We had our first "Mothers' Circle" on the grass outside the library in the center of City Heights. We had 4 women come and a Swahili interpreter. It's our next step for New Life Maternity; to invite refugee moms to come and share their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood both here and in their home country.
"For a new mother in my home country Somalia, we treat her like a queen- we all cook for her, take care of her, she can relax and stay in so that not even the wind would touch her...for 40 days! Being a mother in the U.S. is not easy. I have 11 children but the last were born here, I had to go back to work after 6 weeks and everyone is too busy working to help each other."
We are planning to continue these mothers circles, in an informal setting, with no agenda except building relationships, trust, and a better idea of what the true needs are of local refugee women. Starting in June Mara-Diana and I will facilitate this regularly, and we invite any locals or refugees interested to join us!
At the end of the meet-up we were secretly wondering if it had gone well or not (from the women's perspective). There were questions we wanted to ask or go deeper on, the sun was kind of bright and in our eyes, it was cold out, at times a few of them looked disinterested. We handed out little presents with diapers, wipes, and baby clothes and started to head home.
But we were really encouraged when one of the mothers said enthusiastically at the end "this was really great- I need to tell more women about this! More would love to come!" And the interpreter emailed us saying, "When this pregnant mother came to the group she was full of fear about her upcoming birth, but now that you have explained a few things she says she will be able to rest at night because she understands more now, so thank you."
This was all we needed to hear to want to keep going.