Following our familiarization adventure it was off to the conference in Durban. A long day of travel was in store, with breakfast in Tanzania, morning tea in Kenya, lunch in Johanessberg and dinner in Durban. The conference was held at the Durban International Convention Centre and it rapidly became obvious this was a huge contingent with over 3500 delegates having registered. The opening ceremony was a blaze of color with midwives from many countries doning their traditional costumes. We learnt our midwives international anthem (yes for those of you who are saying huh??? We were the same!) and to say VIVA midwives at the top of our voice. It was a stunning sight to see the flags of so many countries flying up the front – it could have been mistaken for the Olympic games!
YFER had organized to have a stall to showcase Core of Life and many of our resources and in doing so gave us the opportunity to interact with incredible numbers of overseas delegates and find ourselves immersed in inspiring conversations complete with hand gestures and laughter. Many of the delegates from countries experiencing third world conditions have very little to educate their communities with so found great pleasure in handling our teaching tools and looking at our gorgeous pictures where we got to showoff our beautiful country and communities. Many were surprised to learn that we have black people living in Australia – little was known about our Aboriginal population by most of the overseas delegates.
YFER also ran a workshop to encourage play as being a engaging way of imparting powerful maternal health messages and to encourage networking and working together to create something strong and unique to share with clients. We shared a piece of traditional ceremony footage from East Arnhemland in the Northern Territory with the group who finished in awe of the Aboriginal women, who they were, they're strength and what they stood for.
Tracy's mother, Dot and daughter Ruby also attended the conference, which was very handy given the high volume of visitors we had to our stall. They enjoyed the experience immensely learning to communicate with all the foreign visitors and singing along with the Sierra Leone midwives choir each day.
At the end of the conference the YFER team was exhausted, enlightened, inspired and yet excited to see the prospects of being able to return to Africa in the coming years to share Core of Life education and teaching tools with communities that have little but amazing dedicated midwives.