I truly believe that God is the designer of our lives. He creates opportunities for us that we never even saw coming. This is a post about one such opportunity. Since moving to Portland, I have been blessed to become a part of an amazing network of friends and professional connections. One of my friends tagged me in a post on Facebook about several community wellness events going on in October. (Including my yoga classes-one thing I will say about Portland is that while the black community is small, they support each other!) There was also information about the International Center for Traditional Childbearing's 9th Black Midwives and Healers Conference. I have wanted to be a doula for a long time, so I decided to look into it. And the fact that Erykah Badu was going to be the keynote speaker made it that much more enticing! Long story short, I went to ICTC's website and found that there were scholarships available to attend, so I applied...and was awarded one! I also saw that the conference was kicking off with a yoga session, so I applied...and was selected! Everything just literally fell in to place, bam, bam, bam. I knew it was definitely God orchestrating ...I was super excited!
I come from a long line of "barefoot doctors" in North Carolina. Using traditional healing practices, they were present at every birth, every death, at the onset of every sickness, using herbs and food to heal. This legacy is what lead to my mother creating her business, Needful Things All Natural Home and Body Care, using the things that God has placed on Earth to heal ourselves and our communities.
I saw my first birth at age 7, watching my beautiful older cousin give birth to her son. Having babies in my family is truly a spectator sport-moms, dads, cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents, kids-we're all in the room praying, loving, encouraging and supporting that baby out! The decision to carry on the legacy of my ancestors officially as a doula was one based upon my continued desire to share holistic health and wellness with our communities.
Fast forward to October 9th, 2015 and the start of the conference...
Yoga is about the only thing that will get me up at 5am happily...I was blessed to lead the session that kicked off the conference with some beautifully amazing women in attendance.
The conference also kicked off with an amazing speech from Ms. Erykah Badu herself. She is the ICTC's spokesperson, and we were blessed with not only a speech, but a new spoken word piece and a song! Possibly the best part of this video is seeing Mrs. Shafia Monroe, ICTC founder and president, joyfully jamming next to Erykah. Check out the video below:
During the conference there were breakout sessions which included Preventing Preterm Labor, Afro-Caribbean Birth Rituals, Herbs for Pregnancy and Childbirth and Addressing Birth Disparities at the Root. We laughed, we cried, we loved and encouraged. We also heard the story of Liceth, an Afro-Colombian traditional midwife from South America who traveled all the way to Portland to participate in the conference. You can hear her story and more about her work in Colombia in the video below.
I am really excited to be beginning doula training with ICTC in December here in Portland, and will be sharing more about what was discussed at the conference in future posts. You can visit ICTC's website and find out more about their mission and trainings, and to donate to assist in the work that they do.