Our last day in Berbera provided another opportunity to train on the partograph in the hope that the midwives here will implement them on a regular basis. Our youngest trainee seems more prepared to swat flies than spot problems with progress in labour but we worked on her as best we could! After the training and a few more ultrasound scans we said our goodbyes and left with good memories of a small hospital with big ideas and generally well motivated personnel. The experience has encouraged us and made us hopeful that things can really change here.
A final visit to the fish restaurant and we said goodbye to Berbera and Sahil, passing the anti-FGM poster near the town boundary, and out onto the highroad to Hargeisa. There were a couple of hitches on the way, both related to the weather conditions I guess. Last night flash flooding had blocked the road with large deposits of sand where it passed through a wide wadi – our Landcruiser made good cross-country progress weaving in and out of other hopeful drivers in both directions until we reached the front of a queue of stationary trucks and made it across the river bed, our armed escort in close pursuit. Soon afterwards today’s hot weather seemed to get the better of our escort who took exception to some check-point guards who were slow to open a barrier. They attempted to force a way through and, when resisted, leaped from their vehicle with their assault rifles and began manhandling the guards who naturally produced their own weapons and refused to be pushed around. The barrier was half-open by now and we crept ahead leaving our hot-headed escort to chew what they had bitten off. Fortunately when they saw us drive on, they quickly followed.
As the road climbed towards the high plateau of Hargeisa we opened the windows and dispensed with the AC, glad to be in the cooler air. Cool is relative – it’s just less hot here – but it is good to be back after a very satisfactory visit. Maansoor hotel ice cream machine was operational and we took advantage of the cold dessert without waiting for mealtime. Slurp while the ices are cold. The wonderful Diamond Jubilee pageant was being screened by the BBC World Service bringing us closer to the celebrations and to the prospect of returning home. We are ready.
Tomorrow we wrap up with certificates and hand-outs for the course participants, hand-over of equipment to the THET office and then to the airport, the latter closed to commercial traffic during work to extend and upgrade the runways and buildings but still available to the small planes used by the EC humanitarian flights. Hence to Nairobi and the night flight to London Heathrow. We shall arrive God willing as the festivities draw to a close – hopefully there will still be a rail service to Chester and transport home. Whatever the weather.