Independent midwives, Debrah Lewis, Marilyn Stollmeyer, Dianne Williams andSimone Clarke began meeting informally to share concerns about the state of prenatal, peri and postnatal care women experienced in Trinidad and Tobago. They lent support to each other in their own efforts to give families individualized care and opportunities for natural childbirth.
Together, they dreamt of a place where women and their families could meet and get the information and support they required in order to make the best choices for their individual birth needs. The reality of this always seemed impossible with very little financial resources of their own and seemingly no support from the medical and financial world.
The quest of one mother to have a memorable and affirmative birth, led Renée Etta to Marilyn’s prenatal classes and ultimately to have the birth of her choice with Debbie. On that day little Jori was born. This experience so empowered his mom, that she was determined that other women, as many as would like, should experience such a dignified and wonderful event.
With immense passion and support of her friend, Christine Norton, who was present at Jori’s birth, Renée gathered the founder-midwives of MAMATOTO, other passionate women and their partners together, and little by little, they chipped away at a small corner of the stone of enshrined birth practices in Trinidad & Tobago to form the group – MAMATOTO (a Swahili word meaning mother baby); the acronym for MOTHERS AND MIDWIVES ALLIANCE OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
MAMATOTO has an excellent library, conference facilities and has established a freestanding active birth centre.
With funding from the J.B.FERNANDES MEMORIAL TRUST 1, we were able to purchase our current premises and establish Phase 1 – The Resource Center and to renovate for Phase 2 -The Birth Center.
The National Lotteries Control Board sponsored our first DOULA training programme, the Postnatal Depression Support Group, as well as funding for renovations of our Birth Centre. We also received funding from Match International of Canada, which enabled us to present free workshops to the public at large.
AWARDS and MEDALS
Mamatoto was awarded the title of Service Provider of the Year 2012 for our achievements in quality, outstanding performance and contribution to local growth and development. We were also awarded a Special Certificate for NGO Excellence by JB Fernandes in 2012.
We received the Faith Wiltshire Award 2013 for our impact on development, promoting gender awareness and women’s empowerment in Trinidad and Tobago.
Debrah Lewis – Founder, Executive Director and Senior Midwife at Mamatoto Resource and Birth Centre received the Dorothea M. Lang Pioneer Award in 2012 from the American College of Nurse-Midwives, for her pioneering vision and innovative leadership as one of midwifery’s “unsung heroes”.
We are very proud that she received a Gold Medal for the Development of Women of the Order of the Trinity on Independence Day 2014.