Text by Sam Mednick
“I want to be a leader in my field,” says Repent Khamis. Sitting at his desk in the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery (JCONAM), the 40-year-old South Sudanese nursing and midwifery tutor says he wants to influence people so they can realize their potential. Khamis is one of 17 South Sudanese mentees taking part in the peer-to-peer mentoring programme initiated by the Canadian Association of Midwives (CAM) with the South Sudan Nurses and Midwives Association (SSNAMA). “The design of the project is to ensure that there is a two-way communication between participants from the two countries,” says Kelly Chisholm, a registered midwife based in Nova Scotia. “This way, shared learning can take place as both our countries have midwifery that is still growing.” The initiative provides South Sudanese trainers like Khamis with the opportunity to gain a different perspective on midwifery while improving their skills. After studying nursing in Kenya, Khamis returned to Juba to work as a nurse tutor. He said it wasn’t until visiting a rural town that he decided to upgrade his credentials and become a midwife.
“We were giving vaccinations to children in that village,” says Khamis. “One of the women we met by chance was experiencing a prolonged labor and really needed to get to the hospital, but she had no means of transportation.” Khamis and his team gave the woman a lift in their car and arrived at the health clinic just in time. “That moment had an effect on me,” he says. The woman could have died had it not been for their chance encounter. Khamis realized the dire need in the country for more health personnel, emergency transportation and awareness about safe deliveries, especially in rural areas.