Hello, my name is Victoria, an intercalating medical student, studying a masters in Global Health and Management. Last semester I interned with the Soapbox Collaborative as part of my course, and worked on a project with Professor Graham, on maternity ward overcrowding. I found the topic so interesting that I requested to be able to continue it and design my own dissertation on the topic. Thankfully I was granted permission to do this and I began my dissertation in April, building on the work I had previously done.
As this dissertation was examining overcrowding on maternity wards in low- and middle-income countries, I would need to collect data in-country. Due to the Soapbox Collaborative’s strong links with Felege-Hiwot Referral Hospital (FHRH) in Ethiopia, we decided this would be the best option, especially as I was going alone. So in the middle of June, I packed my bags and travelled to Ethiopia!
Having never been to Ethiopia before, I was excited but nervous. Once I arrived in Bahir Dar and at FHRH, all the people made a special effort to make me feel at home, and after a few days it really did feel like home. I became accustomed to drinking the amazing coffee, greeting hospital staff in Amharic and being on maternity wards.
While I was there, I conducted a feasibility study of the checklist I had designed in the previous months as part of my dissertation. The checklist looks at lots of different aspects of the maternity ward, so my tasks were to monitor the ward, obsess over how many beds there were, admire all the new-born babies, and sometimes if I was lucky, I got to witness deliveries!
My experience in Ethiopia was incredible; the people, culture, language and coffee made my stay thoroughly enjoyable, although because I was there in the rainy season it rained more than it ever does in Scotland – typical!! On returning home I have been writing up my results which will be disseminated to both the Soapbox Collaborative and FHRH.
I look forward to returning to Ethiopia in March (I’ve been assured this is not the rainy season) for my elective to continue the project, and restock my supplies of coffee!