While I had become an Embrace volunteer to walk alongside refugee women through their pregnancy and birth experiences, I was often the one who was welcomed and cared for in ways that I will never forget. I remember sitting in doctors' offices with women and then returning to a joy-filled, cramped apartment to eat spicy noodles or drink sweet tea while my new friend would share stories about previous birth experiences in a refugee camp, clinic, or at home. I remember accompanying women to give birth in the hospital, one such time a Congolese mother quietly birthed her sixth baby while the nurse scrambled to put on gloves and call for the doctor. I learned a lot about the different traditions that surround birth and welcoming a new child into the world, such as the naming rituals common in Bhutanese tradition or the unique ways that women prefer to give birth in Somali or Karenni (a tribe from Burma) tradition. My support never looked the same; most of the time it involved helping to explain to a partner what a medical professional had said, or driving a woman and her family to and from medical appointments. Many times, my involvement was on the receiving endas I was continually invited into homes for meals, family celebrations, cultural holidays, and other special occasions. Ultimately, It was an honor to be welcomed into these families' homes during one of the most intimate experiences of a woman and family's life: childbirth.
~ Amber Oda, Embrace Volunteer 2011-2012