The BLA (Black Lives Abuela) Scholarship
15th July 2020
Fund to date:
RAISED IN 43 DAYS
We need more Black birthworkers. Black women are at greater risk during the perinatal period. They are five times more likely to die than their white counterparts. With this in mind, Abuela Doulas have created a scholarship fund for Black people to train with us.
The scholarship is: A gifted place on one of the Abuela Doula training courses, and the funds will be used to pay your expenses to complete the course (within reason) eg, the reading list, travel and accommodation when we meet face to face again and stationary.
No money will go into Abuela Doulas itself. Abuela Doulas has anti racism, cultural safety and inclusion right embedded in the very core of our work. It is not an optional extra.
We have finally put ‘pen to paper’ to let you all know some more about the BLA (Black Lives Abuela) Scholarship. Recent global events have kept us busy as we answer calls and support people through their pregnancies and beyond, as well as those that are asking how to make a difference.
So let me start from the beginning…
When I, Mars, first trained as a doula, under the incredible Michel Odent and Lilianna Lammers, I remember being blown away by the sheer glory of birth. I began to practise as a doula, and one thing that kept coming back to me.. Where were the Black and Brown doulas. Now, I know that I wasn’t the only Black doula, I just didn’t know where the others were.
Fast forward, I increasingly felt uncomfortable about the lack of Black and Brown doulas and the lack of representative imagery in the birth world. I’m not sure how long I ranted and raged over this before one of my best birth buddies (I call her ‘The Wife’) turned to me in the car and said “So write your own course then!”. So I did. And I wanted to be sure that the course that I created was one of inclusion. This was a long term goal and one that I am very proud of.
The courses started in London and eventually extended to Birmingham where it is now facilitated by the amazing Lorna Phillip @Birminghamdoula. Just as we expanded into Leeds, Rona came to town and we needed to think fast and make some changes. Abuela Doulas is now a fully fledged, online course that is seeing some incredible people from all over the UK in attendance. The courses are selling out and number of Black and Brown doulas is increasing. The white Abuelitx are learning so much about cultural safety and what it means for Black and Brown people inside the maternity to navigate the perinatal period. All come out with a reproductive justice fire in their bellies.
“I am and always will be a catalyst for change.”
It had been a long held, but vague thought, in the back of my mind to create a scholarship fund to train Black and Brown doulas. As the world began a social conscience awakening to the racism and murder of Black people, the cries began to fund the work of Black and Brown people. Several people asked how they could donate to Abuela Doulas to help further the work to close the disparity gap in maternal mortality. The idea of a scholarship was floated by some and so that fledgling idea came to the fore. With very little work the fund raised over £10,000 in just a fortnight.
Here at Abuela Doulas we put our heads together to decide how much it would cost to take one person through the training with all expenses paid – the reading list, stationary kit, travel costs (when we’re back to face to face courses), accommodation and six months of mentoring. It ranged between £1500-1800. So that was the goal. To ensure that taking up a place on the course didn’t cause financial hardship or difficulty to those who were accepted on scholarship places.
To date we have begun the scholarship process with four Abuelitx, trainee doulas. Their places have been funded, their books have been bought. Stationary kits are en route to them and their training has begun. And it’s wonderful to see. And it’s thanks to YOU for donating, whether it was a few pounds or a few thousand pounds. People have been so generous with their one off donations and also with their regular monthly donations. My heart is full of love and gratitude.
A team of three are getting ready to score the next round of applications as we are committed to having two scholarship places on each fully booked course. The two courses that we offer are the Birth Preparation Course and the Postnatal Sankofa course. For those that are unsuccessful with their applications, we offer them the opportunity to pay for their places in instalments.
We look forward to giving you updates on the courses. We won’t be mentioning specific Abuelitx, unless we have permission to do so, but we will collect their stories and share them with you as they come in.
If you haven’t yet donated and would like to, there are two options:
One off donation – https://paypal.me/pools/c/8pDS94fEby
Monthly giving – https://www.patreon.com/abueladoulas
If you would like to apply for the scholarship, then please do so here https://forms.gle/yTnnV7MEniwQRd6G7
When applying, be sure to be detailed in the filling in of the form. The scholarship is to encourage those that would need the support to train and begin their journey supporting people in the perinatal period.
We’re looking forward to sharing their journeys with you.