Sarah Kraft – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this woman, one of courage, strength and vision that is devoting her life to the passage of life itself. Through her own organization, this woman is globally working to better the lives of all women, making the passage of new life a safer and more viable experience. As a midwife herself, this woman’s dream was to ‘Midwife the Midwife’.

 
 
 

WOMAN of ACTION™

 
Sarah Kraft midwife
 

Sarah Kraft

 
 
 
 
Sarah Kraft, President of Midwife International, has 14-years of combined experience in leadership-training, public relations and business development with a focus on women’s empowerment and maternal health. Though Sarah did not go on to earn her certification as a midwife, she studied and apprenticed with Midwives for 2+ years in Boulder, Colorado and Portland, Maine. Sarah’s struggle to find a viable pathway to midwifery is what inspired her to co-found Midwife International. Someday, Sarah hopes to be catching babies alongside Midwife International students. She has had both of her children at home with a Certified Professional Midwife.

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Prior to founding Midwife International, Sarah was the founder and publisher of Mindful Mama Online Magazine, bringing the latest news in natural parenting to 10,000+ loyal readers; the Development Director of Mother’s Acting Up, where she supported women’s advocacy through the arts; and a Program Manager at the YWCA of Boulder County, where she personally mentored and trained over 100 girls in media technology and journalism.

Sarah studied Women’s Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she completed a 2-year certificate training in international service-learning through the INVST program. She is also a Certified Yoga Instructor.

Midwife International: The world needs more midwives.

sarah kraft midwives-in-honduras1Midwife International’s solution is to partner with established clinics and professional midwives to provide leadership and midwifery training opportunities abroad. Their Global Midwife Training Advanced Internships, Midwifery Intensives and 3-Year Midwifery School provide a challenging learning environment intended to train midwives who will be equipped to provide high-quality maternity care in a variety of settings.

The organization’s service learning model is designed to influence the way student midwives see themselves and their role in the communities they serve, and to develop the skills necessary to become the future leaders of ‘positive change in maternity care‘.

There have been many moments in this process that have been pivotal and miraculous but three stand out that I will mention. The first happened before the idea of a school was even much in my consciousness. I was talking to a friend of mine in San Marcos, Dr. Bill, (one of those rare physicians that really “gets it” about midwifery). He had just finished reading my book.

I remember him saying, with a lot of intensity,

“I want you to dream big. What would you do if you could do anything?”


 

That of course, is a good question for anyone.

sarah kraft - visionaryFor me, the wholesale loss of normal birth as a human experience on a global scale is a major tragedy. A heartbreak for humanity. Because the opportunity for re-membering the truth of our interdependence and the love we are made of through the experience of birth compares to nothing else. It’s an incredible gift that is being squandered. Drugged and surgical birth just aren’t the same. For whatever reason saving birth has become part of my mission in life. My answer to his question was, “I would save midwifery here in Guatemala BEFORE its gets lost.” He just smiled and nodded his head. In that moment I was given permission to be totally audacious–in a good way.

The second moment (a series of moments) was several months later when I was riding the public boat to San Pedro, late for a meeting with some potential students and Ester. Stephanie Bonin happened to be on my right and she struck up a conversation with me about my project. On my left was her friend, visiting from Colorado for a week vacation. He overheard the conversation and told me I should meet his wife, also named Sarah. She was in the back of the boat and he introduced us when we disembarked. Several days later Sarah and I met at the clinic and Sarah did an interview with me for her blog, Mother’s Advocate.
 

Midwifery – Lake Atitlan

A midwife’s journey in Guatemala

The link to the interview is below. As I explained to her the vision for our school, tears started streaming down her face. As it turns out, she had had a similar vision many years earlier of an international school for midwives. Her vision was to create a school where North American student midwives could get their education in a place where the need was great, alongside local women who would be serving their own communities. She had also recently been asking the universe for a way to use her talents and time in service to something bigger. She had found the answer to her seeking.

One thing led to another and Sarah Kraft has become our executive director, contributing tremendous amounts of time, skills, talents, vision, and commitment. I could not have invented a better executive director in my imagination. I am forever grateful to hand off that piece to someone who has skills in organizational development and fundraising. I want to focus my efforts on midwifery practice and mentoring midwifery students. I have a vision of mentoring midwifery students in a way that I craved during my training but never experienced.

I think of it as “midwifing the midwife.

Sarah Kraft-Proechel_Midwife-International_Midwives-225x300So here is the really interesting piece….Sarah Kraft had a vision of somehow getting involved with midwifery in Guatemala (separate from the other vision I recounted) when she attended the midwives conference in New Mexico in 2001.

That was the first conference that hosted traditional Guatemalan midwives, Antonina Sanchez and Berta Juarez, to teach a class on herbal medicine. It was because of them that I went to that conference and when I met them I knew I needed to go to Guatemala.

“I had a vision of being involved somehow in midwifery in Guatemala but I didn’t know what that looked like.”

Ester happened to be at that same conference though she was there only as a participant.

That’s where she wrote down her dream for the second time. Ester still has those two slips of paper.

So how’s that for synchronicity?

I continue to watch with rapt attention as the process unfolds.

The third moment, was shortly after I met Sarah, we were sitting at a gathering and she asked the people gathered to each tell about the biggest transformation we had experienced this year. I remember surprising myself by saying, “I have moved from trying to figure out how to make my own life work to wanting to make things work for a lot of people.” It is a very fulfilling and energizing place to be. I am still very much motivated by this drive.

About the image: This photo was taken after the first visioning meeting for Ixchel-Atitlán in December 2010. From left to Right: Ester Pop Tuch, Mariu Gobbato holding Inti, Alicia DeCristafaro, Corina Fitch, and Sarah Proechel.

 

Working Alongside Traditional Midwives

It’s time for an entirely new and creative strategy for training birth professionals– one that is focused on the outcome of birth, rather than the political factions which have taken root in the maternal healthcare system. As a team, we should constantly ask ourselves how we can become leaders and catalysts for a new paradigm in maternal care, and I believe that this discussion falls within that realm.

sarah midwife 2In Guatemala, we have an interesting environment where the majority of women have home births with traditional midwives, but the MOH (Ministry of Health) has repeatedly failed to properly train traditional midwives, which means that the traditional midwives continue to practice without being trained in the midwifery model of care.

We know that where the midwifery model of care is excluded from the healthcare system, birth outcomes suffer and medicalized birth takes over. We have discovered that the MOH is willing to consider support for a program which trains “professional midwives” — ushering in a new era of midwifery in Guatemala. This is an opportunity for us!

By training “professional midwives” with the intention of simultaneously creating in-roads for traditional midwives, we can literally redefine the guatemalan maternal care system. Our Guatemalan graduates will be acknowledged by the MOH and, through preceptorships and midwifery circles will also be embraced by the traditional midwives. Overtime, I hope that this approach will soften the MOH and that we will be able to return to the task of training traditional midwives specifically. Meanwhile, our guatemalan students become the missing-link between the MOH and traditional midwives. If we focus on training traditional midwives in the beginning, then we are replicating old strategies, pushing up against a system that has explicitly excluded us, and risk losing the opportunity to make inroads for the midwifery model of care in Guatemala.

AND we are not just opening a school for the midwives of Guatemala! Our mission is to improve birth outcomes through exceptional midwifery education — world-wide. We are opening an international, intercultural school and by doing so, we have the opportunity to create MANY such bridges.

Sarah Kraft Guatemalan-Midwives-300x261Our curriculum is based on the midwifery model of care and our job is to elevate the position of the midwifery model of care among all factions within international maternal healthcare systems. On a philosophical level, this requires that we do not cling to the political rhetoric that surrounds and entangles us, but rise above it; in Guatemala, the U.S, and beyond.

There are many manifestations of midwifery around the world (nurse, professional, traditional, and so on…) and these titles carry political implications that are unique in every country. Given that we need to choose one certification, I believe that the title of “Professional Midwife” will best serve our students in the global context… and that is why I encourage us to embrace the title of Professional Midwife with open arms and to do the work required to validate this title.

Also, I believe that we are all being called to do this work because it is critical to the very foundation of society. From a psycho-spiritual perspective, I invite you to consider the prophesy of the Condor and the Eagle. “The Prophecy of the Condor and Eagle can be taken at many levels — the standard interpretation is that it foretells the sharing of indigenous knowledge with the technologies of science, the balancing of yin and yang, and the bridging of northern and southern cultures.

However, most powerful is the message it offers about consciousness; it says that we have entered a time when we can benefit from the many diverse ways of seeing ourselves and the world, and that we can use these as a springboard to higher levels of awareness.

As human beings we can truly wake up and evolve into a more conscious species.

By Sarah Kraft, Co-Founder, President & CEO of Midwife International

 
Midwife International 1 year training programs at established clinics in Haiti, Uganda, and Cambodia and new clinics in Guatemala, Jamaica and Kenya, will blend local and international students learning through a shared curriculum that combines hands-on skills training with academic study, leadership training, and culturally appropriate projects. Learn more by visiting http://midwifeinternational.org
 

 

The World Needs More Midwives

Midwives-Hands_HondurasMore than 58 countries lack enough qualified midwives to provide timely access to skilled healthcare for mothers and infants. Our solution is to train midwives who are equipped to work in resource-constrained regions where maternal and child mortality is high and the need for professional midwives is greatest.

Midwife International partners with established clinics and professional midwives to provide leadership and midwifery training opportunities abroad. While each host site offers a unique educational experience, our students are connected internationally through a shared curriculum that combines hands-on skills training with book study and service projects — fostering leadership and personal growth. Apply now.
 

FIND Sarah Kraft HERE

Sarah on Facebook

International Midwife – Applications Here

Sarah’s Website – International Midwives Foundation

 
 
 

A Celebration of Women™

welcomes this heart and love filled woman into our global Alumni with open arms, looking forward to many collaborations in the betterment of lives for all women, and the increase of proper maternal healthcare for all newborns.

carnations

Brava Sarah!

 

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