Meet the midwife daring in conflict zones

Priscilla Wangare, a nurse and midwife with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, at Lulimba Hospital in South Kivu region, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2018.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • She works with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), flying to areas prone to rebel or terrorist attacks.
  • Before joining MSF, she had worked at a Red Cross hospital in Lokichogio, Turkana.

Priscilla Wangare is an outstanding nurse and midwife, saving lives of expectant women and babies in conflict zones across the world.

She is a midwife with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), flying to areas prone to rebel or terrorist attacks to care for pregnant mothers, deliver their babies and provide postnatal care.

She breaks down during a WhatsApp interview with Nation.Africa when asked about her work in South Sudan. The question brings back the unbearable memories of the scary status of the women and babies she served.

“The prayers of my late mother kept me strong,” she says.

“The smiles of the women who have gone through my hands too give me the strength to continue with my midwifery work under the very challenging conditions.”

Dedication

Ms Wangare has been with MSF for 11 years, starting off with South Sudan, before moving to Ethiopia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan.

During the interview, she was in Pakistan (specific area of her operations withheld to protect her from any harm, considering the dangerous nature of her working environments). She flew into the South Asian country last year.

“We go to places where women cannot access quality healthcare and with limited resources we try our best to provide the best care,” she says, noting that “sometimes I cry a lot,” empathising with the women and babies she tends to.

“I feel it is God who sent me out here to come save people’s lives,” she says, adding she feels “really good that she is saving lives out there”.

Beat the odds

As a medical professional, Ms Wangare has beaten the odds to help others. Before joining MSF, she had worked at an International Committee of the Red Cross hospital in Lokichogio, Turkana County, where she suffered a back problem while lifting a patient whose spinal cord had been injured with gunshots.

To repair her back, Ms Wangare underwent two surgical procedures. During her recovery from the second procedure, the hospital was closed.

Upon recovery, she took up a job with an Italian non-governmental organisation, which posted her to South Sudan. She served as a midwife from 2007 until 2011 when she joined MSF in the same capacity. Later, MSF flew her from South Sudan to Ethiopia, and her travel continues.

“I have seen God in my journey because of all these things that I see; it is only by God’s grace that I have reached where I am,” she says.

In the next two years, Ms Wangare says she would retire and hopefully return to Kenya.

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