Q+A with Kate Oats, Australian Midwife + Healthcare Activist

After reading about fellow midwife and friend Ellen Burne, the lovely Kate Oats introduced herself to us – and girl, are we glad she did! Kate is a giver – she is not only a midwife, she is an active member of Gandharba Health Projects, which supports health initiatives in Nepal. GHP is dedicated to improving the lives of Nepalese people, providing sustainable ways for them to help themselves, improve their lives and enhance access to health services. Kate is a joyful, generous person and we’re so inspired by her story. 

The Basics

  • Age: 26
  • Location: Adelaide, Australia
  • Field of Interest: Traveling the world, global charity work, midwifery, yoga
  • What Inspired You Today? Hearing the wonderful news that a dear friend of mine just birthed her beautiful baby in the comfort of her own home, supported by her partner and midwives. How amazing is that!?
  • What’s Your Favorite Thing About Yourself? That I actually love my job. I love being a midwife and am so passionate about it. How can something be ‘work’ when you truly enjoy doing it?

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Questions + Answers

For our readers who may not know, could you provide a little bit of information about midwifery and why it’s such an important option for women?

In Australia midwifery care is available to every woman in all stages of her pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey. We have varying options that a woman can choose depending on if her pregnancy is low-risk or high-risk and what kind of care she would like to have. We have hospital care in a joint partnership between Obstetricians and midwives, midwife run birth centers and midwifery group practices whom can care for both high risk women in the hospital and offer home visits and home birth if the woman is low risk. We have independent midwives practicing within the hospital setting and also independent midwives who offer long-term postnatal support in the home.

Research shows that women who birth with a known midwife are more likely to have:

  • A normal birth
  • Less complications and interventions
  • A more positive experience of labor and birth
  • More satisfaction with her maternity care
  • Less need for epidurals and pain relief in labor
  • Successful breastfeeding of her baby
  • A healthy baby at full pregnancy term
  • Reduced costs for the health care system

With this evidence, how could you not choose midwifery care?

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Surely you’ve had some incredible experiences helping welcome new lives into this world. Could you share one of your favorite memories, and why you love your job?

Every day gives wonderful experiences and memories its impossible to choose just one! It’s an honor to be involved with these beautiful families as they go through such a life-changing event and welcome their baby into the world. I feel so privileged that these women and families entrust me with their health and safety and that of their newborn baby. To me, building a rapport with these women is the most special part of being a midwife, being truly ‘with woman’.

The term midwife is derived from Middle English and Old English, ‘mid’ = with and ‘wif’ = woman.

Like one of our other muses, Shelby Welinder, you’re an active advocate for the Nepalese people. You’re one of the leaders of a new initiative, the Gandharba Health Projects, which conducts health camps for the Gandharba community. Could you explain why it’s so necessary in this community?

The Gandharba people are a beautiful community living within the Himalayan Mountains, once well known as talented musicians and held in high esteem as messengers for the royal family, using a uniquely made musical instrument to deliver messages throughout communities within Nepal. Sadly, with the introduction of technology and new ways of governance the Gandharba people have lost this role and recognition.

The Gandharba community, among so many others in Nepal, live in isolated villages without electricity, running water and sanitation as we know it. Their access to health care is minimal. Simple things like health education and social support can do wonders. Our aim, as Gandharba Health Projects, is to provide sustainable ways for these people to help themselves and improve their lives for the long term.

Some of the ways we are doing this is by:

  • Sponsoring a young Nepalese woman to become a nurse in her community by paying for her University degree, purchasing her a laptop and the necessary supplies she needs to complete her studies.
  • Sponsoring students to complete schooling and attend their exams – knowledge is power.
  • Providing health camps to teach basic hygiene and sanitation, wound care, safe birthing skills and safe sex/contraceptive education among other needs which the community asks for.
  • Providing Days for Girls kits and teaching women to make their own sanitary kits giving girls the power to continue to go to school when they have their menstrual cycle and for daily life to continue.
  • Providing earthquake relief by giving essential food, water, clothing, shelter and funding directly to affected people with our hands on team in Nepal.
  • Aiding the communities to improve their sanitation and health by constructing a tap for the village, ways to dry dishes and construct vegetable gardens – sustainable projects.
  • Aiding an orphanage with rebuilding costs after the earthquake devastated a large portion of its buildings.

It’s clear that you’re naturally a giver, based on your philanthropic work and your career. Where do you get your generosity? Was it natural or learned?

This one is difficult! I don’t think of myself as being a giver…I just think I’m normal. Is this not what anyone would do? There is a tremendous happiness in making others happy.

As soon as I met the amazing and inspiring Emily Young, who was then in the process of founding Gandharba Health Projects, I was instantly on board and extremely passionate about such a selfless cause. How could someone not want to get behind such a brilliant way to help people?

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What’s the most beautiful element of working and contributing to the Nepalese community?

Seeing smiles like these:

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Image by Bri Davis.
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Image by Bri Davis.

Making one person smile can change the world, maybe not the whole world, but their world.

For people who may be considering starting a non-profit or getting involved in philanthropic work, could you share a lesson you learned about how to handle the more difficult aspects of that line of work?

Sometimes not-for-profit work can be discouraging as no one may be willing to give that day or it may feel like the problems are too huge to change. But that is when you just have to remember that every little bit counts. Just a few dollars to us is a whole days worth of food for some.

Our lives are such a luxury when compared with what others have to face. It’s easy to get caught up in our own though, and taking a step back and seeing with a different perspective does wonders.

Traveling and seeing for yourself how others live is so important. Experiencing different cultures and changing our perspectives enables us to grow into more educated, sensitive and giving people. Getting involved in a health camp in Nepal is a wonderful way to open your eyes and see first hand the changes that you can make in the world.

Thank you for reading and I hope this has piqued your interest in what we do and have sparked you all to become involved in aiding this beautiful community. I am heading over to Nepal in December and January for our next health camp. Looking forward to sharing our updates with the BYOM community!

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Who inspires you?

  • Emily Young: founder of Gandharba Health Projects Adelaide. Emily is absolutely amazing; the most selfless, generous and determind person that I know. She left the comforts of her life in Adelaide and her coveted career position to move solo to Nepal to immerse herself in helping communities firsthand. She has such an infectious passion for her cause that it is impossible not to be swept up in her inspiring desires to help change the world.
  • Tiffany Stuckey: Tiffany has been a dear friend of mine for an entire decade, who since our teenage years, has told me her dreams of creating her own fashion label . Low and behold, she has now achieved it! Millicent Elizabeth has been born and is the epitome of clean, modern and understated elegance. All her garments are made by hand in Adelaide, Australia with exquisite natural fibres. She is absolute inspiration, turning her lifelong dream into a reality. You can explore her range right here: http://www.millicentelizabeth.com
+ Inspired by Kate’s Story? Know of Any Young Women We Should Feature Who Are Doing Incredible Work in the Sciences or in Non-Profits? Tell Us About Them!
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2 Comments Add yours

  1. smvenzel says:

    it is so wonderful to see an organization like the gandharba health project trying to improve but not invade the lifestyle of an indigenous culture. and kate has a beautiful way with words.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kinsey lane says:

    Thank you, Stacey. You do, too! 🙂

    Like

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