Kay Sandberg’s Global Force For Love, Compassion and Healing In The Birth Community
Each time we run into Kay Sandberg, founder and president of Global Force for Healing, we’ve been intrigued by her unique approach to improving maternal health. She’s creating a global network of maternal health organizations where the central guiding force is love.
Global Force for Healing helps grassroots organizations scale up and become sustainable while creating partnerships and mentorships among organizations doing similar work. Its mission is to nurture, strengthen, connect, and communicate about grassroots projects that express compassion and love as powerful forces for wellbeing and social justice.
Sandberg and Global Force’s team of volunteers provide in-depth consulting, fundraising and proposal development assistance plus educational and networking opportunities for 11 projects in 12 countries. Kay says that Global Force provides “the wind beneath the wings” for projects that focus on reproductive justice and compassionate, healthy birth.
Global Force began during an intense spiritual experience Kay had in 2001 at a retreat in Brazil. She was inspired to establish a foundation to create global transformation and healing through compassionate action and the power of love. We chatted with Kay to learn more about how that turned into Global Force for Healing.
Every Mother Counts: Kay, your mission began as a broad vision that you’ve said helped you to realize love’s potential as a primary force for healing, transformation, and sustainability. What do you mean by that?
Kay: I mean that when we use the force of love to engage in the world intentionally and compassionately through direct action, we generate a profound shift toward healing, a return to wholeness.
Every Mother Counts: How did you decide to focus that force on the global birth community?
Kay: I’m a grandmother and mother. I’ve always been wired for global work, whether that’s in the non-profit, corporate or academic arena. At some point I realized that BIRTH IS the FIRST nexus of love for those who are fortunate. Not everyone is that lucky though, and that’s why 800 mothers die every day during pregnancy and childbirth. I was fortunate to have two beautiful birth experiences and two grandchildren who were also born into the lap of love. The human rights aspects of my good fortune and other women’s misfortune became clear to me. I realized that it’s going to take everyone’s effort to eliminate all preventable maternal deaths, and for all babies to survive and thrive regardless of where they are born.
Every Mother Counts: How did that realization lead to creating Global Force?
Kay: It was mainly through the grace of one person introducing me to someone else. Before I founded Global Force, I was the director of The Soul of Money Institute in San Francisco and an active volunteer for the Jungle Mamas/ Pachamama Alliance birthing program in Ecuadorian Amazon. That’s where I fell in love with the birthing world. Once I made my intention clear to improve maternal health, it was a matter of relationship building. I kept hearing about various visionary eco-friendly birth centers, initially in Tibet and Bali, then Uganda. All the projects I came in contact with had very similar needs. They were led by warm-hearted, lifelong birth professionals, usually midwives who were deeply committed and had solid trust relationships with a particular remote or indigenous community in Asia, Africa, Latin or Central America. They were all very well intentioned but many were also barely sustainable. They didn’t have the organizational structure or supportive networks needed to make it work long term. I realized my role was to bring these organizations together as a global network of similar groups that had been called to do this work AND invited into communities that need them. We chose to work with organizations that also demonstrate a high level of integrity in the way they raise money and accomplish their goals.
Every Mother Counts: Global Force is in its fifth year. How has it grown?
Kay: We now have 11 projects in our healthy compassionate birthing network in 12 countries including Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, the far reaches of the Himalayas/India, The Philippines, Cameroon, Senegal, Sierra Leone, two locations in Uganda, Haiti and Indonesia where we work with another EMC partner, Bumi Sehat. We also team up with One Heart Worldwide in Nepal and formerly, Tibet. Some of our projects, like One Heart Worldwide and Bumi Sehat, are well established and provide advice for the newer, smaller non-profits. WE share information on how to scale up, deliver compassionate care and other information that can help all serve their grassroots communities better. We also gather organizations together for co-education and networking opportunities at least once per year to learn from each other and provide support to make women’s “voice and choice” regarding pregnancy and childbirth a universal human right. Our goal is to support each organization to become sustainable and thrive. Ultimately, it will take the force of love and a shift in thinking about what is possible to make good on our commitments.
Learn more here about Midwives for Haiti, Bumi Sehat, One Heart Worldwide and other organizations that EMC supports.