Jamaa Birth Village means family in the African language of Swahili. Come and go with me, on the humble beginnings and birthing of a village.
Relaunching our organization was no easy task. We temporarily discontinued Midwifery care as we awaited the completion of my Midwifery education program, and we were finding our footing with grassroots grant writing and fundraising to fund our programs and visions. It was tough, but, one day, I had another vision.
It began with a flash of the original vision that I received by the sea in Elmina, Ghana, and it reminded me that Jamaa Birth Village was supposed to be a stand alone center, a clinic, vibrant and thriving with many families and providers. As the vision faded, another one came in showing me that we had a building waiting for us so we could expand our services, especially as I prepared to become a provider for women in my community.
I prayed for the building to be revealed to me, and within days, the answer came right through our front doors.
After wrapping up a meeting, and awaiting my next, an older Black woman walked through our doors. She was panting a bit like she had been jogging or just ran in. I welcomed her to come in and have a seat and inquired about what we could help her with.
She said, “I heard about a Doula training that you all do here, and I was trying to find your location. Someone said you all were right by the Ferguson Public Library.” I said, “Well, we used to be. That’s where we started meeting and providing education before we moved here.” She continued, “Well, there’s a doctors office across the street from the Ferguson Public Library, and I thought that was y’all, so I walked in and they told me I had the wrong place, and they told you all were across from the bank down the street. The lady mentioned that I was lucky that I caught her as they were packing up and leaving and moving out of the building.”
I immediately got chills all over my body, and the vision returned swiftly, right to the forefront of my mind. I said wait, “They’re moving out?” She said, “Yes, the building is almost vacant.” I excused myself and wrote down a note to immediately follow-up on this lead. I supported the woman in getting signed up for Doula classes and thanked her so much for the information.
About a week later, our Moms Group Coordinator was walking upfront from the back of our 1,000 sq ft suite, all packed up and ready to go after leading another great group session. By the time she’d made it to the front, I’d asked her if she had a minute to help me with something. I had researched the building, it was being rented by a previous hospital group, but the owners information was almost non-existent and the building was not on the market. She worked for the hospital that the clinical group belonged to, so I asked her if she could find out who owned the building from her job. On the spot she called, got his info, and I was ringing his phone, leaving a message moments later.
About 3-attempts later, I was able to speak with the owner, a retiring Physician. He was willing to show me the building despite it not being on the market and welcomed me over the following week.
I walked over to the building, 40 N Florissant Rd, and glanced across the street. It was literally directly across from the Ferguson Library and our humble beginnings. I felt a surge of power, the vision came again, and I just new that this was Jamaa’s New Home.
The building was very old, with dated interiors, and would need a lot of work. I shared our mission and vision with the owner. He told me the building was just appraised for $185k. My mind went to the fact that we were still becoming stable as a non-profit and had only manage to raise a peak of $1300 at our annual Gala’s each year. Nonetheless, I told him I would speak with my board and get back with him. I called back a couple of days later, and asked if he would be willing to donate the building to us, minus $50k. He said he couldn’t, as he was retiring and it just wouldn’t work. He advised that I go back to my board and ask again.
I didn’t. I said a big prayer, and let it go. I stopped thinking of it everyday, and just continued serving mothers. It was the last Tuesday in May, I’d just made it home from picking my sons up from school, and I missed a call from the owner. I stared at the phone wondering, what would the call entail, as I couldn’t budge on the offer. To be honest, I didn’t even know where the $50k would come from that I offered to to him. He left a voicemail to call back, I did. He informed me that he spoke to his business partner about all the great things we were doing, and he thought that he came up with a plan that could work. He wanted to meet with me the next day, but this time, at Jamaa Birth Village.
My whole life changed after that moment.