Its official! I’m headed back, and this time I’m bringing friends, some of whom I know, and some of whom I am looking forward to meeting. In a few short weeks, I’m leading a team of awesome doula trainers, and we will be sharing our knowledge and skills with the Ugandan midwives, several aspiring Canadian doulas, and each other. Many of these women have never travelled internationally at all, let alone to a developing country. I wish I could see the trip through their eyes, because I’m curious like that. I want to know everything…why they want to come, what they hope to accomplish, how I can support them. We’ll discuss all of that, of course, and I will do the best I can, but in the end, it’s just like birthing. (Hey, I’m a midwife. I can make a birth metaphor out of two pieces of gum, a string, and a small poodle. I’m McGyver with a doppler.)
Everyone who is going on this trip has different experience with birth, with travel, with education, with life. As a leader, I feel it is my obligation to meet each participant where they are, to facilitate growth and provide a safe little cocoon in which to process and relax. But I can’t force my idea of what they should be experiencing onto them. It has been so interesting just to watch different folks’ reactions to the preparations, trying not to butt into their processes and tell them what I think they should do. Everyone has different ideas about vaccines, ebola danger, political instability, the lack of infrastructure, what technology to bring, etc etc etc. I’ve tried so hard to offer choices, to tell them my experiences, and then just shut up and get out-of-the-way. It’s not my birth, it’s not my birth, it’s not my birth. I have no expectations around this trip, except to offer who I am, and then to sit back and let the labor take its course.
The constant, of course, is Uganda, with everything that that implies. After all, Africa always wins. Those of you who came along with me on the blog last year may remember that I couldn’t find string in Kasana, and had to disassemble a mop to make a project work. (see, I wasn’t kidding with the McGyver bit.) That experience has become my symbol of flexibility, of creative thinking, of letting go. It will be so interesting to see what symbols the other team members gather, which little image or event worms its way into their brains, and stays with them back home.
All I can do is my very best, and trust the process. After all, its always worked before.