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Updated: Mar 31, 2023


Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, there were two young girls who went to the same small college, who played on the same volleyball team and eventually became roommates.


Judging from the height of the hair and the quality of the photo, if you guessed this was early 1990’s, you would be correct.


Back then, we were feisty and easily riled. Independence was in our veins, although because it was a conservative Bible college, only in moderation. Spring breaks in Florida, life in Chicago and dorm life created life-long memories and friends.


Then life…families…kids and distance. Thirty years later, we are different now at age 50 than we were at 19, thankfully.


I hadn’t seen Dawn in over 30 years since our mischief-making days. Last week she and her sister-in-law Sandy, flew halfway around the world to visit me in Cape Town, South Africa and to work with us at Havilah Collective.


I was so delighted that time and distance had not dimmed Dawn’s passion and inner fire. In fact, that same tenacity was channeled toward birth justice as her work as a doula, honed by wisdom and life experience. We talked for hours about a world filled with flourishing for women, despite opposition.


I got to watch first-hand as Dawn taught several groups of women here in Cape Town about their bodies, how we were designed to withstand pain, how strong women are, and the beauty of childbirth stories.


When women get together and have an invitation to share their birth stories, there is a universal, collective bonding, no matter the culture, language or experience. We are one. That conversation opens up so much more. It is a sisterhood of global proportions.


We had the opportunity to visit a government hospital and speak to the head midwife, who openly invited Dawn to offer advice, tips and guidance for childbirth. This has begun a partnership that is already producing fruit for mothers who are isolated, struggle with English and are in need of support.


We talked with survivors of human trafficking about their hopes and dreams for their future, which beautifully included a family, and a life that meant childbirth on their own terms.


When women support women something beautiful happens. Despite trauma and heartache, beauty is born. There is a flourishing that does not diminish pain, but acknowledges that pain exists, and yet, through the pain, there is hope. There is redemption in spite of pain.


Our lives are living birth stories.


I’m amazed at how effortlessly Dawn fit in and created space for such personal conversations to take place. These conversations, held with dignity and honor, reflected the image of the Divine seen in each person. When we share stories, shame can’t survive, there is a strength that unites us and inspires us to keep creating, keep birthing the kind of world that we know is possible. That world is strengthened through relationships, through each of us supporting one another.



We are creating spaces for women in traumatized communities to flourish. If you’d like to support the work of Havilah Collective, we’d love to chat. Send us a message!


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