MINDANAWON ABROAD: SNIPPETS OF LIFE IN SYDNEY Babies and ICE

It's been a month since I have first witnessed a baby being born. I couldn't explain how I felt when I saw the baby, but the next few hours and days were most exhausting.

I couldn't imagine how mothers who gave birth naturally would have felt after that experience of being a support person. I could not identify with them because I had my daughter by caesarean section. So it was indeed a privilege to be part of a natural delivery process with two other support people around her and a professional midwife to assist.

The ease and security of giving birth in a fully-equipped birth centre and hospital could not stop me from thinking about women in less fortunate countries where they have to rely on local villagers who are qualified to assist births, but are a long way off from hospitals. It brings to mind countries like China, Bangladesh and the Philippines where traditional birth attendants, local health workers or midwives assist women in giving birth at home. However, with the UN's emphasis on one of the Millennium Development Goals of lowering infant and maternal mortality rate, these countries are now providing women the opportunity to have health workers assist them and bring them to hospitals for safer births.

The happiness I witnessed that day was toned down by disbelief and anger when I saw a documentary on "Where is Iraq's billions" featured in one of our local TV stations. It was a story on Iraq and how money was taken out of the country. The money was supposed to equip hospitals, provide food and basic services to its people. What really angered me was watching twins born prematurely and being placed in an incubator which was not working properly.

The babies were barely clothed. Their cannulas were bigger than their hands. These babies' father had to go to the black market to get Vitamin K, which is basic in most hospitals and the mother was not strong enough to accept what was happening to their twins. It was most disturbing when both babies died because the hospital was not fully equipped and the medical personnel could not do anything about it.

These are the harsh realities of life women face in countries such as Iraq where basic social services are neglected and where people's welfare is not a priority. It is a stark contrast to the life and experience of women in countries like Australia.

It has also been three weeks since Noellin started High School. We are now all settling into a routine. It is quite unnerving and challenging to say the least, but we are all coping. Watching Noellin and her friends now makes me nostalgic about the times when she was just like Gemma – newly born and without a care in the world. Time has really gone so quick.

An aunt sent me an email advising me to use ICE which has left me wondering what ICE was all about. Carol suggested that I write about it and here it goes. Most of us have mobile numbers and with it comes a lot of our contacts and their numbers, but when an accident happens, people assisting become confused as to who to call because of a long list of contacts. Someone suggested to include a number to call In Case of Emergency (ICE). That email suggested that we all use ICE to associate the number of the person or persons to contact In Case of Emergency. It suggested further that we can have ICE1,

ICE2 or ICE3 corresponding with the people who need to be contacted when we are involved in emergency situations. This is just a suggestion, but I guess, it is a logical and practical one. If we start using the acronym, this will catch on and imagine the number of people we can put at ease when we start using ICE. So make sure that you have ICE in your mobile phone books not to cool it, but to ensure we can reach someone In Case of Emergency.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews' effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Eleanor M. Trinchera of Kidapawan City is a resident of Sydney and is now working with a non-government organization)

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