Swedish scholarships increase diversity among doulas

May 22, 2017
ZeinabaRobele

As the second-oldest child in a family of 10, Zeinaba Robele (pictured, right) helped her mother bring many of her siblings into the world.

“I had the pleasure of being very supportive of her and tried my very best to do everything to ease her stress,” Zeinaba said.

Today, Zeinaba is studying to become a doula with a Swedish Doula Diversity Scholarship. The Swedish doula team and Swedish Community Engagement services created the scholarship to increase the number of doulas who are people of color, LGBTQ or from other underrepresented groups.

Inspired to help her community

When Zeinaba found out there were trained professionals who help women and their families during pregnancy and childbirth, she knew that would be a career she would excel at. “My mother inspires me to be there for women who may not have other support,” she says.

“The more I looked into what doulas do for the community and the difference they make, the more I was drawn to this incredible field,” Zeinaba says.  “I have a passion to be part of my community and be helpful and supportive.”

A dream deferred

“To be able to enhance my knowledge and make a difference in my community, I needed training,” she says. “However, due to the lack of finances, I was not able to pursue my goal of becoming a trained doula.”

Zeinaba put her goal on hold for a number of years. Then she found out about the Swedish Doula Diversity Scholarship program. She applied and recently won a scholarship.

Scholarship recipients receive doula training and certification, access to a lending library and mentoring.

More recipients and their goals

Two other women join Zeinaba as recipients of recent diversity scholarships.

MaraWillaford

Mara Willaford is a Seattle-based writer, advocate and community organizer with a long-standing commitment to reproductive justice and community engagement and empowerment.

“I deeply believe that every family has the right to a safe, empowered and culturally appropriate birth process where they feel confident and cared for,” Mara says.

She says she considers it an honor to help educate and support families during such an important life event as pregnancy, and she’s passionate about supporting all pregnancy experiences and family structures.

AnjelicaMalone

Anjelica Malone grew up in a military family and served six years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a military health services technician and an emergency medical technician, or EMT.

Anjelica first learned about doulas when she volunteered as a mentor to refugee and low-income women in Buffalo, N.Y.  As part of the program, all pregnant women had a doula or a birth support person.

Through her experience there, Anjelica came to believe there’s a missing link in the birth experience of many women in the U.S.: a knowledgeable confidante, champion and “sister in solidarity.”

Anjelica is also a speaker and writer who has contributed works to Circle of Health International, The Black Expat and The Birth Hour podcast. You can follow her adventures and read her inspirational posts about motherhood on her blog, AnjelicaMalone.

October application deadline

Swedish awarded five doula diversity scholarships in 2016, two in early 2017 and the three most recent scholarships in mid-2017. The next deadline for applications is Oct. 31, 2017. More information and an application form are available online.

Did a doula help you through pregnancy and childbirth?

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