Home Health “This is really history in the making.” Harambee Birth and Family Center...

“This is really history in the making.” Harambee Birth and Family Center to host open house on Saturday

Tia Murray, executive director of Harambee Birth and Family Center (Photo supplied)

“Saturday’s event is a long time coming. The open house will really just let the public know what we’ve been working on for the last five years as a collective,” Tia Murray, executive director of the Harambee Birth and Family Center, tells Madison365. “We’re officially and publicly opening the doors to the Harambee Birth and Family Center. This is really history in the making.”

The Harambee Birth and Family Center (HBFC) Open House will take place Saturday, Oct. 22, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at Harambee Birth and Family Center, 2423 American Lane. The mission of the new HBFC is to once again create a drop in Black infant deaths and improve birth outcomes and community health by providing access to community-based, culturally situated, one-stop-shop, comprehensive, and holistic health care and family support for birthing families in Wisconsin.

Tia Murray, executive director of Harambee Birth and Family Center (Photo supplied)

Along with the community clinic, the Harambee Birth and Family Center also houses the TNT Family Resource Center.

“The Harambee Birth and Family Center consists of two main components … it’s really expanding the work that our family resource center has done over the last five years, but also expanding our maternal and child health care services,” Murray says. “So for a while, we’ve had our Harambe Village Doulas program, but we wanted to do more. We wanted to take that a few steps further. 

‘And so the other half of the Harambee Birth and Family Center really consists of that doula programming and midwives and a lactation clinic,” Murray continues. “And so really wanting to expand access for families in hopes of really recreating a one-stop shop feel like the Harambe Center used to have on Madison’s South Side back in the day, and really building off of the work that Miss Betty [Banks] and others did in the community in Madison.”

Murray is also the co-founder and CEO of Harambee Village Doulas, a community-based doula agency that provides pregnancy, birth, and lactation support to mothers and birthing families in Wisconsin. HVD also provides doula training and consultation.

“With the new edition of midwifery services, we are now a community clinic and we’re the first Black-led community clinic in Dane County, that I’m aware of, really focusing on impacting birth outcomes for Black families, but really for birthing people across Wisconsin,” Murray says.

The Harambee Birth and Family Center will be an important organization in lessening racial disparities in infant mortality and overall health.

“We already know that doulas are impacting birth outcomes in a very positive way. And we’ve also seen that as well in our own work and our own outcomes. What we also know is that midwifery care also produces better birth outcomes globally,” Murray says. “There’s actually some literature that says our traditional obstetric care is actually doing more harm and I think we’re seeing that in the outcomes and in the numbers. And so not only combining the work that doulas do and the work that midwives do, we know that we’re going to have an impact on pregnancies and on outcomes. 

“The other piece about that is we talk a lot about Black infant mortality; we don’t talk as much about Black maternal mortality which is like five times more likely to happen to Black women in Wisconsin than white women,” she continues. “And according to a recent report from DHS [Department of Health Services] around maternal mortality and morbidity data, nearly 97 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in Wisconsin were preventable. And so we are really going to focus in where all of the gaps exist in our current health care ecosystem in Dane County from prenatal care through birth, having access to doulas and midwives, and then in that postpartum period.”

Betty Banks (left) talks with Hershey Barnett, the lactation consultant at Harambee Birth and Family Center

Murray adds that there is so much that happens immediately postpartum, within those 42 days after birth, where they are seeing women dying from pregnancy-related causes. 

“So we are creating a really robust postpartum care model in partnership with our doulas, our midwives and our nurses,” she adds. “And we even have an M.D. that we’ve added to our clinical team to really expand that clinical care… that continuity of care … to really focus in especially in that postpartum period and really being able to provide that care in people’s homes or at our center to just really mitigate that continuity of care gap that we have here in Dane County for all birthing people, but especially for Black women.”

Saturday’s Open House will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with a program at 11:30 a.m. There will be tours of our Harambee Birth and Family Center which includes TNT Family Resource Center and the Community Care Clinic (Midwifery Clinic; Doula Clinic and Lactation Support.) There will be light refreshments and door prize giveaways.

“Saturday’s event will have some guest speakers, some families who will talk about the care they’ve received. We will have lots of activities and we’ll also be providing guided tours of our new facility that we’re opening to the public,” Murray says. “We are really excited about it.”


To register for the Harambee Birth and Family Center Open House, click here.