It’s hard to believe that a few weeks have already passed since our arrival. Although excited to visit “the world’s longest sea beach,” we don’t think that either of us really knew what to expect before arriving in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The hospitality we’ve received from the people at our partner organization, The Hope Foundation (a non-profit that provides maternal and child health services) has been incredible. Getting used to unfamiliar settings has certainly taken time, but finding kind and smiling faces has not been difficult. Cox’s Bazar is starting to feel like home.
Two weekends ago, we were able to visit the Island of Moheshkali, a much anticipated trip for the both of us. We were excited to finally meet the Village Health Workers (VHWs) whom we will work with and train during the upcoming weeks. The VHWs, who will be trained to perform antenatal care at the patient’s home, will also learn how to use low-tech mobile phones that will support a reminder system encouraging women to receive their four antenatal care appointments.
Getting to Moheshkhali is an adventure we will always remember. Trying very hard to balance ourselves on a makeshift dock made of tiny planks of wood and hopping from boat to boat, we finally made it on to our speed boat and began our journey to the historic island known for its Buddhist Pagoda and Hindu temple. We later learned that the bustling island has a population of over 200,000 people, served only by a government hospital and the Hope Foundation clinic. At the clinic in Moheshkhali, we were greeted by two of the VHWs, Rehanna and Luthfa. We were pleased to see that they were just as excited to work with us as we were to work with them. It was evident that they wanted nothing more than for us to be comfortable. As we walked through the area surrounding the clinic, they often led us by the hand, spoke with smiles, and introduced us to locals. The end of the tour brought us to a Mother’s Club meeting (a health discussion group organized by the Hope Foundation). This meeting was our first exposure to one of the communities we will be working with.
Getting introduced to the Mother’s Club
The Mother’s Club meeting introduced us to an element of the project that we hadn’t really discussed: community. One of the most vocal voices was a man who wanted to understand the benefits of participating in the study. It was a gentle reminder that antenatal care and our project is about the entire family. We could tell that everyone wanted the project to be successful for the sake of their community. Our team is not just Medic Mobile and the Hope Foundation. Our team consists of both organizations, VHWs, and the entire population of every community we work with. Although it may sound cliché, we are already seeing how “it takes a village.”
Zahra Bhimani and Faye Maison