Who We Are
MANA Pasefika is a doula program created by and for Pacific Islanders of Melanesian, Micronesian , and Polynesian (See MAP) descent working as community birth attendants in San Francisco whose purpose is to Maintain Ancestral Knowledge and Autonomy in our communities.
To revive the safe, healthy and joyful birth culture of the Pacific Islander community in San Francisco and beyond. Our work centers around equipping our birthing families with the skills to successfully navigate the western medical system while grounding this rite of passage in the customs and sacred cultural understandings of our ancestors. Our appointments focus on birth as a family and community event so we invite participation and use this time to foster new ways of relating to and supporting one another that ensure resilience in our families and cultures.
Birth is a ceremony that maintains the VA and is an opportunity to draw on the thread of existence from our past in the form of traditional birth practices and caretaking into the present and future generations. We understand birth as a natural part of life so our support rests upon the empowerment of the birthing person within the container of our community. Reclaiming indigenous ways of seeing ourselves and our experiences is both an act of resistance and a responsibility that we carry with pride.
My name is Ruta Lauleva Lua’iufi Aiono. My family comes from Fasito’o-uta and Malie on my father’s side and from San Francisco, CA on my mother’s side. I grew up in Japan, Samoa, the Bay Area and Rochester, NY. I have been supporting birthing families since 2013 with the birth of my god-child and spent 3 of those years working as an apprentice midwife with Diane Gregg in Southern Arizona serving families from Sonora, Mexico. Learning under Diane I experienced what uninterrupted, unmedicated birth looks like and I bring this sense trust in the birthing body to my clients. Since returning to the Bay Area I have worked with Roots of Labor out of Oakland serving low-income and POC families and I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity to now serve my PI community. I have also been blessed to study under Mimi Kamp, an elder herbalist who held space for me to learn to be quiet and observe as the primary way to understand imbalance, and to sit with the plants as the primary way to understand their medicine. I am excited to support families in birthing with dignity and joy by equipping them with the tools and language to navigate the hospital system while grounding them in the traditions of our ancestors.
I believe that pregnancy and birth are periods of transformation that imprint the infant and can shape the pregnant person and their family for their whole lives. I also believe that Hospital Culture is its own culture, inherently based in colonization, white supremacy and capitalism and that This is why we see more negative birth outcomes for our people. My work as a birth companion centers around supporting BIPOC families to have autonomy within the medical system- the confidence to make informed decisions about their bodies and experiences, the support to impart these rites of passage with cultural values and protocol if they so desire. As a Samoan person I was raised to serve my elders and my community: ‘O le ala i le pule o le tautua’ – The path to leadership is through service. By working with SisterWeb I hope to both honor my family and uplift my culture.