My VSO adventures

Tag Archives: Axum University

The start of this week was a bit different to the other weeks I’ve spent here. On Monday and Tuesday I was teaching a course for 3rd year student midwives at Axum University. I had been asked by Diane, one of their professors and one of the friends I’ve made here in Axum. The previous week I’d been busy writing all the lectures, planning learning activities and practical skill stations. I also wrote a student course book and trainers manual. Of course I was using all of the available resources I had from the UK, Ethiopia and other volunteers. It was all finally completed in time.
We took a bajaj out to the university, which is on the outskirts of town, and got to the lecture room. In the end we started only an hour late! The overhead projector arrived after about 20 minutes. We had some students after about 30 minutes – who then left again. In the mean time the chairs in the classroom had to be protected from other classes who kept trying to pinch them as they didn’t have enough in their room. Finally I managed to get started. As we started so late all of my careful planning went out the window and I started to drop activities left, right and centre to make sure that we didn’t run too late. What really surprised me though was when at 11.25am when I wanted to start a new activity they put up a fight saying it was lunchtime – the official time for it to start is 12 noon. Eventually with Diane coaxing them we managed to do the activity and still get them out before 12. Most of the staff head off back into town on buses supplied by the university for lunch but Diane and myself joined her husband and went to one of the university cafes. The chairs were set outside in what ever bit of shade could be found. Only fasting food was available (no meat) as it’s a fasting time here in the run up to Christmas on 7th January.
After lunch it was time to return to the classroom. This time we started only about 20 minutes late. The electricity was more temperamental in the afternoon going off twice which required some quick improving and drawing on the board to continue the lectures. Finally the day finished. I don’t think I’ve talked that much in a long time. I gave all of the lectures with only a couple of group tasks and 1 video as a break in the talking. I’ve not been so exhausted by a days work since I got here. No idea how teachers do it every day as well as all the lesson planning and marking.
On the way back home I stopped at the hospital to try and get hold of resus babies for the practical the next day. Unfortunately only adult dolls had been prepared but I did manage to do some real resus on a preterm baby on the ward who I noticed kept stopping breathing. We managed to start some CPAP and the baby is now doing well.
On the Tuesday I headed to the hospital first to try to get hold of baby resus dolls while Diane went to the university to start the course. After about 20 minutes the librarian turned up and I managed to collect the dolls from exactly where I thought they were! Tuesday was a more practical day teaching hands on skills – kangaroo mother care, breastfeeding counseling and the essential newborn resus. The students enjoyed getting chance to learn about newborn resus. It was an effort to get them to remember to say they were checking the breathing during each assessment of the baby and also not to jump in with chest compressions when they weren’t needed! Testing them at the end they seemed to do well and have learnt from the day. There was only 1 student I tested who really didn’t seem to get it but after I talked him through it and put him down as needing more practice he was insistent on trying again – even trying to push in front of students who hadn’t had a go yet. When he did finally retest there was a marked improvement, which was great to see.
In the evening after getting back into town we decided that a treat was needed after all the hard work. Pizza out with Diane and her family plus my housemates was a great reward!