We as mothers make a profound impact on our children. We teach them how to love, how to dream, and how to grow into world changers. I forget many days that my greatest platform is as mother to my two Little Women, but as I read Sera’s interview and witnessed how profound a role her mother played in her life; leading her to create a global impact organization, I can’t help but remember that just as I schedule interviews and blog posts, I must be intentional about my role at home.
Though our world sometimes tells us otherwise, I don’t believe that anyone (male or female) can have everything they want all at once, but I do believe that we can have everything we work hard for, in due season. I’m learning each and every day that it’s ok to enjoy today, this very moment in time, even while my “big dream” is still far off. I’m mastering the art of “enjoying the journey”. There’s glory in savoring small successes and hoping for the future, while being fully content in today…
Today’s interview is with world-changer Sera Bonds. She is an activist, midwife, and female phenom. Sera has such a poetic way with words that make reading her story more like listening to the lyrics of a song. She illustrates a beautiful narrative of her life and upbringing, that I know you’ll be reflecting on for days to come. Her life and legacy will resonate with you on so many levels.
Here’s my interview with Sera Bonds, Founder & CEO of Circle of Health International, founded in 2004.
AM: Please introduce yourself.
SB: Hi, I am Sera Bonds. I am a mother, wife, sister, activist, CEO, entrepreneur, avid reader, devotee of lakes, and JewBu. I really like to make soup and meditate, but I don’t do either as often as I used to. I don’t like to eat cheese or bread but I will if you invite me over for dinner and serve it to me. I read everything. I judge people who don’t vote and are cranky travelers. I don’t own a hairdryer. I love tea, midcentury architecture, big trees, wide open spaces, and chaotic third world cities. I still use the towels that I took to swim practice when I was sixteen years old. I want to write a novel and run for public office.
AM: What sparked your passion for global women’s health?
SB: I feel like the spark was lit in me as a young girl in Arkansas in a family where poverty, violence, and a lack of education restricted most of the women I was related to. That being said, I was raised by a radical feminist single mother who saw the fate that awaited my sister and I in this antiwoman southern setting, took us away from that fated path, and never looked back. My mother forged her own path in the white male dominated corporate world and brought my sister and myself along with her. There was one political issue in our household: abortion. When I was 18 my mom took my sister and myself to Washington DC to march on the White House in support of Roe v. Wade and the activist in me was born. I ran the campus feminist organization in college in rural Montana. I went to work in a rural hospital in India in college and my white, western feminist lens through which I viewed everything was shattered. In those fires, the midwifery advocate in me was born. I then went to Boston University to get my Master’s degree in Public Health and focused my studies on women in war zones, and there, Circle of Health International was born. The rest is Herstory.
AM: Where are you seeing the greatest hurt or need for women right now (anywhere in the world)?
SB: Syria. Afghanistan. Gaza. Latin America.
AM: Please explain COHI’s mission.
SB: We work with midwives, mamas, and babies in the world’s hardest places.
AM: What’s in the future for COHI? Where do you see COHI 10 years from now?
SB: In 10 years we will have successfully sustained our incredible staff for a solid 10 years including paid maternity/paternity leave and a really good health insurance plan (raising funds to pay the staff that make the magic happen is one of the hardest parts of this work). We will have a multi million dollar social enterprise line of maternal + newborn related products supporting our programs. The war in Syria will be over. Gaza will no longer be under Israeli control. Women in Afghanistan will have access to quality health care. The millions of women and children fleeing violence around the world will be safe.
AM: What’s a typical day like for you?
SB: I wake up at about 4 am in a bed with at least one of my kids. It is most likely not the same bed I went to sleep in. My mind starts to run through the list of things I have to remember to do that day. I tell my head to be quiet, I listen to my kid sleeping next to me, and I go back to sleep. I get up at 7, get the kids ready for school and then walk them to their classrooms. I head to Barton Springs pool or the weight room at the neighborhood Y for 30 minutes of exercise. Then I check my email, that’s when the work day starts. I write an insane amount of email, I have meetings with incredibly interesting hard working folks across a wide range of professional and regions. I pack as much as I can into my day, and then at 4 PM I turn off all the notifications on my phone (unless we have a team in the field, then I never turn them off) and head to get the kids. We eat, we play, we swim, we play lego, we read. Before bed each night we say our gratitudes for what we feel grateful for that day, then they go to bed. I then binge watch Game of Thrones or documentaries on PBS, or read. Then snuggle in with my sexy, Pediatrician hubby, and we wait for the first kid to come crawling in and for the routine to begin again. And at some point I ate some food, drank too much coffee and tea, and probably some chocolate. And sometimes I get up in the middle of the night for calls with our partners in other time zones. That happens, for sure.
AM: What’s been your greatest accomplishment to date?
SB: Raising kind, loving boys in this violent distracting world. I am crazy proud of the work at COHI, for sure, but I really feel that the most important thing I will do in this life is raise my kids. That and world peace, right?
AM: What is COHI’s greatest difficulty in providing support and supplies to those in crisis?
SB: Funding, always funding. Doing reproductive health in war zones is a hard sell. Especially in Syria and Gaza, no one will pay for it. It makes it very hard to do the quality work that we are committed to doing when we are rarely fully funded. Our partners are incredible, and after 12 years the programming that we do is solid. The funding is what keeps me up at night, that and ensuring that everyone that I am responsible for is accounted for and safe.
AM: How can the Global Tribe of Women ease this difficulty?
SB: Help us raise money. That doesn’t mean that YOU have to write a check, if you feel that you can’t. But please do, if you can. Talk about COHI, have a dinner party for us. Run a race for us. Bake cookies for us. Shop for us! There are loads of ways: http://www.cohintl.org/and then go to the “take action” tab. There are loads of options. We are a grassroots focused organization, everyone’s effort matters and there are so, so many ways to help.
AM: What book(s) are you currently reading?
SB: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond and Boys Adrift: The five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving men by Leonard Sax.
AM: What do you do to relax?
SB: Water, any form: lakes, pools, tubs, oceans, puddles, rivers.
Thank you Sera for giving the Global Tribe of Women a glimpse into your life and motivation.
As I mentioned in my introductory article for Circle of Health International, I am partnering with COHI throughout the month of August. 15% of sales in my shoppe will go to further the training and resources they provide to midwives and health workers around the globe. Also use code: cohi10 at checkout to receive $10 off your total purchase in the shoppe.