I first started thinking about going abroad when I started looking at midwifery schools.  Travel is a big part of my life—it is a way for me to expand my horizons and come home with fresh perspective on life in the U.S.  I have had the opportunity to travel to Europe, Mexico, Canada and all over the United States.  Those trips were crucial parts of my growth and really opened my eyes to the larger picture of our human global existence.  They, along with some influential films and pieces of art, also pointed me in the direction of global service—specifically to a dream of working with Doctors Without Borders someday.  When I started looking at going to midwifery school, I knew that being able to get midwifery experience abroad and in developing nations would be an important part of my education.

So why did I choose the Philippines?  Well, there are many reasons.  I looked at programs in Bali, Senegal, and Haiti.  But after looking more closely, while I would love to go to those countries, I knew those programs weren’t for me.  I kept searching.  My search eventually led me to Shiphrah Birthing Home, and more than the Philippines, it was Shiphrah that drew me in.

Shiphrah Birthing Home is a birth center just outside of Manila, the largest city in the Philippines.  They serve around 200 birthing women and their families each year.  What really captivated me was this:

At Shiphrah we believe in the well-being of the whole woman, her mind, her body, and her spirit. We promote wholeness through the building of mutual relationships between woman, midwife, and family through dignified, excellent maternal health care, empowering education, and genuine friendship.

Shiphrah’s commitment to empowering women and offering excellent care to those who may not otherwise have it really struck me.  This was a place that embodied the same values that I value so highly in midwifery care—dignity, quality, empowerment, service and compassion.  I am happy to give time and money to an organization like that.  And I feel that it will be an excellent environment for me to learn.

Other things that I like about Shiphrah are that they are a birth center (this is crucial to me, being that I want to practice out of hospital birth here in the U.S.) and they spend time and effort training local midwives. Training local midwives helps to improve maternity care for many more women and families in the Philippines—helping people help themselves.

As I prepare for this trip, I have been spending a considerable amount of time thinking about what the exchange will be when I go to Shiphrah.  How can I be open and willing as I can be while I’m there?  I know that a humble heart and mind will go a long way toward learning, but I must also be very aware of the cultural differences between the U.S. and the Philippines.  The art of midwifery is very subtle, and in order for me to learn all that I can I have to be aware of the small distinctions that make midwifery what it is in the Philippines.  I know that these Filipina midwives have a lot of knowledge they can teach me, and I have a lot to learn!

The same can be said for being of service.  Humility goes a long way towards understanding and being as useful as I can.  I hope my skills as a more advanced midwifery student will be helpful, but also I hope that I can help with the nitty gritty of running the birth center, like cleaning and helping the space run in the day to day.  I even have dreams of helping to start an herb and vegetable garden while I’m there, but that will depend on the needs and wants of those who work and live at Shiphrah.

Moving forward, I am getting really excited to do some world travel again.  I’ve been trying to learn some Tagalog and getting all my travel documents in order.  I can’t wait to get outside my comfort zone and experience new things!  I’ll be keeping everyone updated via my blog: www.manamidwifery.wordpress.com.  I’ll make sure to write while I’m in the Philippines and upload pictures, so keep checking back!

Lastly, I want to thank all the people who have so generously contributed to my IndieGoGo campaign and bought raffle tickets supporting my trip.  I don’t have the space to name them all individually, but know that I will carry all that love and support with me on my trip. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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