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Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation

Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation

As doulas, we are first and foremost of service in our local communities.

However, there is so much to be gained from travel and cultural immersion. The question, however, is how to respectfully integrate what we have learned abroad?

This is a question we regularly ask the midwives and healers in Ecuador. How can we share their teachings and ancestral knowledge with our communities while honoring them?

If we learn how to rebozo, we will whisper a prayer of gratitude to these women and their lineage.

If we offer to “close the bones”, we will share with our clients who we learned this from.

If we make an herbal bath for a postpartum person, we will thank the plants for their powers and simply be conduits to their medicine.

The midwives in Ecuador are eager to share their knowledge as it is a dying art. Times are changing, and their children are going to school and moving to cities. The youngest midwife in the community for many years was Lucmila (who is now in her fifties), and luckily her daughter Martha (in her thirties) has stepped in, hoping to revive the sacred birth wisdom.

In return for their teachings, with financially compensate them. We have created reoccurring and sustainable income for this community.

And we also hope that their children are curious as to why groups of foreigners keep traveling to visit and learn from grandma and that they, too, may want to preserve the magic.

In Tanzania, the biggest question is how to break the cycles of colonization as groups of foreigners. Medical colonization is still very real, and we see doctors coming into the clinics as teachers and continuing this cycle of hierarchy and, therefore, oppression.

This is the beauty of doula work. We are there to serve. To spoil the laboring people and love on the nurses. We strive to make their days brighter and to humbly learn from them. The nurse midwives at the clinics regularly offer us opportunities to step out of our scope of practice (just unaware of its limitations), and we get to tell them no- you show me. You teach me.

Cycles break.

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