This coming January I will be traveling to Tanzania for about 2 weeks to humbly serve women in a rural birth clinic as a birth doula. My goal is to raise $3,500 to cover the cost of the trip, flight, vaccines and volunteer visa. It has always been difficult for me to reach out and ask friends and family for financial support, but I can use all the help and prayers I can get to raise money for this amazing opportunity to serve women!
Tanzania is a country in eastern Africa, south of Kenya and bordering the Indian Ocean. It’s home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater. It is also known for its “Big 5” game (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo) and huge annual migration of herds of zebras and wildebeests.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel to Tanzania in January and that I was chosen to be one of six doulas selected for this trip. I will be traveling with my friends Gabby and Charlotte who have set up the doula retreat called “Wombs of the World: Women Serving Women.” Here is the link if you would like to learn more about the trip and see pictures of their time spent there last January: www.wombsoftheworld.com
My time in Tanzania will allow me to serve as a doula for the women of Tanzania in a birth clinic, as well as help me gain experience in the birth setting as a doula.
The purpose of this trip is to provide birth doula support to women in two different birth clinics in Tanzania, working directly with the women and their babies. My intention is to learn from the beauty, resiliency, and cultural differences in the birth setting; not trying to replace African Birth Culture in any way. I am also very aware of the “white savior complex” within volunteerism in our society, especially in regards to traveling to Africa. When Gabby and Charlotte traveled to the same clinics last January, the pregnant women, along with the doctors, nurses, and midwives in Tanzania were beyond warm, excited, and accepting to welcome them as doulas. One of the wonderful things about serving on this trip is that we will be with the women for their entire birthing process; from labor to birth to a couple days postpartum with their babies; we won’t be leaving the country only halfway done with a project, a build, or program.
I am so passionate about this trip. About using my heart and hands to serve the women of Tanzania with humility, love and compassion. About being able to witness the strength and beauty involved in welcoming new life into the world. About giving women everywhere the emotional and physical support they want, to feel not only safe during and after childbirth, but empowered and loved while giving birth.
I am so excited to start my doula practice by gaining immeasurable hands-on experience during labor and delivery in a foreign setting, to connect, share, and form relationships with five other doulas from around the world, and to be pushed out of my comfort zone and immersed into the beauty of another culture.
Some of you may be asking: What even is a doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “woman who serves,” but today refers to professional labor support. In many ancient and current cultures around the world, a woman has been known to stay by the birthing woman’s side throughout the entire birth process. “A birth doula provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible” (DONA ). Doulas are different from midwives, obstetricians, or nurses in that we do not provide medical care, but work alongside the medical team to support the mother. A doula provides women with evidence based information, without judgement or opinions, that allows them to make their own informed choices about what is best for them and their babies. Birth doulas hold space for mothers to have a safe, positively memorable and empowering birth experience. In addition to providing emotional and physical support to the mother, there is significant evidence-based research stating the benefits to both the mother and baby having a doula. Here is an infographic showing the proven benefits of having a doula attend births.
A doula can help bring back sacredness, gentleness, comfort, love, and empowerment back into the birth culture. This is important to me because I believe birth is sacred and is one of the most significant transitions in a woman’s life; not only is there the birth of a baby but the birth of a mother. I believe it is important to allow women to feel supported and heard during pregnancy and birth while making sure all of their emotional and physical needs are being met. I believe women in all cultures are beautiful, their voices are powerful, their intuition is wise, and they deserve to feel empowered over owning their birthing process.
The $3,500 includes all of my needs (domestic and international flight, housing to stay with the other doulas from around the world joining me for the retreat, food, transportation, activities, volunteer visa in Tanzania and vaccines beforehand in Asheville.) So all of the money will be put to good use! I need to have 100% of my funds by January 1st. I am aware that $3,500 is a lot of money and sounds overwhelming to try and fundraise, but I feel confident I can raise it all with the help of friends, family, and people who care. If 70 people give $50, I will have all that I need, but donations smaller or larger or any amount are greatly appreciated!
I can’t thank you enough ahead of time for all of your thoughts, prayers, and donations that go into making this trip possible.
I truly feel like this type of work is the cry of my heart and the work that God has called me to pursue. I plan to start birth doula work in Asheville when I return at the end of January-- so if there are any mamas near Asheville expecting a baby in the new year who are seeking labor support, I would love to connect with you!
Thank you so much for reading and thank you ahead of time for all of your thoughts, prayers, love, support, and donations to make this trip possible! Please feel free to reach out and message me if you have any questions or want to hear more about my trip!
Lots of love and gratitude,
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