They were encouraged to take this step and complete their internship abroad by their lecturers and their programme director Elisabeth Rakos, as Tamara Straß explains: "In our studies so far, we have always been given a very comprehensive view of the course contents taught. Some of our lecturers were in Africa or abroad themselves and were able to provide us with valuable information. They fully supported us in our project. Our programme director Lisa Rakos also always motivated us to look for new experiences and was enthusiastic if someone wanted to do an internship outside of Austria."
Internships abroad are formative learning experiences
Lisa Rakos, programme director of our degree programme Hebammen, explains why an experience abroad is so important and why it is recommended: "Internships abroad enable midwifery students to have very formative learning experiences. Women's life situations regarding pregnancy and childbirth differ so fundamentally around the world that profound cultural sensitivity can only be achieved through real engagement with different circumstances. We are a university of applied sciences with an international orientation. That is why I see it as my task to promote internships abroad and to support my students from the search for internships to the reflection of their international experiences. The scientific value of such internships should also not be underestimated - sometimes a particularly interesting topic for a bachelor's thesis arises, particularly in the context of an internship abroad."
With the help of the organisation World Unite!, Tamara Straß and Marie Hamedinger were able to contact the "Pasua Health Care Center", a small hospital in Tanzania. One of their tasks was to look after expectant mothers during and after childbirth and also to be present at births.
Valuable impressions and memories
"I was touched by this mission right from the start," says Marie Hamedinger about her experience abroad. "We were warmly welcomed by the Pasua Health Center. On the very first day we received dried fish and boiled bananas as a welcome meal. I was particularly fascinated by the Tanzanian 'pole pole' culture, which translates to ' slow, slow'. This culture lets you find peace of mind and you learn to be more tolerant. It also helped me to become calmer as a midwife, to get a feeling for the woman and the situation and to strengthen my trust in the natural birth. Of course, there were also very challenging situations which, thank God, all went well".
Even before their stay, the two students knew that the most basic things would be missing in Africa. For this reason, they both tried to collect donations for mothers and children before their departure. With the help of donations from the Landsee Youth Association and the Michelhausen parish, they were able to raise a total of 1,800 euros. The money was mainly used for medical equipment in the Pasua Health Care Center. The money was also used to support the integrative Primary School St. Francis, which is both a school and home for around 300 pupils (without disabilities, deaf people, albinos and the visually impaired).
During her internship in Tanzania, Tamara Straß and Marie Hamedinger also supported a paediatrician from England who, together with three local doctors, carried out health checks on over 100 orphans. In the course of the examinations, the team treated some children who developed avoidable blindness, treated children with impaired vision with appropriate glasses and treated various diseases with the appropriate medication.
The two future midwives were able to gain valuable insights which Marie Hamedinger confirmed: "The people living there showed me, among other things, that despite all the suffering and poverty, life can have colourful and happy sides. We should be grateful for this every day".