This organization was started with love and dedication for our community by a group of women experiencing what it was like to be in our childbearing years and mothering here in the islands of Hawaiʻi in the 2000s. Most of us were and are struggling on many fronts to juggle the needs of our growing families, make a living, navigate relationships, and within the mix of it all find time for the things that bring us joy. Daily reminders told us that the changes happening in our bodies were something to fear. Despite Google, unbiased and useful information felt shockingly hard to come by.
We had to learn as we went, and found resilience and strength in each other. We shared a vision, that together this transformative, transitional part of our lives did not have to be quite as hard as it sometimes felt. We wanted it to be easier and more comfortable for families in our community to find resources and to feel empowered and supported on their journeys into parenthood. That's how the Pacific Birth Collective was born! Now six years later, it is continuing to evolve and grow.
At the time we started, many people told us that there was no way, we would not be able to maintain it. We fell flat on our face a few times and received some harsh but necessary feedback over the years about the responsibility of holding an inclusive platform, to honor the past while adapting to the needs of modern citizens of Hawaiʻi. Culture is not stagnant, it is alive and molded by the practices, values and needs of individuals engaged in community. For us to successfully work together, we believe it requires a commitment to open non-violent communication, compassion for our struggles both personal and collective, and a willingness to embrace and respect differences in all forms. We are all in this together.
For this first blog post I would like to share a little about myself and my dream for our collective future. My Name is Charlene Kiana Rowley, I am a straddler of many things, including my heritage being a white woman who grew up in Hawai’i. I always felt a desire to fit in but had to face the reality that my white western ancestors perpetrated the decline of the culture, language, and sustainable life giving practices of Kanaka Maoli who have cared for these islands for thousands of years. Now at 37, I do feel that I belong to Hawaiʻi. I also feel a responsibility to acknowledge past wrongs and advocate for reparations and revitalization of traditional practices that sustain the health of our islands and her people.
Native Hawaiians and other indigenous peoples suffer from horrendous health disparities. Poverty, food insecurity, addiction and an out of control housing crisis that are killing and displacing them from their ancestral lands. This is not okay. In this uncertain world they hold the key to our survival!! The health of these islands is reflected in the health of her people, and until these disparities are corrected, none of us can thrive.
This blog is a living breathing documentation by our community, for our community as we seek to elevate and empower our generation to care for our bodies, our families, our communities and our environment with the collective wisdom of our ancestors and the resilience that comes when we care for and believe in one another. Mahalo nui loa to each and every one of you who contribute your best self to our community so that together we can proudly pass the torch to the next generation.
With love and respect,
Kiana, PBC Vice President