One of the women in the doula training works at a regional AIDS treatment center. I have recently accepted that I need to devote more of my education time to AIDS, and since I have spent the last month reading The Band Played On for my public health school orientation, I was delighted to talk to her. We compared treatment strategies for the women and children and were relieved to discover our protocols are the same. I should not have been surprised, much of the AIDS research leads to changes in treatment internationally and although I have not looked it up, I’ll bet the standardsRead More →

Yesterday, I ended the blog with a cliché I have grown to hate. In contrast to that statement, the women in this doula training do not live in a different world from me. As difficult as it may be to accept, we live on the same rock with the same finite resources.  It was simply the luck of genetics that I was born in the USA and they were born in Kenya. I dislike that phrase because it pacifies people about situations they find uncomfortable. And it is uncomfortable to be aware of the differences.  66% of the women in Kenya lack access to basicRead More →

This morning we opened the first ever DONA doula training on the African continent. I must admit, I hadn’t considered the historical significance of that before our host announced it. Actually, I hadn’t realized it. While Tammy has been a DONA trainer for five years, I let my doula certification lapse last year because it was impossible for me to attend births while in school. I can honestly say, I would not have expected to be a part of such an event. But Tammy and I work well together as we investigate the challenges facing women around the world. And as if the universe understoodRead More →

Today we visited the labor and delivery floors at a private hospital with a midwife. You can view all the photos if you like. Did you notice I say the L&D floors – as in plural?  The private hospital has two pay levels for birth.  You can have a private room or a semi-private.  A private room is very similar to giving birth in the United States.  One woman to a room, and you give birth in the labor room.  The semi-private is duplex (two women) labor rooms, a separate delivery room and then recovery areas which are side areas on the floor with four areas partitionedRead More →

We have been able to spend a bit of time over the last few days with a doula right here in Nairobi. She is an American who has lived in Kenya for over ten years. The conversation has been both entertaining and enlightening. It seems the doulas of Nairobi have the impression that the doula movement in the USA is very coordinated and accepted. Imagine her surprise as we discussed the various competing groups not only for the right to call someone a certified doula, but also for the right to decide what a doula is and what she can do. She did not realizeRead More →

We spent Sunday morning at a local Masai market–a staple for visitors to Nairobi, lunched with a new friend and then headed to the airport. One of our bags had been left behind in Amsterdam, and our efforts to contact the airline to locate the bag had been fruitless. At the advice of a friend, we decided to show up and hope the bag had arrived. We found the bag quickly and headed back to the retreat center. The missing bag contained everything Tammy had brought for the training. You can imagine her relief at receiving it. We took the time to go through theRead More →

We spent some time today enjoying a few local tourism spots at the Nairobi national park.  We visited the elephant orphanage and a giraffe sanctuary.  So fun to see the animals up close and to learn about the ways Kenya is trying to preserve the wild-life.  We took lots of pictures, and I got sunburned. We spent lunch chatting with the women who organized the doula training to learn more about how they operate. Doulas in Nairobi face the same problems as doulas in the states, and they nearly all revolve around the demands of being on call. We shared some organizational ideas for doulaRead More →

It took a few days, but we made it to Nairobi. We are rested, and settled into our lodgings. We were able to meet the two local women who did the work to arrange the training and our trip. One is a midwife, the other is a US citizen, 10 year resident of Nairobi. Both are currently working as doulas. We have already asked many questions about birth, midwifery and the rights of women in Kenya. Here are some things we have learned thus far. Kenya (like most other countries of the world) is experiencing a shortage of nurses. To help meet nursing needs, theRead More →

Less than 24 hours to take off.  I think everything is packed.  I have class tomorrow then off to the airport to meet Tammy. I’m still trying to decide what carry on bag to take and how to bring my camera.  We seem to have gotten the nervousness out of our systems, and I’m starting to be exited about the trip. I’ll post again as soon as we have internet.Read More →

Before our trip to Nayngezi in 2008 I had very romantic ideas about what it would be like to “help” the people of Africa.  I understood the major differences between the regions and I knew I wasn’t going on safari.  I realized there would be no birthing in huts and that despite what you see on television, most people would be dressed rather similar to me. Yet I still had an innocence about what I would encounter. Returning home from that trip I realized something had ripped inside me. To see the poverty, experience the extortion, come face to face with the abuse of the women, feelingRead More →