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terri goes to tibet

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Madeleine Bault (1911 - 2009)

Madeleine Bault (1911 – 2009)

My great-grand mother was only 36 when she died… a few days after giving birth to my grand-mother, Madeleine, who was her first child. She died of puerperal fever, an infection which could sometimes affect women in the days following a delivery. Back then, in France, it was still fairly common, and fatal. Heart broken by the loss of the woman he loved, my great-grand father never remarried. He raised his daughter alone, and died 40 years later, a widower. My grand-mother ended up spending her 98 years on earth wishing her birth had not cost her mother’s life, a wish which her grief-stricken father also expressed to her more than once. Being motherless had a big impact on her life, including the way she raised her children. It’s hard to mother others when you have not been mothered yourself. My mother ended up inheriting the wound of ‘motherlessness’ and unfortunately carried it to her grave as well. I wrote this short poem recently about them both.

motherless daughters
never stop grieving the well
where they could not drink.

It perhaps does not always have to be so. We can learn to nourish ourselves, and find mentors and friends who help us develop the qualities and strengths our parents could not embody and model for us. But still, something my mother whispered to me late one night a few days before she died of cancer stayed with me as a deep truth: “On perd beaucoup lorsque l’on perd sa mère” (We lose a lot when we lose our mother).

Terri Nash

Terri Nash

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because one of my favorite teachers, Terri Nash is going to Tibet for 6-weeks as part of the Lotus Health Initiative. She will be training Tibetan women who want to learn midwifery skills to prevent the tragically high maternal death rates in Gargon (Eastern Tibet). I am supporting her crowd funding campaign because I am a big fan of Terri.  She supported me to ‘midwife’ my mother’s passing five years ago. And I wish to live in a world where mothers do not die needlessly. This is also my way of honoring the memory of my great-grand mother, Marie-Louise Faure, who died in Marseilles in March of 1911 because she did not receive the kind of delivery and post-partum care that trained midwives offer. Today, only one in 3,600 live births results in death in Europe and the United States. But in many other parts of the world, giving birth remains one of the most dangerous things a woman can do (e.g. one death per 270 live births in Indonesia). According to some studies, in remote parts of Eastern Tibet today, the odds are 1 in 33.

Would some of you like to join me in supporting Terri to contribute her gifts and her 30-years of experience as a midwife to Tibetan women?  She needs $15,000 to cover the expenses involved in training four midwives over the course of several weeks (half of these funds will cover the cost of using translators).

Tibetan Midwife

Tibetan Midwife

“Imagine giving birth alone at a high altitude in the cold, holding your newborn child in your arms and breaking apart your umbilical cord with a rock or rusty knife. This continues to be the reality of women in eastern Tibet today.”   Here is where you can learn more about Terri’s upcoming trip to Tibet, and what she needs.  And if you feel so moved, please join the 81 of us who have collectively contributed $7679 to date.

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