SO MANY WARM WELCOMES: Debra writes about arriving in Bali

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SO MANY WARM WELCOMES: Debra writes about arriving in Bali

Debra Pascali Bonaro arrives at Eat Pray Doula workshop in Bali

Day 1 ~ March 10th, 2012 ~ Yayasan Bumi Sehat Nyuh Kuning Village:  Waking this morning as the sun was rising and looking out to see my first glimpse of Bali in the daylight felt so magical. I have only been here once before but the Island and the people have captured my heart. Before long, morning offerings were made – beautiful flowers and innocence are laid on, or near, all the statues and doorways. I sip my coffee and breath in the fragrant, warm, humid, Balinese air and prepared for a great day ahead. I gather the vitamins from my travel bag to bring to Ibu Robin Lim, who will give them to the women she cares for at the Bumi Sehat Birthing Center, and begin my walk through Nyuh Kuning, the small village I will call home for these next few weeks. In just a few steps I see the familiar, smiling faces of many people I remember in the village. It felt like coming home. So many warm welcomes.

I continue on to the familiar stone outside Ibu Robins family/community that reads “Welcome Home”. I had arrived at my Balinese home. Walking into the kitchen, a family and community gathering spot at Ibu Robin’s, I was instantly wrapped into the arms of both Katherine Bramhall and Robin Lim, my co-partners for the Eat Pray Doula Workshop, amazing midwives and friends. I could not believe it was a year ago, here at this table, we envisioned the workshop and were now here to offer it. As so often happens at Robin’s table, people were coming and going, mothers and fathers with questions, family and friends gather, and soon we were all swept away with the activities of the day. Robin and I were able to sneak away to her balcony for a short while to work on beading into necklace beautiful, handmade amulets. The amulets were created by local craftsman who were commissioned by Robin for Bumi Sehat. Turtle, Pregnant Woman, Owl, Midwife’s Hand, and other creations are carved from moose antler gathered after the antler has been shed, so as not to harm the animals but to pass along the offerings of their horns when they are no longer needed.

Midwife’s Hand, Turtle, OwlMotherBaby, Pregnant Belly

The variation of colors grace each item with the delicate hand-made carving, making each piece unique. Robin’s love for each piece and the intricate carving it beholds, together with her dedication to bringing gentle birth to Indonesia and beyond, is strong. As CNN’s 2011 Hero of the Year, a well deserved honor, she is my hero and this quiet moment, beading and looking out over the rice field, although short, is treasured.

Soon the phone rings, more people arrive and Robin is needed. Our peace is gone as the business of the day takes over. I walk down the street to Bumi Sehat where again it feels so good to hug and embrace all the midwives and staff.  A year has passed, but it feels as if I have only been away a week. It is acupuncture day and Dr. Bobbi is  busy treating the women, men, and families of the community. The smell of Moxa is in the air, needles adorn the many people who are laying and receiving their treatments.  A true community center, full of life. Mayra, a wonderful, Brazilian midwife and filmmaker whom I had met at the Midwifery Today conference in Bad Wildbad, Germany is here. She is continuing a year of travel and filming around the world for her Birth Around the World project. I have been following her journey and staying in touch, so was very happy our paths had come together again. Mayra and I walk to lunch at a small cafe to catch-up. We sit on pillows on the bamboo floor, with traditional Balinese vegetation all around and the great smells and foods of Bali. I was enjoying the culture through all my senses and as my body began to sweat from the rising humidity of the day and my eyes began to tear from the hot spices, I felt my body sinking back into this culture I have come to love so much.

We walk back to the birth center and I am quickly intercepted by Ibu Robin and Katherine to join them shopping for hand-painted sarongs intended as gifts for the Eat Pray Doula workshop participants to use as Balinese Rebozos. We took off in the van with Poggi our driver through the small streets and villages, taking in the temples, statues, carvings, plants, and people along the way. I never tire of the Balinese landscape. We arrive at Robin’s favorite sarong shop and quickly find ourselves sitting in a circle on the floor together, looking at the amazing colors, designs, and fabric – sharing our enthusiasm for each sarong and choosing ones for our participants. It was so much fun! My eye kept catching this beautiful wall hanging, a sarong illustrating a flowing woman with dolphins and colors around her. I asked if they could make her for me pregnant. They agreed and in three days I will return to look at the design, knowing it will be amazingly beautiful. I will order 20 to bring home for Global Birth Fair, so look for our new additions from Bali soon.

It has been a full first day, reconnecting my heart and spirit to Robin, Katherine, Mayra, Bumi Sehat, the village of Nyuh Kuning and Bali. I will sleep well as tomorrow we will settle into Swasti Eco Cottages where we will greet the women who are traveling from around the world to join the Eat Pray Doula Workshop. I look forward with honor and awe to beginning our workshop Monday morning.




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