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Conversations with the Inspiring Ruth Jeannoel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruth Jeannoel.

Ruth, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When people ask me where I am from, I tell them that I was born in Cambridge, MA, by way of Haiti, by way of Benin and Nigeria in West Africa and now living in Miami. For years, really decades, I took care of everyone else but myself. I spent many of my days and nights caring for my family, my children and my community. Growing up in a single parent household, I watched my mother work 2-3 jobs just to make ends meet, hard work was all that I knew. As a mother, partner and nurturer, it was a natural trait of mine. I started working at the age of 13 and that became a regular part of my life. I would wake up bright and early, hop on the bus, in the snow in Cambridge, while my nose watered and with my sinus pressure up. This was the routine all throughout high school, college and even post-college. As I continued my career in Community Organizing and executing strategy sessions, towards rallies and protests, even as my head was pounding. I had to make it work. because there was so much injustice and so much at stake. Until, 4 years ago, where an unexpected life experience led me in a hospital bed. With God’s grace, I survived and vowed to take better care of myself. This meant that I had to put myself first. I mean, take care of myself, relax, be present, Yes, it all sounds good but how do I actually put that into practice.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One of the hardest lessons that I had to learn was taking time for me and oh my gosh, what a roller coaster. As a mother, wife, community organizer and quite frankly an adult, I had to learn to balance “self-care” and the reality of needing to work in order to pay all the bills. Yup. Adulting is a real thing. I learned that Community Care is really what I needed along with “doing the work” in a healthier way. A couple of years ago, my ancestors led me to start an organization to support me and other Black mothers and families with balancing self-care and community care and have stronger Wellness and Resiliency practices.

For anyone who is struggling to balance themselves, here are five simple things that one can do, I would advise them to:

  1. Check yourself: Make an assessment- what are ways that you can implement self-care practices in your daily
  2. Sit down with yourself: Start with a gratitude log, Journal/Meditate/Pray Daily or Regularly and ask yourself, what are you grateful for?
  3. Seek support: Identify someone to talk to other than your family and friends to learn more about ways to practice care
  4. Healing does not happen in isolation: Attend community events regularly: Fanm Saj holds monthly healing circles, contact FanmSajInc@gmail.comto RSVP for the next one!
  5. Connect with your ancestors and/or higher self: Most of the time, if you are led to care for yourself, chances are there are those in your family lineage who are seeking healing as well. This can be done simply by acknowledging and setting up an altar for them. Hit me up if need help figuring that out!

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a cultural organizer, Restorative Justice Circle keeper, and trainer, doula, writer, and healer. I have put most of my expertise in my new organization “Fanm Saj” which in the Haitian Creole Language means “Midwife” – in the literal term Fanm-means woman and Saj means gentleness. We know that Midwives catch babies and Fanm Saj, Inc as an organization exists to catch communities. I believe that all women are “Fanm Saj” whether we are doing this bycatch babies, supporting with new community initiatives or simply being a go-to person in a community. Our goal at Fanm Saj is to support individuals and families with reaching their fullest potential and reaching their purpose.

We do this by:

Providing Leadership Development Opportunities for Black Women and their families to practice Wellness and Resiliency through Sacred Healing Circles and African Healing arts as members tap into their expertise to practice various healing modalities with themselves and communities.

Education: Providing political education training and workshops to individuals and community so that people can become empowered by their own abilities and gain the confidence to fulfill their potential to create change in their own communities.

Capacity Building: Providing Restorative Justice circle keeping training for organizations and communities to have a tool to build community, address conflict, be accountable for creating safer and healthier communities towards Transformative Justice.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
Advice: My advice is simple. And in two parts: First, Trust yourself: If it doesn’t feel good, it isn’t. Second, Ask yourself, what are the traditions that your family and ancestors practiced before colonization? If you don’t know, seek them out. I have learned that Ifa is an African Tradition that my ancestors practiced long before colonization. This Yoruba practice from Nigeria, West Africa has helped me to understand that self-care is deeper than “self” and is really an exploration around destiny and purpose. Ask your higher self and God for a teacher, to support you along this journey. I’ll share you all with my Oluwo/Spiritual teacher, OBA AALA OBATALA OF USA and my God Mother, Ifawuyi Esuloju Eyioriwaase. Each day on this earth is a blessing, so, therefore, we have to be intentional with that blessing. Our main objective every day is to better understand what we are here to do and to reach our destiny.

Contact Info:

              Image Credit:
Marc Jeannoel with The Golden Black Sheep, Woosler Delisfort, Tanayiz Bertrand

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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