As a community collaborator for CHAMPS, Zola works as a liaison with the Northeast Mississippi Birthing Project. The thing she enjoys the most about being a part of CHAMPS “is the active, focused collaboration between community health workers and hospitals. I tell birth workers/breastfeeding advocates often: hospitals and obstetricians are NOT our enemy! When everyone (nurses, LCs, OBs, hospital administrators) comes to the table willing to review evidence, listen to each other, and make the best decisions regarding a better birth and breastfeeding experience that is when progress is made.”
When asked what she felt was her biggest accomplishment thus far working with CHAMPS Zola replied, “At the beginning of March 2015, myself, Anne, and Laura of the CHAMPS team were in Tupelo to tour our local women's hospital and have a meeting with the staff to discuss the possibility of our hospital pursuing a Baby-Friendly Hospital designation. I was able to see the hospital at work in a different way than I normally would as a doula attending a birth, and have more in-depth conversations with staff members. It was very gratifying to have the opportunity for all of us to sit together and begin building relationships; it was even more exciting to see all of the work that our doctors, nurses, and LCs are already doing which puts our hospital well on its way to achieving a Baby-Friendly status!”
“Before I even look to the future, I think it’s wonderful how many smaller, more rural hospitals are interested in and excited about the work that CHAMPS is doing in Mississippi! Normally I would have expected larger hospitals to come on board first, with rural locations being hesitant. Looking ahead to the future of CHAMPS, I would love to see 100% of Mississippi hospitals participating (of course!), and I would also love to maintain a connection that could be helpful in supporting the development of multiple community-based breastfeeding peer groups.”
When Zola gets a chance to enjoy her vast amounts of spare time, which may be an understatement, she works as spiritual facilitator/ceremony-maker, creating mixed-media art, and belly dancing! Her enjoyment for these hobbies warrants her desire to travel to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea; in order to study and spend time in the Hypogeum, a prehistoric underground temple with interesting spiritual implications regarding birth and death. Although Zola doesn’t have children her passion for helping individuals translates to her giving care to several aging family members. She often finds her becoming her mother and saying very parental things.
“I am very happy to have made friends through the CHAMPS program, and I look forward to carrying the mission further than any of us can imagine!” Thank you Zola for all of the work and time you invest in making the Mississippi Delta Baby-Friendly. We couldn’t let your work go unnoticed.