Penny Kipalya’s desire to become a midwife awakened in the labour ward at Enga Catholic Health Service where she was working as a General Nurse. “I see mothers coming to the hospital to give birth with complications that may have been prevented with earlier and better treatment. I wanted to become a midwife so I could have the knowledge to help them,” she says.

With the support of an Australia Awards PNG Scholarship, Penny obtained a Bachelor of Midwifery from the University of Goroka in 2019. Not only did it advance Penny’s career, but her qualification also paved the way for her to join the public service after working as a nurse with a non-governmental organisation for ten years.

“The scholarship is such a great pleasure that I can’t believe it. It provides everything, and I was really happy and enjoyed my study. Australia Awards PNG was closely monitoring us to gain knowledge and continue our practises. It supported us with updated information, even now; they can’t leave us,” Penny proudly says.

Now, working in the labour ward of the Enga General Hospital, where 20 to 25 mothers come to give birth each day, Penny’s most joyful moments are when she helps mothers give birth safely. “I am satisfied at the end because I know that my practice is okay,” she says.

For Penny, being a midwife is more than just working in the labour ward. It is also about reaching out to the communities and educating them on sexual and reproductive health and family planning. “They need to know the basics and the services that we offer at the facility. This creates a pathway for them to come,” she says.

Penny actively participated in conducting community-based awareness on sexual and reproductive health and family planning. She also took part in awareness programs on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies targeting schools and young people in the communities.

Apart from conducting awareness campaigns, Penny’s outreach team came up with a tactic that attracts husbands to come with their wives for antenatal consultation and during labour and delivery. She says, “When women come with their husbands, we give them gifts, so they feel motivated to come back in for their next pregnancy. This makes more mothers come with their husbands.”

Beyond practicing as a midwife, Penny is also making use of the trauma counselling skills that she learned from a workshop hosted by the PNG Australia Awards Alumni. She says that some mothers come to the hospital with family problems that psychologically affect them when giving birth. “I used this skill to counsel and help them.”

She also uses her knowledge to counsel her colleagues when they have family problems or lose their loved ones. “This skill is a bonus from the Australia Awards PNG Scholarship.”

“I encourage my colleagues, especially nurses, to apply for the Australia Awards PNG Scholarship. It is the best scholarship that we could get. It supported me to do my practice and I am really pleased with it.”