I am not a fan of first impressions. I find they have more to do with me than with the other person or situation! After a week at Bumi Wadah, I have ideas rolling around. After living in Korea and spending months in Sierra Leone, I see many contrasts and many similarities.
I like the clinic and the people. They are committed to providing good care, even when it is hard. The typhoon is past, and the needs are changing. The community is recovering, but not yet stable. Volunteers come and go at Bumi Wadah, and a core group holds it all together.
I find the weather evil! I am not a fan of heat and humidity, and the Philippine Islands is a master of those characteristics. I am thankful the clinic has a lot of fans, including in my room. I also discovered a wonderful towel that cools when wet, and provides hours of relief. It works as well here as it does in Africa.
I love attending births. I am happy that the women here are gracious to a foreigner and let me join them. Many of the women are much smaller than the women I work with in Sierra Leone. And I have know surpassed my record for attending a short woman- she is 4'8" and slim-hipped. This pregnancy is her third, so I had few concerns. And she did well, having her baby in a business-like way, and heading home 24 hours later to her family.
I do feel vindicated however when I remember some of the medical texts that refer to women's bodies as a somehow defective version of men's bodies, and not really very well suited for giving birth. When I see women taking their body and ability as normal, and doing their job, I feel good.
I miss my family and the beautiful north coast of California. And I am grateful for this experience on a beautiful island with colleagues who are funny and smart, serving women who unselfconsciously are women.