One Born Every Minute midwives swap Liverpool for Tanzania

28 January 2016
Thumbnail WaterAid/Eliza Powell

Cheryl Stanley and Delia Jepson share their life-changing experiences of working on the wards of Kiomboi hospital in support of our Deliver Life appeal.

Viewers of Channel 4's One Born Every Minute will be familiar with the joy, agony, beauty and, sometimes, the tragedy of childbirth. The long-running documentary series has shown that midwives' jobs can be as tough as they are rewarding.

But the environment that specialists like Cheryl Stanley and Delia Jepson work in – clean hospitals with safe running water – make their jobs a lot less complicated. 

Throughout our Deliver Life appeal, we've been sharing the stories of remarkable midwives like Daniel and Juliana who help to deliver babies without the basics that Cheryl and Delia work with every day.

This month, the One Born Every Minute midwives paid a visit to Kiomboi hospital to discover the difficulties being faced by their Tanzanian counterparts – and the extraordinary changes that are happening there.

At the hospital, Cheryl and Delia met with Mary, a young mother whose baby was recovering from sepsis, a severe infection that can be caused by a lack of safe water and an unclean environment.

Midwives Cheryl Stanley (left) and Delia Jepson (right) sit with 21-year-old Mary Samson Gunda at her bedside at Kiomboi Hospital, Iramba, Tanzania, January 2016.WaterAid/Eliza Powell
Cheryl and Delia sit with new Mary at her bed in Kiomboi hospital.

Kiomboi hospital sees around one case a week of sepsis in newborn babies or their mothers, many of which prove fatal. 

“I would feel frustrated,” Cheryl remarked on working without access to safe water. “I really saw how essential water is to midwives doing their job safely.”

For Delia, a highlight of her trip was accompanying baby boy Ezekia and his proud mum Elizabeth home to their village, where their family gets their water from digging a hole in the river bed.

"A midwife’s bond with a mother when she delivers her baby is indescribable," she said. "So going back with her, meeting her family and seeing where they collect their water was amazing.”

That bond was underlined when new mum Faraja and her family decided to name her newborn after the midwife who delivered her. Watch this video and meet baby Cheryl:

Thanks to the support of the British public, work is underway at Kiomboi, where soon all midwives and mums will have safe water on tap – meaning a better start for babies like Mary’s, Elizabeth’s and Faraja’s. 

Seeing the incredible effects that safe, clean water will have at Kiomboi, Delia told us before returning to the UK: "WaterAid isn't just about giving water – it's about empowering the women and the communities."

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