Lena Perenchio About

Lena Perenchio About

Lena Perenchio About

My passion for reproductive health and justice is rooted in a childhood traveling alongside my mother, a humanitarian photographer, and helping pack her camera equipment across five continents. When I was 11, I accompanied her to Kenya, where I witnessed how the cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) strips women and girls of their health and social rights. 

FGM, a coming-of-age ritual practiced in many cultures, is a surgical procedure that limits sexual pleasure and consequently, ensures a woman’s virginity before marriage and fidelity afterwards. The risks include pain, infection, urinary incontinence, childbirth complications, and death. In addition, this practice perpetuates other harmful ones, notably childhood marriage. From a young age, I was acutely aware how these practices severely curtail a woman’s personal growth and freedom. 

In a desire to remain in a place of understanding instead of judgement, I chose to further explore this topic for an independent project in school, which equipped me with an understanding of why FGC continues today. Additionally, I learned how the degradation of women harms entire cultures. The greater impact this practice had on communities as a whole left me determined to combat FGM directly through fieldwork. Consequently, for my extended project senior year, I traveled to Kenya to work for native Kenyan, Mercy Musomi. She is the Executive Director of Girl Child Network Kenya, an organization devoted to improving women and children’s health and social rights. Mercy paired me with her field coordinator, Peris Mootian, a Massai woman whose story highlights the importance of eradicating FGM. Determined to continue her education and reach full human potential, Peris refused FGM, and convinced her parents to support her decision. She ultimately graduated college at the top of her class and returned home to help others successfully grow. 

Working alongside Peris taught me the importance of education as a tool for securing human rights. Our work consisted of holding classes on human anatomy, rights, and dignity. Through this, I learned firsthand that outsiders cannot demand change, but that they can help educate people and equip them with knowledge so that they can make informed decisions. From this experience emerged my deep passion for reproductive justice, specifically how to use education to ensure women and girls achieve bodily autonomy. I want to effect change through education—rather than through judgement and criticism—for all types of reproductive and social issues, an approach that remains at the core of my work as a Birth Doula. 

In college at USC, I double-majored in International Relations and Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Change, exploring further the intersection of women’s and children’s health and social rights in a global context. During the summers, I interned for Every Mother Counts, Women Deliver, and Chain Camera Productions, organizations whose missions align with my passions. In the spring of my junior year, I took my studies overseas to the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where I supplemented classes with an internship at BRAVE, an organization “dedicated to giving girls the agency they need to lead.” My time in Cape Town showed me how a compassionate and intersectional approach beats a singular one for effecting change.

Lena Perenchio About

Inspired by my work and education, in the fall of 2016,  I completed Doula’s of North America-International  (DONA-International) Certified Training with Ana Paula Markel, Bini Birth Founder and DONA President. Then, in 2018-2019, I completed a full-spectrum doula training with the LA Doula Project; an advanced doula training with Giuditta Tornetta, founder of Joy in Birthing Foundation; and an Embodied Trauma and Resilience Informed Care Training. As I developed my own practice as a Birth Doula, I sought the mentorship of Carmen Bornn-Vincze, a like-minded Advanced Doula. She became instrumental to my real-world understanding and growth as a Birth Doula. Most recently, in 2020, I participated in an International Doula Immersion Program, Wombs of the World

Wombs of the World gifted me with a deep awareness of how reproductive and maternal health are the common denominators of humanity. While I intuited this bond in childhood, my understanding crystallized while I lent support to women I had never met. I found it almost miraculous that I could walk into a delivery room, form an intimate bond with a birthing person, and become emotionally intertwined with her immediately. While we may differ in language and culture, all people share in the awe birth inspires. Although universal, it remains magical.

Because true health comes from a balance of physical and mental wellbeing—including during the birthing process—I also sought to deepen my understanding of yoga and develop expertise in its practice. I became a certified yoga instructor, completing a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Yogaworks, and an 85-hour Pre and Postnatal Yoga Teacher training with MA Yoga. Throughout these courses, I delved into the nuances behind using breath and movement to reduce stress and inflammation, increase blood flow and concentration, and strengthen mind and body.

In addition to my work as a Birth Doula and Yoga Instructor, I contribute to the Global Women’s Narratives Project, which is dedicated to recording women’s stories. In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina to interview women who lived through the Bosnian genocide. My work in these countries solidified my belief that storytelling can create new perspectives and therefore change lives. 

Education, social justice, and storytelling are at the core of human empowerment, and I combine my knowledge of all these elements in my Birth Doula and Yoga practices.

    Education & Experience

  1. 85 Hour Pre & PostNatal Yoga Teacher Training (April 2021)
  2. DONA Certified Birth Doula
  3. Wombs of the World, Karatu, Tanzania (January 2020)
  4. Embodied Trauma & Resilience Informed Care for Doulas Training (October-November 2019)
  5. 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training (October-November 2019)
  6. Advanced Doula Training, Joy in Birthing Foundation (April 2019)
  7. Full Spectrum Doula Training, LA Doula Project (April 2019)
  8. Bachelor of Arts in International Relations & NGOs and Social Change (2018)
  9. DONA International Training
  10. Summer Intern, Every Mother Counts (2015)
  11. Summer Intern, Women Deliver (2015)