Zani Prinsloo is working long hours in war zones and living conditions that offer little privacy just to bring maternal health care Picture: Supply

Working long hours in war zones and living conditions that offer little privacy just to bring maternal health care to vulnerable women who are in need is no child's play.

This is exactly the life of Zani Prinsloo - a midwife trainer who works for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders. 
For the past few months this Joburg-based health worker has been working in Beirut - one of the countries that have been wrecked by political instability over the years and the seven-year war in neighbouring Syria. 

Since the start of the Syrian war, around a million refugees have fled into Lebanon. In Beirut, camps that have housed Palestinian refugees for decades now house the more recently displaced Syrians. 

Prinsloo travels to different countries every month to train midwives and healthcare staff in sexual and reproductive health and field support to midwives and the teams on project level. 
Healthcare services are so inadequate in some regions that she visits that at times she has to do specialised training such as sexual violence and advanced life support obstetrics from remote areas such and open fields and camps.
Women like Prinsloo are enjoying attention this month as South Africa recognises August as Women's Month and acknowledges the role played by women in society.
Speaking from Beirut Prinsloo said working in war-torn countries has taught her to "adapt to tough conditions, to have resilience, and to understand that people don't ask for war".

"As a health worker you come to realise that you don't have much of a choice than to provide your best help. We do not want women and their newborns to die... and I will go to extremes to assist them to safely deliver their babies," said Prinsloo.
When out on a mission Prinsloo says health workers have to understand when their help is limited. 

"I believe that I can't change their past or their future, but at least in the now I can give them the best they deserve. We do know what will happen when they walk out from our doors, no one knows what new challenges they will face. That is the hard part to learn about your own limits.”
Apart from being a medical professional, Prinsloo says she is a small town girl who loves makeup and always had a dream to see and explore the world and experience different cultures.

Despite her bubbly personality, she admits that working in war-ravaged communities can be taxing emotionally.
"There are times where I just feel frustrated and cry...feel lost and helpless at times." 
When such times come, Prinsloo says the best way to survive is to tune her mind to things that make her laugh, such as saving tiny babies that get discharged following long hospitalisation and treatment.

“So one has to find balance between the good and the lesser good," she adds.
She admits that working in war zones and countries wit poor health indicators has changed her outlook of life.
“There are times when our resources are exhausted and we have nothing more to offer. It makes one sad, and leaves you with feelings of hopelessness. But I know that through the work I do my passion became my purpose, To wake up and do good has taught me to see good in small things and be more appreciative in life, and to know the difference between a want and need,” she said.

As much as it is difficult to work in war-torn regions, she admits that there's more rewards at the end.
“When your patients hug you, or name a baby after you, sharing meals and talking about women stuff is heart-warming. It makes one realise that we are all humans in the end inspite of religion, race, and political affiliations," she said.