The sunset last night was amazing. I sat watching the red blaze go down in the western sky and wondered how many sunsets like this one I would get to see from this country that is so beautiful and so fraught with turmoil. I didn’t have my camera with me and snapped an iPhone pic … and much to my amazement, the sun in the captured image was in the shape of a heart!
After watching the sunset, I sat out front of our hotel and waited for the armed guard to do his rounds. I don’t know why, but this guy just makes me smile. As far as I can tell, there’s only one armed guard at our hotel … and he shows up in the funniest of places. One night, Lisa and I were walking back to our room and he was standing in the shadows of the path … machine gun — or semi-automatic or whatever it is — at the ready. “Bonsoir,” we said. “Bonsoir,” he said in a friendly voice. Anyhow, as I waited for him, I was overwhelmed with the dichotomy of living conditions in this little corner of the world. Our hotel, with it’s security guard, restaurant, and air conditioned rooms … and, across the street, a few blocks of tent neighborhood. Sad, but true. The more I’ve thought about this, the more it has struck me that this irony plays out no matter where you are in the world. The rich next to the poor. It doesn’t matter if you are in a developed country, a transitional country, or a developing country … It makes me cry, that I can’t make it better for everyone. But, in one little way, perhaps Train Midwives Save Lives can make a difference for moms and babies and midwives. If even one life is saved because of this work, then it is all worth it.
Today is Thursday! I expected time to move very quickly while we are here. But, it’s not. I think it’s the heat! Or, maybe it’s because my brain is in overdrive, trying to assimilate all that is and has happened. Liz and Dana fly back to the USA today. They have been a delight to travel with and have, I’m sure, taken amazing videos and notes of our activities over the past few days. Their smiling faces will certainly be missed for the remainder of the trip.
John picks us up and we head out of the city toward Prospere. I’m able to notice a lot more details of the trip this time, perhaps because I’ve been down this road before. Jean and I note that there actually are power lines all the way out to the village. We had been discussing whether or not the village had power since we were here on Monday. I count the wells that we pass and see three for sure. We pass a voodoo temple, which Lisa points out, and I wonder how she knows it’s a voodoo temple. The voodoo practices are something I would like to learn more about, as I’m sure the beliefs permeate birth practices, at least in some areas. Again I am awed by the beautiful crops that we pass as we near Prospere. It pleases my heart to know that these people are growing good food.
After a little over an hour’s drive, we pull up to John’s clinic and the concrete gazebo next to it is once again filled with women! Beautiful pregnant women and their midwives! We bring out our trusty flash cards and spend some time talking with the group about different birth scenarios. Twins, breech, cephalic birth. What is hemorrhage? How is the cord cut? Because this group is a mix of pregnant women and midwives, the discussion is lively, but in a different way than it was with the group of only-midwives in Simone Pele. When we take out our models of babies at different weeks gestation, the reception is not as warm as it was when we were with the midwife-only group. At first, I am perplexed. But then an older lady who is standing off to my right tells me that some of the women are scared of the models because they are so life-like and are the same size as babies often are when they are stillborn. I really appreciated her insight. … and it raises the question: How often *do* these women miscarry or birth still babies before term?
After some time teaching, we give each pregnant mama her clean birth kit so that the midwife will have gloves and a new razor for their birth. Then, we invite the midwives into the clinic.
Four lovely, hardworking ladies come with us. One of them was the midwife who had brought in a woman “in labor” on our previous day here. I am so happy to see her back!
As we talk with this little group of midwives, I snap a picture with my iPhone that is probably my FAVORITE picture from the whole trip … I call it “hard working feet” We spend most of our time with these ladies talking about what they want from training (recognition from the government that they are legitimate care providers). It is interesting that the midwives here are apparently women instead of men or a mix. This village is really too far away from the city to transport a woman who is in dire need of higher-level care. These midwives really need to be trained in how to stop hemorrhage and provided an avenue to have access to drugs like pitocin for stopping hemorrhage I am very curious to find out how they deal with excess bleeding, but decide to leave these questions for another day. I wonder if there are local plants that can be used?
In the end, we share the last few birth kits that we have available. We give each midwife 15 kits and leave another 30 with John to hand out as they need them. A quick picture to lock this moment in time and we head back to the city. One burning question: HOW DO THESE LADIES KEEP THEIR WHITE CLOTHES WHITE?!?!?!