Archive | ILCA-WABA Fellows

Reflections from the 2014 ILCA WABA Fellow, Geraldine Cahill

The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) are pleased to once again jointly sponsor the exciting opportunity for a Fellowship to travel and work with WABA on outreach and advocacy projects at their headquarters in Penang, Malaysia. ILCA has designated this annual Fellowship as the Chris Mulford WABA ILCA Fellowship. Chris had been an ILCA member and helped to guide the birth and growth of the profession with a gentle spirit and wise leadership. Chris first joined WABA in 1996 at the first WABA Global Forum in Bangkok and became a long term volunteer for WABA. She worked mainly to support working women to breastfeed globally. She also paved the way for the first WABA‐ILCA Fellowship, in 2007. At Lactation Matters, we are proud to highlight this post, by Geraldine Cahill, a recent fellow, about her experiences in Malaysia with WABA.

For more information about applying to become a Fellow, please see this document. The deadline for applications is 16 February 2015. 

By Geraldine Cahill, IBCLC, BAced., Dip.ED (Antenatal)

I am the 2014 Chris Mulford WABA/ILCA Fellow. As a part of the fellowship, I recently traveled to Penang, Malaysia, and I would like to share about my time with the WABA staff. Hopefully, my experience might encourage some of you to consider this opportunity in the future.

I applied for the fellowship in September 2013 and was told that I had been chosen in November. I felt so honoured and worried whether I would actually be able to do justice to the work that I was going to be asked to do.

I set off for Malaysia at the very end of May, where I was met at at the airport and was taken to the wonderful apartment I would be staying in for the duration. This apartment was in the centre of the city at Penang Times Square. This new development is situated on the grounds of an old tin mine and smelting works. A McDonald’s occupies the building next door, which was the old colonial home of the owner and manager of the smelting works! My apartment would be shared, for part of the time, with Jerusalem Bereket, a young college intern from Jacksonville, Florida. The apartment had a swimming pool and it was glorious to come back from work most days and head to the pool to cool off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPenang is an interesting place with a mix of East and West; tall modern skyscrapers and yet, when you walk around, you are very aware of the Eastern culture with temples and places of worship all around. I visited the several temples during my time in Malaysia including the Cave Temples in Ipoh on the mainland and Kek Lok Si and the Snake Temple in Penang itself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are three distinct cultural groups in Penang: Malay, Chinese, and Indian and they all contribute to the atmosphere, both in their dress and food. Most people in Penang speak 3-4 languages: Malay, Hokkien, and Tamil as well as English. They may not be fluent in all of them but would have a good working knowledge and be able to communicate across a number of languages. The food in Penang is pretty spectacular! I did not visit even one “fancy” restaurant but rather, I ate street food all the time. Even so, the food was of the highest standard everywhere I went.

The work was also an interesting mix. WABA is primarily an advocacy group and is, of course, the organiser of World Breastfeeding Week. The preparations for this were in full swing when I visited, with scores of resources being prepared to send to the some of the 179 countries which were holding events this year. WABA provides resource materials particularly to the very poorest countries in the world and they are a central hub for breastfeeding resources through their Breastfeeding Gateway on their website. They also have an E-map that shows where mother support groups exist all around the world. They also have an amazing photographic resource that is available from all the WBW events and which can be accessed by ILCA members by emailing peiching.chuah@waba.org.my.

In my time with WABA, I was able to work on fact sheets, help to monitor and update links on the Gateway site, did some preliminary work on a Toolkit/Checklist focusing on competencies in breastfeeding skills for healthcare workers and did some teaching for the local Mother support group by providing a 3-day workshop for their peer supporters. I generally helped out as needed in the office and also attended some Steering Committee meetings as an observer and and was able to present at the Health section of the WABA meeting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe six weeks I was in Penang was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. I enjoyed every part of it and loved meeting new people and becoming more aware of the invaluable work that WABA does worldwide. I hope you consider applying for this opportunity of a lifetime.

photos courtesy of Geraldine Cahill

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Reflections from a Former Chris Mulford ILCA-WABA Fellow

The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) are pleased to once again jointly sponsor the exciting opportunity for a Fellowship to travel and work with WABA on outreach and advocacy projects at their headquartersin Penang, Malaysia. ILCA has designated this annual Fellowship, the 6th to be awarded, as the Chris Mulford WABA ILCA Fellowship. Chris had been an ILCA member and helped to guide the birth and growth ofthe profession with a gentle spirit and wise leadership. Chris first joined WABA in 1996 at the first WABA Global Forum in Bangkok and became a long term volunteer for WABA. She worked mainly on Women and Work and Gender issues, bringing many achievements in supporting working women to breastfeed globally. She also paved the way for the first WABA‐ILCA Fellowship, in 2007, by being an exemplar of a Fellow. At Lactation Matters, we are proud to highlight this post, by Denise Fisher, a recent fellow, about her experiences in Malaysia with WABA.

For more information about applying to become a Fellow, please see this document. The deadline for applications is October 22, 2013.

By Denise Fisher AM, MMP, BN, IBCLC

In 2010, I was honored to be selected the Fellow to work with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) staff on several projects to support breastfeeding worldwide.

WABA’s home office is in Penang. Penang has been called the Jewel of the Orient, and is a beautiful island off the coast of Malaysia. Malaysia is a bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese, and other ethnic groups live together harmoniously. Because of this multiculturalism, this tropical paradise has also made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise, and even the Malays from Kuala Lumpur will tell you that Penang is the place for the best food.

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I was incredibly excited to be given the opportunity for this fellowship to not only continue my passion for promoting breastfeeding, but to do it in such a fascinating country.

Now, while I was working on a purely volunteer basis, I was aware that ILCA® and WABA had invested financially in my travel and accommodation, and my family and work colleagues back home were also putting in big-time for me in my absence; so while the temptation was to spend many hours on the beach, I was keen to be able to help WABA as much as possible. I was given several projects to complete. They select projects that are in line with your interests and skills, so needless to say mine were either internet-related or education-related.

The biggest project was the establishment of the Breastfeeding Gateway. We worked as a small team to establish it in time to be launched for WABA’s 20th birthday celebrations. The goal of this Gateway is to provide you with all the quality information about a topic in one easy collection.  For example, you may be asked at work to develop a policy on an HIV-positive mother breastfeeding. You only need click on the HIV heading in the Gateway to open a page with links to all the quality information sites relevant to HIV on the internet, saving you hours of searching. This is perfect for students too – so easy. I loved helping to create this resource – it was such fun to work together on it.

Another project I had was to go to one of the local hospitals and film a mother doing skin-to-skin care and have baby self-attach. As a midwife, the opportunity to visit the maternity unit was one not to be missed, and then we had the most delightful mother, with a very obliging newborn who did exactly what he was supposed to (phew!).

Presenting a full-day workshop for the medical and nursing staff at the local university was pretty nerve-wracking, but on the day it all went smoothly and everyone was happy. Doing a workshop for the mother support group that had been established by a previous WABA/ILCA Fellow was much less stressful and I got to cuddle babies!

IMG_6511It wasn’t all work though. The WABA staff welcomed me into their lives and social events, and were all very friendly. I still keep in contact with some of them. I’ve been told I have to come back when the durian are fruiting (!). A young intern from America was working there at the same time I was, so both being visitors to the island, we spent our leisure time exploring – most memorable was the bicycle tour through Georgetown (the capital of Penang). You think traffic is bad where you live – wait until you’ve ridden a bike through the streets of an Asian city! This was a history and food tour – we went to lots of the historical sites (Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and our guides (two lovely young men) told us about living and working in Penang now, and what it was like for their parents and grandparents. And then there was the food – they took us to each of the places that was famous for each of the dishes Penang is famous for – lucky we did lots of riding to work it off. Another tour I did with my son was a guided taxi ride around the island. It truly is a tropical paradise.

Since my time in Penang, I’ve become one of a select group who get to meet up at the ILCA conference and talk about the good old days – the former WABA/ILCA Fellows! And even better, this year ILCA decided to honor us with a special Fellow’s pin. Based on my wonderful experience which was so personally and professionally rewarding I’d encourage everyone to consider applying for this yearly fellowship. You won’t regret it.

IMG_6093Denise is a registered nurse, midwife practitioner, and lactation consultant who has worked in education for many years. In recognition of her services to health professional education, specifically in the mother and baby area, Denise was inducted as a Member of Australia last year. Recognizing that the internet was the way of the future, Denise and her team created Health e-Learning in 2000, followed by the very popular GOLD conferences, to provide breastfeeding education for lactation consultants and other health professionals. She is now the Director of Step2 Education, a company that delivers Baby Friendly education to hospitals worldwide. Denise is married to Steve and mother to 3 beautiful young adults – James, Nicholas and Laura, and lives outside a little country town in Queensland, Australia.

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