This is a guest blog written by our superhero intern Haleigh. She poured her feelings out onto paper following our pitch to (and declining response from) county commissioners for project funding.
In honor of Women's History Month, I wanted to bring to light an issue that I believe most people are not aware of. Just under 60 miles away from Auburn, Alabama, there is a maximum security prison that houses female inmates from all across the state. This prison is the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. Living inside this prison is a particular group of women that I want to focus on. There are around 15-30 pregnant women in Tutwiler at any given time. I have had the opportunity to go inside and serve these women and their babies for one hour, once a month, for the past two months.
Now I know that visiting an hour, once a month doesn’t seem like a lot; however, I can genuinely say that these two visits have influenced me in ways I was not expecting when I began working for the APBP. I have laughed. I have cried. I have been angry and frustrated with, not only myself, but with those surrounding me who don’t understand why we are continuing to serve these women and their babies. I have questioned whether or not I should be doing this. I have questioned the way society has structured me to think. Most often I have questioned if what we are doing is truly making a difference.
There are so many things I have questioned in these past two months, but as soon as I step foot in that prison and I see the faces of these women who are wanting to provide the best pregnancy, birth and future possible for their baby, I forget all of those other things. For that one hour, I know that I am serving one of the most invisible groups of people in our community, in our state, and in our country. I am listening to every single thing that they say. From the uncomfortable pains of being pregnant to the desperation in their voices as they talk about leaving their baby in the hospital and returning to prison.
These women are some of the strongest people I have come into contact with in my short 22 years of life on this planet. I truly admire the strength of these women and the hope that they have for their future and the future of their babies. Some may label them as criminals. Some may label them as unfit to be mothers. But I choose to label them as women. As humans. Every human makes mistakes. These women have also made mistakes, but they are coming to Birthing Care Group hoping to improve their futures and give their babies the best birth possible, regardless of what others are telling them they are capable of.
I am writing this post to urge all of you to recognize these women and their babies. Help them have a voice that is validated and heard by the society that has labeled them as not good enough or invisible. If we take away the hope of these women, we take away the hope they have for their baby’s future. Their mistakes don’t make them less than anyone else; if anything, it makes them more human. They deserve love, hope and the best chance at providing a healthy pregnancy and birth for their babies.
Just a thought,
If you would like to remember these babies and their mothers, please consider joining our Day 15 Campaign. Help us do more than just meet with these women once per month. Help us go once a week, so we can feed them and their growing babies and impact their health and birth outcomes. Thank you.