Masterful 84-Year-Old Midwife, Celebrated for Exceptional Skills in Empowering Pregnant Mothers

An inspiring story of how the involvement of a traditional Birth Attendant contributed to the uptake of Maternal Child Health.

An inspiring story of how the involvement of a traditional Birth Attendant contributed to the uptake of Maternal Child Health.

Mama Pauline Parkei, 84, is a re-known Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) in Olasiti, Ntulele and Suswa areas of Narok East Sub County.

We met her at Olasiti Health Center attending a young woman who had just given birth to a bouncing baby girl, after she had rushed her to the hospital in the wee hours of the night.

We sat at the hospital’s waiting bay as she attended the young mother who had just given birth. The medics at the health center seemed to be comfortable with the old mama attending the patient in the delivery room.

When she finished attending her patient, she came walking majestically towards our direction with a gentle smile on face. At the first glance, you would guess she is in her mid-50, until she shows her Identification card that proves she was born back in 1940.

As she organized herself for our interview, she received numerous phone calls from women in labour who wanted her help. Others who were calling were women with pregnancy complications.

She reveals that she has been a midwife for over 30 years; where she moved from house to house helping mothers give birth.

So talented is Mama Pauline that she can detect the sex of the unborn child and confirm how old the fetus is, by placing her finger on the mother’s tammy.

“I can easily tell whether the unborn baby is a boy or girl. I have done this for many years and I have never been wrong,” she says.

However, she confesses that there are numerous challenges she faces in her course of duty, among them lack of gloves for protection while carrying out a delivery, lack of enough water and over bleeding that compromised the health of the mothers.

Other times, she if forced to walk for several kilometers to get to her client’s home, if the client cannot afford to pay for a motorbike.

“I do not mind whether someone pays for my transport or not, because I believe God has given me this talent to help my fellow women. Everyone who calls for help, I make sure I give my best,” she notes.

But it was a relief for her when NPI Expand project introduced programs to train TBA on how to conduct safe deliver and sensitized them on the need to rush the women to nearby hospitals when they were in labour.

“We have been enlightened on the need to refer the women to the hospitals so that in case they have major complications, they can get help. This has made our work easier as women get specialized treatment,” she adds.

However, for those women who don’t make to the hospital, owing to the long distances to the hospital, the old mid-wife has been trained how to handle such a case with the protection of gloves, unlike before where they would use bare hands.

The NPI Expand program that began two years ago, she says, has helped to improve hospital deliveries compared to home deliveries as women were enlightened on the need to visit the hospital for delivery.

Mama Pauline, who has already become a brand in her community, travels from village to village sensitizing women to visit the anti-natal clinics and post natal clinics to improve their health and that of their children.

She is well known to medics in the local hospitals and most time when she arrives with a patient in the hospital, she is allowed in the delivery room to assist the medics.

The mother of 14 children discloses that her husband, who passed on in 2022 at the age of 102 years was her strong pillar as he encourage continuing with her talent and passion.

When asked if she has trained anyone to continue with her legacy, Mama Pauline says she is mentoring her daughters in law.

Her last born son Milton Parkei says her mother is always busy attending pregnant women who come to consult her on matters of their pregnancy.

In case of complications, she has the knowledge of which herbs to use, on specific condition, so that one can be healed.

“I believe that my mother has a special talent. Many people call her for help and she ensures that she attends everyone who calls for help. Despite the mobility challenges, my mother never ignores anyone,” she reiterates.

Evalyne Segendo says she was helped deliver four children safely by mama Pauline.

“She is a renown mid-wife in this area, every time we call her for help, she responds promptly. Sometime we don’t pay even a shilling,” she says.

Mama Margaret Koilel, a mid-wife too says “I have learnt a lot of skills from Mama Pauline”.

The reformed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cutter says she abandoned cutting girls after a training by NPI expand program.

“Girls who have undergone FGM tend to bleed more and take time to heal compared to those who have not undergone the cut. Though the practice was rampant in the Maa community before, it is slowly dying because of its negative effects and strict government policies,” she adds.

AIC Olasit Health Center Facility In-Charge Mr. Pion Julius explains how NPI project has helped improve hospital deliveries. Before, he says, there were zero hospital births recorded. However, the trend has changed since the program was introduced as the hospital records over 20 births per month.

The officer recognizes the great role that Mama Pauline is playing in the society to advise the mothers to visit the hospital for both antenatal and post-natal clinics, as well as assisting the women get to the hospital when they are in labour.

“The program was key in sensitizing TBAs on hospital deliveries. Currently, we have the number of hospital deliveries going high as the community perception is changing,” he says.

The medic called for more programs in the area that will continue sensitizing the residents on the need to have children undergo all immunization.

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