Esther Madudu, a midwife trained by Amref Health Africa, works at the Atirir Health Center in Katine, Uganda and attends to three or four deliveries each day. She calls them blessings.
"I am privileged to see a life join this earth every other day, although my heart breaks to watch mothers go through such agonizing pain. Not so much the agony of giving birth, but the agony of giving birth under very harsh conditions.
"There are days I have to run long distances to meet mothers who cannot make it to the health center, only to find they have already delivered. Once I found a woman giving birth next to a swamp because she couldn't walk any further. The baby's head was out and because she was so close to the water, she almost drowned the baby. It was a terrifying sight and no woman should ever have to go through that."
Although she lives with her family at the Atirir Health Center staff quarters, Esther has to spend more than 13 hours every day at the health center. "I am always here Monday to Monday, only getting a day off occasionally. Deliveries are unexpected and I have to rush whenever and wherever I am needed."
Esther sees clients every half hour for the entire day, only being interrupted by patients who have gone into labor. During her brief breaks, Esther rushes to the staff quarters to feed her baby. "Our work can be very challenging. We are too few to cope with the demand. A health center such as this should have at least six midwives. Yet there are only three of us interchanging between day and night shifts."