HIV, Syphilis, and Hep B testing, but supplies are scarce. On the day we were there, there were only Syphilis tests available, and we ran out of those before the day was over.  After the finger prick, the woman's blood pressure is checked, and then she is assisted onto the examining bed. Her fundal height is measure, the fetus is palpated with Leopold's maneuver, to determine its position, and then the fetal heart is assessed with a fetoscope.
       Joining us on this trip was Dr. Mary Margaret O'Neil, and OB/GYN from California. I had never used a fetoscope before nor done very few antenal exams before 25 weeks gestation, so, she was instrumental in not only teaching the midwifery students, but teaching me as well.
I spent a lot of time helping the students learn how to accurately measure blood pressures, their technique significantly improved over the course of several hours. We instructed them on how to improve their Leopold's maneuver, and the importance of determining fetal position to make it easier and faster to locate the fetal heart. The students very quickly improved their technique for measuring fundal height.
     Another aspect we were able to reinforce, was caring and compassion. For example, helping the woman sit up and get off the examination table, not
leaving her to fend for herself.
     Muuna, the Community Midwife who runs the clinic was so patient with us, letting us teach the students. We definitely made the clinic run late, but the extra time was worth the knowledge we were able to share.”

Thank you everyone for your help and support in making my dream a reality. ~ Kim Law, RN.BSN

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Although I  left San Francisco on Monday, September 8th, I didn't actually get to Hargeisa until Friday the 13th. I had a horrible time getting here. My connecting flight from Addis to Hargeisa was cancelled. An angry airplane of Somali natives and I were waiting around the airport for hours until they gave us hotel vouchers.

 We stayed overnight in Addis. The next day, still no word on how Ethiopian Air would transport us to Hargeisa. There was talk about a bus ride across the border, or possibly sending us to Djibouti to catch another flight to Hargeisa.

 I walked to town with a new friend and had Ethiopian coffee and used the internet. When we returned to the hotel, we learned the airline would fly us to a border town called Jijiga, and then catch a bus across the Ethiopian border to Hargeisa, Somaliland.

We caught our scheduled flight to Jijiga that afternoon and  were greeted by several vans. We loaded up the vans and began our bumpy drive to the border. It was 6PM and as we neared the border, the driver says, "They closed the border. It is 6:05pm. They close at 6pm." WHAT?!

The airline representative with us put us up in a hotel about 4 minutes away. Hotel? No way. This was a cinder block brothel that converted to a hotel when we arrived. Cardboard covered the ground and the walls were dodgy and dirty. Thank the Lord I got my own room because they were short on rooms. I knew would rather sleep standing than lay on that bed, but. I grabbed my stuff and headed to bed anyway wrapping myself in my towels limiting skin contact with the bed.

Edna and Tom picked me up from the drop off location in Hargeisa the next day – Friday the 13th! When we arrived at the hospital I finally met the rest of the Nurses for Edna team - the lovely Kerra and Kim! We've been sharing plenty of laughs the past few days. We've been teaming up on various projects.

“It's an honor to work alongside such passionate nurses. One Nurse At A Time and Nurses for Edna has shown me what amazing things can happen when ambitious women join forces and work towards something they believe in.” ~ Sarah David

Monday, September 2, 2013

Nurses for Edna Team update

Three amazing nurse of the  Nurses for Edna team, Wanda Chestnut, Kim Law and Kerra Plesko departed on August 25, 2013 on their first medical mission to Hargeisa, Somaliland. Due to a death in the family the fourth team member, Sarah David will not arrive until September 9th.
This inaugural mission launched ONE NURSE’s partnership with one of the world’s most respected providers of maternity and midwifery services in developing countries – The Edna Adan Maternity Hospital.
The trip began with more than a few challenges for at least one nurse. When Kim Law’s flight was canceled
and she learned that all other flights to Dulles were full. So, she flew to Calgary, then Newark, then  Baltimore, where United Airlines paid  for her to be driven the final  32kmsby taxi to Dulles.
 Once there she woke up her cohorts, they did a mad scramble to finish sorting out all the medical supplies and luggage, then headed to the airport for their early morning flight to Ethiopia. “No sleep in the near future,’ Kim quipped, ‘Good thing I'm a nurse and I'm used to running on little to no sleep. Nothing is standing in my way!”
 It’s this sort of attitudinal mix - part grit; part humor, that will get the nurses through the next month as they
work under very different conditions than those they are accustomed, in a country very different from their own. Their excitement, trepidation, and their gratitude as they begin this medical mission adventure are best stated in their own words:

“With two sleeps to go before I start my long trip to Somaliland, I’ve been asked how I feel about the upcoming adventure. I’m feeling everything, and surprisingly sometimes I don’t think about it at all...When I’m feeling everything I feel excited. Excited to start the adventure, to finally meet my new cohorts. To meet Edna and the people of Somaliland. I feel hopeful, hopeful; that we can help, even if it’s just in a small way… I feel nervous... Theoretically I know what to expect, but all nurses know that theory rarely matches reality,”~ Kim Law

As the days approach for us to leave I am feeling a little overwhelmed with all I still have to do a work…I am honestly not excited about the 2.5 hour ride to and from the airport, it’s a long way on bad roads. The good thing is I will have company going. I am very excited to see Edna and the other people I met I on my previous trip. ~ Wanda Chestnut

“ I’ve always had a dream of nursing in South Africa and together with One Nurse At  A Time and amazing sponsors like Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, that dream is coming true! Thank you so much!” ~ Kerra Plesko

 Nurses for Edna will work with local medical staff and teach current nursing practice, techniques and standards of care. This joint effort by One Nurse At A Time, Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, and numerous individuals’ donors,  is forged in the common values of integrity, commitment to the well-being of others, an innovative spirit, and a passion for inspiring to the hearts of others.

Check back frequently for updates on this amazing team’s work in Hargeisa, Somaliland!

About One Nurse At A Time
One Nurse At A Time, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded by nurses in 2007. They are passionate about giving back to the local and global community through volunteer and humanitarian medical pursuits. Their goals are to support nurses by lowering the entry barriers to volunteer locally and globally, and to increase public awareness of the role and contribution nurses make at home and abroad. For more information, please contact Nancy Leigh Harless, Communications Liaison, at 319.372.1339, email; or Sue Averill, President 206.527.4862

About Barco’s Nightingales Foundation
Barco’s Nightingales Foundation, operating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded by Michael and Frida Donner on behalf of Barco Uniforms. The Foundation serves to advance the nursing profession and honor those women and men who devote their lives to serving others through nursing. The Foundation is the Donner family’s way of paying tribute and saluting the many generations of nurses for their tremendous contribution in making the world a better place. Its objective is to support the vitality and courageous heart of nursing, while also dedicating itself to honoring the spirit of those women and men who choose nursing by focusing its philanthropic efforts on helping to mend the lives of children and their families.  For more information, please contact Barco’s Nightingales Foundation headquarters at 310.719.2108, follow us on Facebook or email