VBA training April 2017

The CFK VBA Training Team: Mid-wives Shea Caplice, Jacqui Andrews, Doug Lawton, Vanessa Palfreeman, Mary Jonmundsson, Jenni and Jodi Lawton

What a resounding SUCCESS!!!


Our group of six women including Vanessa Palfreeman, Mary Jonmudsson, Jodi Lawton, Jenni Lawton, and two midwife educators from Royal Hospital for Women (Randwick), Shea Caplice and Jacqui Andrews, went to Kiriwina, PNG, for a week at the end of April, to run a short but intense training workshop in safe birthing training for the Village Birth Attendants (VBAs).

We expected up to 80 VBAs to turn up for the week, however 170 VBA’s from the main and surrounding islands arrived and registered for the workshop. The attendees were all supported and encouraged by their families to take the week off from their usual village duties, and participated in the workshop with great gusto! Many of the attendees came from quite remote areas, and the infants school close by was closed for the week to provide much needed accommodation for them. Caring for Kiriwina also contributed towards food and refreshments for the attendees to help support such a large group.

Most of the CFK VBA Training Participants

The women voiced their desperation for more knowledge and training, and currently feel very isolated and forgotten. We benefited immensely from our association with the Lawton family’s previous work on Kiriwina, and because of that association and our ongoing friendship with the Kiriwinans we were provided with incredible Trobriand hospitality and energy to provide this essential service to the wonderful women who are the Kiriwinan Village Birth Attendants.

The workshop group sessions, these brilliant Educators by combining roll plays and quizzes created the optimum learning environment for the participants during the intensive 4 days of training.

Great credit is due to the midwife educators Shea Caplice and Jacqui Andrews, who prepared and delivered the training with much professionalism and love. It also cannot be understated how difficult it can be for dim dims to be dropped into the thick of a densely populated Kiriwinan village, to hit the ground running, deliver the short and intense program, and at the same time deal with such different cultural and environmental issues. The group were utterly exhausted by the time they stumbled out of the plane in Sydney!
Shea’s post on Instagram seems to sum up their sentiments:

“I have put photos on Instagram and people think we have been in “paradise”. Ha well we
know what we know now. We did extremely well and I really feel what we taught does not
undermine parallels in the national strategy in fact we were onto it with reinforcing safe
community care in a remote rural area and encouraging ongoing grassroots women’s groups
in the respective communities. Two majorly effective strategies in reducing perinatal deaths
so in short “we done good” and Jacqui and I could not have done it without the back up. I
have felt completely exhausted and recovery seems slow but improving each day. Shea
Caplice, midwife educator.

Our amazing Mid-wives: Shea Caplice and Jacqui Andrews

Much planning went into this project. The trip was fully funded through donations including those gratefully received from our donors, without which this would not have been possible. This valuable trip has highlighted the growing need for this work on Kiriwina and surrounding islands. While we will soon be meeting to evaluate the recent project and work out what’s next, Caring for Kiriwina continues to raise funds for the ongoing supply, delivery of birthing kits and continued training.

Thanks again to all our donors for your ongoing support!

Our visit to the local Health Care Centre



For the training program included:

  • Air travel to and from Kiriwina, including a required overnight stay in Port Moresby each way
  • Provision of insurances and relevant vaccinations for the Australian volunteers
  • Accommodation & food for the trainers while implementing the program
  • Provisions and refreshments for some Kiriwinan trainees to enable them to attend
  • Assistance with travel for some trainees not local to the training location, without which they could not attend
  • Supply of educational materials and birthing kits
  • Coordination of local Caring for Kiriwina training assistance to help with translation and liaison with the trainees
  • Resolution of appropriate visas required for entry into PNG
  • Liaison with Village leaders to seek formal acceptance of the training program in their Village
  • Liaison with the local health clinic at Losuia to ensure compatibility with existing birthing protocols
    • In this training, will identify team leaders from each circuit and an overall coordinator where we can schedule quarterly meetings and reporting from various circuits so we know the progress and status of the work carried out. The team leaders will work closely with the Losuia Health Centre.
    • We have created three buckets of supplies to remain on the island containing the more expensive emergency care items at a central distribution point.
    • Each VHV will receive a silk bag with birthing kit and a lanyard with three laminated (water proof) tags containing a list of the Emergency practices for varies birth eventualities and what to do. These have been printed in both English and translated into Kiriwinan.

VHV’s Training Program Schedule 2017

Monday April 24th


Meet with interpreters and key people and Health Workers / Nurses / Midwives / Doctors from the Losuia clinic to discuss:

Overview of what is happening and how things are done in Kiriwina
The relationships and communication with VHVs and any concerns
The referral process
Emergency processes
Equipment available

Tuesday April 25th

Get to know each other
Normal pregnancy and birth

Wednesday April 26th

Labour  – revising what is normal

  • warning signs and what to do

Thursday April 27th

Birth –Warning signs and what to do

  • Different births
  • Bleeding
  • Baby not breathing

Friday April 28th

After the birth  – postnatal care of the woman

  • Postnatal feelings
  • Staying healthy
  • Baby
  • Importance of skin to skin
  • Breastfeeding
  • Behaviour
  • Baby safety

Caring for Kiriwina has thankfully received enough funds to make this dream reality,  any additional funding will still be used for the above program.   Your generous donation will ensure the quality of maternity care services is improved which we know saves lives.  If you can donate, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Please CLICK HERE to go to our donations shop where you could use PayPal or Credit Card.

Manly Daily article 23/2/2017

Shea Caprice (midwife educator) Vanessa Palfreeman and Jodi Lawton are part of the Australian Contingent heading for Kiriwina on April 22nd. Photo courtesy of the Many Daily Picture: Phillip Rogers