MARIA. THE SUPPORTER.
Maria joined Jacaranda as a Patient Care Assistant when the first maternity hospital opened in 2012. She was new to maternal health when she arrived, but her two sons had inspired her to enter the field. She is currently in school for her degree as a Medical Technician, a program managed by the Red Cross.
Maria was drawn to Jacaranda because of its emphasis on respectful maternity care. “Many women are judged the moment they walk into a hospital in Kenya. Shoes can tell you a lot about the economic status of a person,” Maria says. “At Jacaranda, in contrast, everyone is equal; there are no judgments.” Maria is eager to go to work every day not only because she knows that her efforts are helping women and their families, but also because she is supporting change in what she views as a broken system.
Maria enjoys working with Jacaranda for a number of reasons, but she particularly appreciates the active engagement with fathers. “Jacaranda encourages us to include the partners of the moms in the delivery process.” Maria remembers well the story of a couple delivered their first son at Jacaranda. She included the husband through the entire delivery, a rare phenomenon in a country where fathers rarely participate in the childbirth event. After the delivery of his son, the new father said to Maria, “You’ve made me see what I never expected to see. I am so thankful. I am so grateful for my wife.”
The greatest thing that Maria has learned at Jacaranda is to listen. As she says, “I’ve learned to listen, I mean really listen – to patients, superiors, fellow nurses, administrators; everyone.” Paying close attention and using a nuanced cultural awareness to hear what client are really saying helps Maria explain health concepts and care. “Many times clients go to a hospital and receive advice, but the language is too technical for them to understand. By interacting with clients from their perspective, I understand better where they are coming from, and can change the words I use to describe different things.” Knowledge is a tool for empowerment; the opportunity to teach these women will change the expectations they have for themselves and for the care they receive.