Were saving lives and changing lives every day

Experience Sam's story–
in her own words

I joined MSF because I want to share my skills and make a difference to the lives of women and babies by providing quality care for free in places where it otherwise doesn't exist–Sam Perkins, 29, midwife, Democratic Republic of Congo

See how Sam's expertise saves thousands of lives

Sam Perkins, midwife delivering babies in the Congo
  • > 14-hour shifts in up to 40°C
  • > 15 births each day
  • > More than London’s Royal Free Hospital

Sam's first MSF posting at age 27

Nothing prepares you for your first posting.

Sam finished a 4-year midwifery degree and after several years working in the NHS, spent a year working in the remote Australian Outback, where deaths among Indigenous babies were alarmingly high. A year later, Sam applied to MSF, who posted her to a camp for displaced people in Uganda.

“We saw 5,000 pregnant women in nine months, some walking in sweltering heat for 4 hours to us with complications that prevented home birth. We treated cholera, tuberculosis and measles, along with a host of other deadly diseases.”

  • > 128 per 1,000 babies in Uganda die before their fifth birthday
  • > Malaria is the greatest child killer
  • > Over half the population is under 17 years

"Because of the care MSF provided miracles happened everyday.”

Second posting to the slums of Nairobi

Her next posting was to the notorious Kibera slum of Nairobi, where HIV affects around 6% of the population, one of the world’s worst epidemics. “The daily reality of slum life was harsh, with little running water or food, no understanding of sexual health and widespread rape."

The more I helped, the more I knew I could do.

  • > One million live in the Kibera slum
  • > Most live in 6′x6′ shanties
  • > 4-hour-long queues for fresh water

"Through treatment and education about mother-to-child transmission of HIV and sexual violence, we averted suffering or decline, and – time after time – death."

Latest posting to the Congo war zone

We can all profoundly affect other people’s lives.

Her latest posting was the biggest challenge: working in the maternity ward of a hospital in the Masisi conflict zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“There was a room of sick and premature babies, and up to 70 women with high-risk pregnancies waiting to give birth at any time. But the biggest challenge was learning a new language in five weeks — and using extremely technical terminology in split-second life and dead situations every day."

  • > 1 in 13 women in Congo dies during pregnancy/childbirth
  • > 927,000 have lost parents to HIV/AIDS
  • > 75% of people live in poverty

Sam met her fiance in Uganda on her first posting, and they worked as a couple on her third. She is now pregnant, and looking forward to a safe birth.

Sam delivering a baby

Discover more about Sam's work

“Let me tell you about my work in the Congo”

Last year in the Congo, Sam’s team delivered 3,451 babies – more than the Royal Free Hospital in London. She also dealt with cholera, malaria, conflict, mental health issues and starvation.

See details of Sam's typical working day »

Sam at a glance

29

her age

4

years studying as a midwife

10

years working as a midwife

3

years delivering for MSF

3

missions with MSF

9

months delivering in the Congo

15

daily births thanks to Sam

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