The trip fully widened my world view of culture, healthcare and the heritage of Bangladesh, showing me the necessity of the existence of initiatives like Maa. The team made me feel right at home and I felt Bengali!’

Ayo Khalil

JourneyMaa 2018 Volunteer, Maa

I initially wanted to join the JourneyMaa team to learn more about Bangladeshi culture itself, and the maternal healthcare issues faced by those people who Maa would be responsible for treating – those who do not have the same access to maternal healthcare we in the U.K. appreciate. Within the JourneyMaa team, I worked as one of the volunteers at the Maa health camps, where I was responsible for doing checks on pregnant women to ensure they were perfectly healthy, and to ensure their pregnancies were progressing smoothly. However, I also got involved with some fun with the locals – one of the most memorable moments of my JourneyMaa experience was actually having my first ever surgery, as I accidentally ended up with mud in my foot from playing some intense football sessions with the village children!

I met a lot of inspirational mothers and amazing people in Bangladesh during JourneyMaa, however Dr Waqar, the Director of Maa Bangaldesh, left the greatest impression on me during and after the trip itself. Dr Waqar is responsible for leading the Bangladeshi team of JourneyMaa, and oversees the healthcare provided by Bangladeshi healthcare professionals and Maa. His work ethic and immense care for the JourneyMaa project, all those involved, and the mothers, was truly inspiring.

During my stay at Bangladesh, I learnt a lot about Bangladeshi people, the culture, and heritage, and I also enjoyed that aspect of JourneyMaa. It really surpassed my expectations in many ways, and I was made to feel truly Bengali during my time there. Something I was very surprised to find out about Bangladesh was the standard of maternal healthcare. Before my JourneyMaa, I had assumed maternal healthcare would exist in some capacity, so I wasn’t initially prepared for the lack of maternal healthcare at first – in the U.K., we’re very fortunate that we never really have to think about access to healthcare since it’s so readily available. Other mothers around the world are not as fortunate to have the finances, medical professionals, or facilities easily accessible to discuss their concerns, have regular check-ups, or ensure their wellbeing, and this was emphasised by my experience in Bangladesh.

Maa is doing truly great, important work on improving maternal healthcare, and JourneyMaa is a wonderful initiative which is highly necessary in Bangladesh, and other resource-poor settings. I’d highly recommend anyone thinking about applying to JourneyMaa 2019 to apply wholeheartedly and be confident and genuine throughout the application process. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed all of JourneyMaa, and the experience is absolutely one I would do all over again – I enjoyed being in Bangladesh, treating mothers, and working within a sincerely dedicated team. It’s a journey I definitely won’t forget.