By Rachel Burns, Doula Volunteer
“Shanti is my husband, my sister, my brother, my mother, and my baby,” Florence quoted proudly to me on my first day with Shanti in Uganda. Florence is one of the eleven amazing staff members at the Shanti Uganda Maternity and Learning Centre. A staff with such an unwavering commitment to Shanti allows me to believe that Shanti will not only continue to grow but as a truly sustainable centre.
These past two months I have had an extraordinary experience volunteering in Uganda. As a result of being directly involved in the centre, I have been given the privilege and opportunity to get to know the Shanti staff. I found their overwhelming compassion for others and their devotion to Shanti’s values inspiring. The mission of Shanti would be truly impossible to implement without the undying dedication held by all of the staff.
The midwives have worked hard to embody the principles and to value the importance of mother-centered care. They have an unquenchable thirst for gaining knowledge. Yet, I know that I, as a young doula, have learned more from them about birth, Ugandan culture, and life in general.
Every mother that visits Shanti is treated with love and respect, allowing me to confidently say that Shanti is providing the best care for labouring mothers in all of Uganda. The centre is not just a place for birth, but a refuge for mothers. The Shanti spirit of peace and tranquillity surrounds the grounds, creating a place where birth is not feared but honoured not rushed but respected.
I leave Shanti with memories of singing old country songs, learning the traditional Buganda dances, and supporting labouring mothers with even just a smile. But most importantly I leave with hope. Hope for a bright future where every mother is treated the Shanti way. Shanti’s mission will spread and will every day reach more and more women, empowering them to not accept unfair treatment and to strive to get all women around the world this same right.
I will forever remember my time at Shanti and I look forward to a day when I can come back and see how much it has grown and transformed. Namaste.