It all began May 2019 when I daringly submitted an abstract for the Annual Royal College of Midwives Conference. I was planning to present the work of Maternal Aid Association (Maa), a charity I was volunteering for at the time. Two months later I received an email which stated that my abstract had been selected for the conference and I would be presenting in September!
September 2019 was a busy month for me. Four years and several postcodes later I was now officially moving back home. I started a new job, my second as a midwife. And I was soon to be presenting at the Annual RCM Conference. I attended the conference alone, I knew no one there and I had no idea as to how my presentation would be received. The last time I had spoken in public was back in school. I was so nervous to be speaking to a room filled with over two hundred maternity professionals. Despite the nerves, I pulled it off and I realised how much I enjoyed speaking in front of large groups.
After my presentation, I wandered around moving from stall to stall and this is when I came across Benash, the only other hijabi I saw that day. We got lunch together, made a few remarks on the limited food options available to us and began to discuss my time in Bangladesh, midwifery, and the health inequalities that we often see. We had so many ideas of things we wanted to do; it was so nice to share these ideas with someone. That too someone who had just as much if not more passion about the topics we were discussing. Benash has been the first person I have come across in Midwifery who looked like me and was willing to guide and support me very early on in my career.
I knew that there was a midwife I really wanted to talk to, from looking at the conference line-up I knew that the experience and expertise she had would be invaluable. This was Nafiza. I had read all about her work in Bangladesh and I was looking forward to finding out more. Unfortunately, I had missed her but thanks to technology we arranged a meeting for later. A few weeks later and I was meeting with Nafiza in London, we sat and put the world to rights over tea and cake! We bonded over our experiences of maternity care in Bangladesh and once again the health inequalities that exist in maternity care. It was during this meeting that I thought about introducing Benash and Nafiza, we all had shared experiences and agreed that change was needed.
We communicated over WhatsApp until we decided to meet in Birmingham, halfway in distance for us all. This was October 2019. We sat down over lunch and discussed ways in which we could implement change. We bounced ideas off each other, we wanted to create a safe space for people to talk and share their experiences. We came up with the Association of South Asian Midwives (ASAM).
Over the coming months, we continued the dialogue over text. ASAM remained at the back of my mind for a while, with COVID and so much more going on I pressed pause. In June 2020, we regrouped and decided to launch on Instagram with birth experiences from the South Asian birthing community. We reached out to family, friends and began to share birth stories with the public. Some reassuring and some difficult to read. I was in awe at the response ASAM had received. So many people felt the same way. Individuals were speaking out, supporting us, and encouraging effective change. Most of my spare time was spent working on ASAM projects, collaborating with organisations, and recording podcasts. This was all off the back of an Instagram page.
Whilst the response was encouraging, Benash, Nafiza and I realised that we needed to do more. We wanted to make it official. We researched the best way forward and on October 19th 2020 we received confirmation that we were now a registered Community Interest Company.
For all of those who are wondering what ASAM is…
The Association of South Asian Midwives (ASAM) is a platform for the South Asian Midwifery Workforce and birthing community. Our visions are clear, we aim to:
- Collaborate with community projects with aligned values and goals.
- Create a platform for individuals from the South Asian community to share their birth/cultural experiences through various mediums.
- Research into the increased rate of South Asian mortality within maternity.
- Support more individuals from the South Asian community to consider Midwifery as a vocation.
The #NotMyName campaign launched in December 2020. The aim of this campaign was to raise awareness of the importance of a name and the importance of greeting someone with the right name (more on this later) …
ASAM has so many plans, I am so excited for what is to come! I often think back to the day I sent of the application to present at the RCM Conference. I never knew something so amazing would come from this.
ASAM is a way of giving back to my community and attempting to improve services and birth experiences for the future families.
“So, whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it.”
Surah Zalzalah (7), The Holy Quran
I relate everything back to my faith for it is my faith that keeps me going. With ASAM I aim to do something good and I have faith that good will come from this and things will change for the better in shaa Allah.
To keep up to date with ASAM…
Visit our website www.asamidwives.co.uk
Follow us on Instagram @asamidwives
Tweet us on Twitter @midwivesASAM