Become a Midwife

Direct Entry Midwife Training Program
(Basic, Intermediate and Advanced)

The Direct Entry Midwife Training Program is directed an precepted by Makeda Kamara.

About the Preceptor

I’ve been doing midwifery and women’s health for 30+ years. I have 2 children born at home: Sizwe, almost 29, and Bai (born in Benin West Africa), who’ll be 24 in February. I started out in the Women’s Health Movement of the 70s in the struggle for drug free natural birth, setting up feminist health centers to teach women how to stay out the gynecologist office. In 72 I traveled to Tanzania, East Africa to teach and work in Liberation Schools and work under Mwalimu Education for Self Reliance (I’d done my college honor’s thesis on this subject). My life was totally transformed by a birth experienced in WeruWeru village in Moshi on the slopes of the Kilimanjaro where I lived and taught at the time. I was called to midwifery by the Most High and got involved in vegetarianism and public health, developing a strong interest in maternal childcare. After a year, I moved to Uganda where I worked for Africa Basic Foods and teaching at Kololo Senior Secondary. I returned to the US and received my Masters in Education while continuing my work with the Women’s Health Movement, the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party and vegetarianism.

The 70’s was a very vibrant time. I married in ‘77 while continuing to being involved with birth, defined communities and alternative health and the women’s movement of the time. I was part of the founding of the Boston Food Coop in 71, the Peoples Food Coop in Ann Arbor in 76, Ann Arbor Safe Alternatives to Childbirth and MANA while beginning to dabble in midwifery while attending U-M School of Public Health. After apprenticing with Fronzella, I decided in ‘78 to go to nursing school to enable me to go to midwifery school. There were very little paths to midwifery as available now during the ’70s. Given the scarcity, there were even less options for Black midwives. It was becoming a guild. I generally was an anomaly even in the Women’s Health Movement. Pat Kramer was my midwife for my homebirth for my son and told me that it would have been uncomfortable to apprentice me as the families she served may feel uncomfortable having a Black midwife. This further propelled me to nurse midwifery while continuing doing homebirths and alternative health work. My family and I moved to Benin, West Africa in 85 (I attending the UN’s first conference on women in 85 in Nairobi, Kenya, traveled to Congo Braza for traditional Congolese Culture Dance theatre, then to Cote D’Ivoire and finally Benin.) I was pregnant with my daughter about 2 months at this time. After bouts with dysentery, and almost drowning in the Congo River, we settled in Benin. There I linked up with a traditional midwife who caught my baby and with whom I later apprenticed. We returned to the US when my baby was 3 and I continued my nursing education (it took me 11 years to complete all the while doing apprenticeship, alternative health and nursing/homeschooling, etc).

We returned to the US and my husband took a job as Dean at UMass, Boston and I linked up with Shafia Monroe and the Traditional Childbearing Group (a grass roots organization for alternative birth options for Black women). As a representative of this group, I became an advisory board member of a group assembled to design a midwifery program in Public Health/primary care of Women and HIV at Boston University. Massachusetts was to become one of the 10 states to test a new program, Healthy Start, meant to decrease the high infant mortality and premature birth of black babies. (this was 1989/90) I was also a MANA board member and working on developing NARM and standardizing homebirth midwife education. Once established, I became one of the ten women chosen to be the first class of this unique and first of its kind program which was specifically designed to increase the critical mass of black midwives. Needless to say, the program no longer exists and was never the same after the lst class (what else is new?)

Now here we are, I am 60 years old and been on this journey since I was 19 years old….I wouldn’t change it for anything. La luta continua and we will win…Goddess doesn’t like ugly. We just have to stay strong and keep the faith and know that the reward will be great…..

Cultural Exchange Programs (Senegal, Djibouti, Jamaica, Eritrea)

African Birth Collective and International Birth and Wellness Project are partnering to offer an opportunity for hands on midwifery training in Sénégal, West Africa. If you are a student, apprentice, or midwife looking to get more experience, this may be the program for you!

In January we will host 4 students and 1 supervisor in the lovely coastal village of Kafountine, Casamance in the southern Djolla region. This is a full 4 week program. There will be a NARM approved supervising midwife on all shifts with students to assist and sign off births. This trip will also be offered in March.

In Mboro there are three local maternities within 15 minutes of each other that we work in. They average 60-80 births per month and each have one large birthing room, an after care room, and two clinic rooms. Prenatals happen four days a week, and there is ample opportunity to gain experience in doing exams, including bi-manuals and vaccinations, as well as deliveries. In Kafountine, the clinic is walking distance from the house and cell phones allow us to always be on call. The Kafountine clinic averages between 40-60 births per month. They also have a thriving organic garden in the back for additional income.

We will strive to be of service to the women in these clinics, as well as learn from them and their culture. This is a unique opportunity to critically look at how culturally based assumptions affect our understanding of basic concepts of health and illness, passages of birth and death, causation of disease and care during pregnancy and postpartum. We ask everyone to keep a willing attitude and an open mind that is free of judgment and full of curiosity.

The fee for three weeks of invaluable birth experience is between $3100 and $3500 depending on airfare. Tuition includes: a copy of the Wolof Workbook for English Speakers, accommodations, three meals a day of traditional African cuisine, laundry, transportation, airfare from New York and medical supplies. The application fee is a non-refundable $30. Upon receipt of your application we will schedule a phone interview and if approved a deposit of $500 dollars will reserve your space. If all your payments are made on time this deposit will apply towards your tuition. On each program we do take two doulas or beginning students, preferably with French language skills.

Download the application

please direct your calls and questions to:
ZaYn Muhammad Manna at 877-334.4297 or birthandwellness@gmail.com

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