With SIX DAYS left before I leave, I have been thinking about the Dominican and Haitian women I will be serving. I am thinking about our similarities more than our differences… not just as women, but as women of African descent.
I know all do not acknowledge African heritage across the island, none the less, there are those who do. And I also acknowledge that there is no difference between those Africans that were sent to Hispaniola and those sent to mainland North America.
In an effort to break their wills and ensure dependency of the enslaved on their oppressors, it is well known that one of the techniques used to weaken familial bonds and resistance from enslaved Africans was to split up families and sell them in different places. That means that the greatest difference between myself and the women I will be serving is where our ancestors were disembarked… where they got off the boat.
Across the island, there are areas where, similar to the U.S. mainland, there is a variation of shades of complexions. In the case of Hispaniola, the delineations in hues and shades can be seen in the stark contrast between the people of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Regardless of how these separations are made in different countries based on historical political context, culture, language, etc., I still see the commonalities. And for those who are experiencing poverty and economic depravity… I am reminded that we are (literally) the same people even in our diversity.
For me, this why your financial support is so meaningful and important. You are helping me reach out to support family during “the most powerful and most vulnerable” time in these women’s lives – CHILDBIRTH.
You can contribute to this work here –> http://www.drdoula.com/dr2017-donation1.html
Here is some additional information about the work I will be doing while in the Dominican Republic.
I will be a part of a team of nine birth professionals volunteering at Hospital Presidente Estrella Ureña in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. I and three other women will be working the night shift from 11pm – 7am shift each day.
The conditions and the treatment the women receive at the hospital is below what most would consider unacceptable. The moms and newborns have only what they walk in with unless their families provide for them. We will seek to offer material comforts through the provision of sheets for the beds, water, and some ‘luxury’ items as gifts for mom and baby. These luxury items will include a small bar of soap, underwear, sanitary pads, and a toothbrush for the mothers; and a onesie, socks, a receiving blanket and a few diapers for the newborns.
Both the mothers and their newborns are often treated in ways that many would consider inhumane. The women deliver in a room with 10 other beds, sometimes two women to a cot. They birth in their street clothes, on a plastic bed, without food or water, and with no loved ones or support at their side; and they may be separated from their babies for up to 24 hours. We will be working around the clock shifts to bring comfort, support, and love to these women and babies.
Continued blessings, love, peace and light for your path.