#FutureFemmeSage: Stephanie "Be" Joseph



"There is a secret in our culture and it’s not that birth is painful, but that women are strong” Laura Stavoe

I knew I was called to Midwifery before I even knew what Midwifery was.  

Let's take a blast to the past when I told my sisters how important it was for me to have their placentas after giving birth. If they didn't want it, that is. They were both confused and per usual thought i was crazy. As the middle child of 5, being crazy was nothing new to me. Something shifted in me that day. Honestly I don't know how I even knew about placentas. Maybe i heard it somewhere, or maybe it was the sweet whisper from my beloved spirit. The research began shortly after. From watching animals give birth on the animal planet. To watching women give birth on TLC. My mother who is a nurse. Even took me with her to work on bring your daughter to work day. Which of course this was the perfect opportunity to ask as many questions as i could think of.



Growing up I have always been aware of my divine feminine energy and the ability i had to strongly express myself. Which as a young Haitian women came with its obstacles. I was also quick to notice when other young women were not able to channel their inner voices. I stood up for those women, and we grew into our bodies together. I strongly believe that we all should stand together, empower, up lift, guide, encourage and support one another. It is through this that we will be guided back to our roots and the divinity within one another.

The fascination of reproductive health continued as i journeyed through a Vo Tech High School focused on Healthcare. Convinced that I was going to be a OB-GYN. Shortly after doing research I became aware of how much conventional schooling i would have to endure. Which I was not excited about at all. I was not aware of the different paths that could be taken to become a midwife, or even having the option to be a Doula. Without even knowing i Doula-ed for a friend in high school. I didn’t get to keep her placenta, but it was a life changing experience.



After graduating from high school I returned to teach a “Girls 101” class. Where I facilitated a sacred therapeutic space for young teens to express themselves and showcase their creativity through dance. I feel in love with the sacred sisterhood, the trust, the transformation with all of the inside work that was being done. I wanted to do more.The question was how? Our classes came to an end. These amazing young women all left to graduate. I left with my hair chopped off and a whole new perspective of life.

Avoiding the conventional schooling I found myself journeying through beauty school where i believed that this was a part of the transformation for women. I thought this could suffice my calling to become a Midwife. After becoming licensed as a cosmetologist and working in a few hair salons. I knew this just wasn’t enough. My spirit was not satisfied.



My soul work ignited the day my niece transitioned to the physical world.  I supported my sister in every way that i could, but it just didn't feel like enough.  I felt very strong that the treatment she received at the hospital could’ve been better. In so many ways.  Was it because she was a young black women? Did they think she was uneducated?? Why were so many nurses involved? Why were there so many people in the room?  So many questions fluttered my mind.

With the belief that the environment you are born into sets the tone for the rest of your life. I took a vow this day to honor that belief. To find the answers to those questions and support other women, their families and mine too. So we are armed with knowledge to make informed decisions. That aren’t made from fear.

“ If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any” . After searching for a Doula training that would align with my philosophy, I later trained with Ancient Songs Doula Services with Chanel- Porchia and Patricia Thomas based in Brooklyn NY. Then I volunteered at a local hospital as a Doula for young moms.The universe threw me in shortly after that I trained with Mercy In Action with the Penwells based in Idaho. I become a Certified Childbirth Educator through GentleBIrth Institute. I’ve trained with Boston Doula ProjectPAIL with Nnkea Hall and ROSE. Along this journey I have been blessed to have met so many amazing humans. Built some amazing sisterhoods.  

So much has been learned. I am fortunate to have been able to quiet my mind and open my heart to such a magical calling.



Currently I am Doula-ing all over Massachusetts and apprenticing with some local phenomenal midwives . I’m assisting mamas everywhere. Hosting sacred meetups for mamas

“ Just Be- Mamas United ” where women can come together and build with each other. My goal is to continue supporting mamas in my community. Create networks to connect women and families. It truly takes a village!

Being haitian to me is somewhere in between being bold and being humble. Sorry Kendrick sometimes I don’t feel like sitting down. Haiti was the first colony to gain it’s independence in 1804. I have the blood of warriors flowing through my veins. Goosebumps take over whenever I think of this. Being haitian to me means being connected to the sounds of the drums that my ancestors danced their way into freedom to. Being haitian means we all eat when mom cooks,  no one is left out. Being haitian means dancing once you hear kompa. Being haitian is enjoying the sweet taste of sugar cane. Being haitian is listening to your mom when she has a dream. Being haitian is serenity in the ability to allow creole to flow freely through my mouth. The language created by my people.  Being haitian reminds me to Just Be - Just Be still and allow the energy of my people to guide me and walk with me as my heart beats purposely.

My hopes for Haiti’s reproductive health system is to continue training midwives and educating haitian people. I hope to take part in one of these trainings.  Unfortunately Haiti has one of the highest maternal death rate. Which leave many children orphaned in their first weeks of life. This is scary. The reality is we need more help, we need more hands on deck. This needs to change and I hope to be apart of this!



If you can give one piece of advice in terms of becoming and/or being a midwife what would it be?

Whether Midwifery is a calling or a hobby stay open to whatever your path needs from you to unfold.

If you were a superhero what would your power be?

My superpower would be my intuition. I'd be Intuitive Girl.

Birth is... a right of passage

Womanhood is... my identity.

Motherhood is... a Journey

What is your favorite part of your body and why?

My feet because they bravely takes the lead and guides me to places where I'm sometimes not ready to be .

If you could live anywhere on earth, where would you live?

Somewhere warm, where I can walk barefoot, swing in a hammock and enjoy ocean/mountain views.

What’s your favorite song and why?

I get out- Lauryn Hill. Always a refreshing reminder to release myself from conforming to the boxes society tends to place us in.

What is the best thing about your life right now?

The best thing about my life right now is certainly my journey of healing thyself. 

What do you do for self care?

Self care for me is a daily practice. I wake up really early every morning and meditate. It’s vital for me to open myself up to the day and set the tone. Throughout the day, I remember to check in with myself to assure I am getting what I need emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.



Motherhood. Haiti. Fashion. #ManmanKreyol

Name: Joelle Fontaine

Birth place: Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

Current Residency: Boston, MA

Occupation: Fashion Designer/ Entrepreneur

I became a mother when I was 20 years old. My son was breech and I had low amniotic fluid, so I had to have a c-section. I went in one morning see my doctor and set an appointment for the c-section five days later, and then that same evening- I went into labor. The experience was interesting. I gave birth at a teaching hospital, so I was surrounded by students on the operating table. I couldn’t see the operation (of course). I probably would have gone into shock to see a baby being removed from my body. But, I could feel everything. I was awake. My ex-husband was taping the whole experience and was fascinated, telling me when the doctors were taking out my uterus and what it looked like. I felt pulling and tugging- no pain (I had been given the epidural) but lots of pressure. The room was bright (too bright) and it felt somewhat impersonal to have all of these students at the front row of such a personal, private moment in my life. But, once I heard my son cry, nothing really mattered. Everything was Perfect!... Isaiah Gabriel Jean-Fontaine was born at 12:01 a.m. on April 27th, 2001, and my whole world was transformed.

Through motherhood, I have learned that I am enough. I think we often think we have to be perfect- especially in our culture. There are so many stigmas as to who you “should” be-- how you “should” raise your children. As a young mom, I was really afraid that I would fail. I thought of myself as such an irresponsible human being and now I was gifted with this child. What if I messed his whole world up? What if I couldn’t handle it? I knew nothing about taking care of a baby. Hell, I was a baby… I remember the 1st time he got sick with a cold and I placed Vick’s vapor rub on his chest. He immediately turned bright red and started screaming on top of his lungs. We were alone and I had no idea what to do. I started to rub it off his chest but he continued to wail and then I began to cry right along with him. He was maybe 3 months old. When it was said and done, he was left with a rash all over his chest that then turned into a scar. I was devastated.


Today, at 16, there is no scar on his chest. So many things that I thought were major mistakes on my part, he has no idea ever happened- no recollection. But, what he does remember is me loving him, listening to him, speaking to him like a human being- treating him like a friend, and teaching him about God. It’s all the simple things that have shaped him and made all the difference in our world. He never needed me to be supermom (those are societal views we unconsciously adopt). Me simply being there and loving him was more than enough.

My hope for my son is that he lives a life where he is blissfully happy. That sounds like a simple thing, but think to yourself how many people you know that are truly living out their purpose in life, making a good living doing so and being used by God to the fullest. We are all here for a reason- all a part of the bigger picture. My hope is that he finds his purpose quickly and spends his life fulfilling it. That is happiness.

My son taught me to let things go and to love unconditionally- not only others, but most importantly- he taught me how to love myself.

I honestly don’t think I can describe this in words what it means to be Haitian. It’s not exactly something you read and/or write. It’s something you feel. It’s coconut juice running down your chin, or picking sugar cane fibers from your teeth, or the smell of salty water mixed with fried fish and bannan. It’s that feeling you get on the inside when a Kompa song is playing and that funny sounding instrument comes on and your fingers motion like you’re playing the guitar. It’s that moment when you’re tired as hell at 3am but you stay up til 6am to finish your paper because “good” is never good enough. “Best” is the only option. It’s when everything seems to be going wrong and all of the elders (and now you and your friends) gather up for jeune and bring it all to God. It’s a father working 20-30 years as a taxi driver to put his kids through school and to provide a good home for his wife (because education, ownership, legacy is everything). It’s resilience at the face of adversity- community above all.

I am a Haitian woman living in America, because I am highly influenced by Haitian culture to the core. It’s a really interesting dynamic actually because both cultures have shaped me, but I had somewhat of an identity crisis on my hands trying to define and figure out where I belong in the spectrum. I have never felt at home in America, but when I go to Haiti, even though I was born there-  I am a foreigner- diaspora. They call me “Ti fi blanc”, which means “white girl”. So, for a while, I never felt like I belonged anywhere-- that is until I realized that “home” is within. So I am influenced by both Haiti and America. I am Haitian born, have lived in America for almost 30 years, but til’ this day I am still a permanent resident- not a citizen- also known as an “alien”. So, that is what I identify myself as- an alien.

I think Haitian women/ mothers are regal. I am reminded of the older Haitian women back home I’d see on their way to the market early in the morning with their baskets on their heads- no hands- back straight- beautifully patterned garments. The clothes may be torn, but they are always clean. That’s what I think of Haitian women-- hard-working beings that do what they got to do, and even when everything is not peachy, they still hold their heads up high like the queens they are.

My mom has taught me many things, but without ever saying a word- she has taught me to be a virtuous woman and a great mom. With her sacrifices and resilience, she has been such an awesome example of strength and character. Most importantly- my mom has allowed me to be myself. That is the greatest gift that any parent can give to their children-- acceptance and room for them to truly be who they are and to flourish into who they are destined to be.

My hope for Haiti is that more of the diaspora returns home to build-- to work with the youth to change the mindset that has permeated our culture since the beginning of time. Colonialism has taught us to resent ourselves (maybe not out right, but there’s an underlying complex) Haitians are not taught to acquire education and return home to contribute to development, economic growth, urban planning in the ways that other foreign groups (such as Asians or Indians) do with their countries. In Haiti, we go to the US, Paris, Canada, get our education and stay there to build someone else’s territory. We have a beautiful country, with many resources and the potential for success. Everyone else sees that but us. Foreigners are building businesses in Haiti and taking over, while we are sleeping. There have been talks of Haiti becoming an American territory. How devastating that would be!! To be the first liberated black republic only to give up that legacy to American rule? My hope for Haiti is reconstruction of not only the land itself but of the values of the people.

My style is honest. I dress how I feel. Sometimes it’s simple and quiet and other times it’s bold and damn right obnoxious. It just depends on how I feel that day. But, I believe that my style is always rooted with vintage inspiration from my upbringing- the women I saw growing up, going to church with large hats and lace gloves, bold colors and patterns, heels with full a-line skirts. I have partnered that with my love of Asian cultural elements and masculine androgynous touches to create a style that fits ME. I love lace dresses and combat boots (Yes. Together) and men’s jackets with heels, wide brim bowler hats with fitted dresses. I believe that I am an oxymoron by nature and my style is a reflection of my being.

Though I have always loved and admired fashion, I did not out seek to have a career in this industry. For most of my youth, I was in love with architecture. I thought I was going to be a major architect building stucco homes in Cap Haitien, Italy and South of France :) Fashion chose me. I started to sew simply as means to express my creativity and just stay sane when I was home with my son in his early years. It turned out to be my gift. Fashion is great as a means of expression, but what attracts me the most to the industry is the possibility for forward advancement and economic growth through garment production and artistry. I always saw my work as a way for me to one day be able to go back to Haiti and contribute to the economic development of women. 

I Am Kreyol is a high fashion label that utilizes fashion as a means for social impact. Our goal is to utilize beautiful design and garment production as a catalyst for change for disenfranchised women in the US, Haiti and abroad. We aim to teach production skills to impoverished women so that are equipped with the means for sustainable living through art. We are a small company, but growing quickly. Most recently we were featured as one of the top Haitian designers to know by Teen Vogue (http://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/haitian-designers-to-know-about) and named “Best of Boston” in fashion by the Improper Bostoninan (http://www.improper.com/bostons-best/2016/fashion/clothing-designer/joelle-jean-fontaine/).