The Lunar Doula Collective (LDC) and Lunar Doula Support Network (LDSN) attended the Social Transformation Fellowship with the intention of broadening our horizons and learning from experienced individuals. Although we had a vision with concrete goals and were working towards making it a reality, we were still in the beginning stages of putting our ideas into motion. We had recently just finished training our first cohort of volunteer loss doulas for our Bereavement Support Initiative (BSI) and were planning to launch this reproductive loss support service by the end of October. This timeline, however, brought about concerns on how to properly promote awareness for and sustainability of the new program.
From the beginning of the fellowship, we were welcomed by the overwhelming support of not only the staff that ran the workshops, but the fellow students who were also cultivating their unique concepts. To be surrounded by such passionate, driven individuals and receive constructive feedback on our plans was invaluable. Various points that we had never considered were introduced, including the fact that reproductive loss can also affect those related to the individual who is directly impacted by it.
Through informative speaker presentations and collaborative activities, we gained insight on how to narrow down our targeted audience, research the various sources of disparities in reproductive loss, and form new connections with members of a community. We found the presentations related to community and cultural humility especially meaningful, as it emphasized the significance of practicing a thoughtful, non-deficit approach to better understand the groups we are trying to help. As we navigate the beginnings of our project that aims to connect doulas with individuals experiencing and impacted by reproductive loss, we will keep these takeaways in mind so that we are always conscious of unique viewpoints and identities. Such ideas will be promoted in our future training material as well, so that our doulas will be better prepared.
As we near the end of this fellowship, LDC and LDSN emerge with a renewed sense of confidence in our work. We continue to practice the skills that were developed in these last few months, including promotional efforts, community needs assessments, and success evaluation. This has led to remarkable improvements in the responses we get from the stakeholders we contact, and has facilitated numerous connections with members and organizations in our community. With these accomplishments, we are one step closer to our aspiration of advocating for reproductive justice, and creating a community where reproductive health is destigmatized and equitable. LDC and LDSN will always be grateful for the opportunity that the Barger Leadership Institute has provided us, and look forward to participating in more events in the future!
By, Sarayu Dandamudi, Jon Musai, Maya Shih, Buu-Hac Nguyen