my my my, it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to research and write! Gearing up for some work in Niger, starting this fall. Brainstorming and researching how to help decrease mortality there. Here’s a good article:
my my my, it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to research and write! Gearing up for some work in Niger, starting this fall. Brainstorming and researching how to help decrease mortality there. Here’s a good article:
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?!?!?!
Our day today continues with a trip out to the village of Titanyen. This is the village where there is a sewing project and the wonderful women there made us bags to share with the midwives. The bags are well-made and, hopefully, will be useful to the midwives with whom we share them … at least they provide a good way of carrying clean birth kits!
The staff at Global Outreach in Titanyen has put word out to the two local midwives that we are coming today. When we arrive, we find out that two midwives had come early in the morning, hoping to meet with us then. Hopefully, they will come back at the appointed time. We relax and tour the grounds of Global Outreach, which are very well maintained and home to long- and short-term missionaries who have been working in this area for many years. I appreciate very much Sheryl Brumley’s willingness to open up her clinic to us and her getting the local midwives here.
Just as we are about to give up on the midwives returning (maybe they are at a birth, we figure!), up they arrive via motor-bike. A spry elderly man and a middle-aged man hop off the bike and come into the clinic, carrying aluminum cases. Introductions are made and we sit down to talk. The older man has been helping with births ever since he helped deliver one of his siblings as a teenager. Both have certificates from the government that they completed midwifery training in the late 1990s. The training certificate is signed by the Minister of Health and the aluminum cases they were given in return for finishing the training are stamped UNICEF. I will have to research what this program was and whether or not there is a possibility of resurrecting it.
Again, it is absolutely amazing to sit and talk with these midwives. We calculate that the older man has probably helped with around 15,000 births in his time. These midwives are very busy. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember exactly how many births they are doing each month, but I think it was around 20, maybe more.
We talk about how they deal with the cord. They confirm for us what the midwives in Simone Pele said, that they soak gauze in alcohol and wrap that around the cord. We ask them to show us how they tie the cord and the younger man demonstrates on the older man’s finger. He only ties a single knot in each string and shows that they cut above the second string. Aha! I ask why he only tied one knot instead of a double or square knot. Many laughs ensue and he informs me that, quite simply, he didn’t want to hurt his friend’s finger! (and, by they way, he typically ties two knots.) Why they are cutting above the second string, I do not know. But, we gave them some clean birth kits with instructions that clearly show cutting between the strings. If I am able to talk with these midwives again in the future, I will follow up on this practice.
We give them the clean birth kits that we’ve brought with us. I only wish we had more for them because what we have will last only one or two months in their busy practice. If only I had known they were so busy, I would have brought more!
By the time we finish chatting with the midwives, we are hot and tired and hungry. Tomorrow, we will return to Prospere. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us there!
Pulling a 50 pound suitcase through pea gravel in a tent city with curious eyes watching, asking “What’s in there?”
Finally, we get to deliver Train Midwives Save Lives clean birth kits to midwives. The kits, as I’ve written before, are so simple. A black garbage bag, which provides a clean surface on which the laboring mama can birth. A little bar of soap, for hand washing. Three non-sterile gloves, two for the birth attendant to wear during birth and the immediate postpartum and one as a backup. Three clean strings, one to tie the umbilical cord a few inches up from the baby’s belly, one to tie the cord a few more inches up, and a spare. A clean razor blade to cut the cord. And, finally, pictorial instructions for use of the contents of the kit.
Because TMSL is a small little project at this point, the kits were assembled at my house, with my kids serving as workers in the process. It was tedious work, cleaning each razor blade individually, fitting all of the contents into a 3 x 5 baggie, cutting strings to length, and folding those pesky garbage bags to size. In the end, they turned out great! 16 clean birth kits fit into a 1 gallon Ziploc and weigh 2 pounds, which is great for packing purposes, since airlines are very strict regarding weight limitations these days.
We are back in Simone Pele today. The midwives have returned … and it is clear that they have been contemplating our talks since we left yesterday. Once everyone in assembled, the midwives have something to say to us … well, actually, they have a lot to say!
“We want an association of midwives for knowledge sharing, peer review [my words, not theirs!], and to help each other.” I am not sure, in Haiti, if there is anything like this. We will find out. I am aware of the Caribbean alliance of midwives, which is a new organization that I suspect is targeted toward “Skilled” Birth Attendants, but perhaps we can build off of this organization to provide an avenue for the Haitian midwives to communicate with each other and learn from each other.
“We want to learn more!” The midwives are ready to talk about a training process! We talk with them about language issues, as in, French, Creole, or none? A good percentage of these midwives are illiterate, so we will stick with Train Midwives Save Lives initial plan to provide primarily pictorial training tools. The challenge is on! When there is material that needs to be presented “in language,” then we will provide it in Creole. This will be a challenge, for sure, because translating into Creole is no easy task. A loose plan is made regarding delivery of some materials in November, with a return trip to follow up in January.
“We want something other than razors to cut the cord!” On the surface, this seems like a reasonable request. And, really, it is more appealing for midwives to be using scissors instead of razors. But, there are just a few issues with that … It is easy to deliver clean, single-packed razors, for single-use. Scissors, on the other hand, need to be sterilized between uses. It may be possible to do a small study on the use of scissors with chlorhexidine as a sterilizing agent with these midwives, but that will be in the future. As we’ve talked with them these two days, we’ve learned that they cut the umbilical cord and then wrap it in gauze and drench the whole thing in alcohol. They are very open to using chlorhexidine on the cords instead of alcohol. Train Midwives Save Lives will get chlorhexidine into the hands of these midwives for this purpose. We will be looking at a way to include it in the birth kits, but in the liquid form that is tricky.
“We want to take the training out into the villages!” WOW! Such forward thinking from this group. One young man in particular, who is new to midwifery and who has impressed us with his technology acumen and self-study skills, is very vocal about wanting to learn and then go out into the villages to teach.
There are many other “wants” that come out in the lively discussion that ensues. Those above are what TMSL will concentrate on for the time-being.
— oh – and we MUST get some size Large gloves for this group! I never anticipated that there would be so many men midwives (or, well, any men!) who could benefit from larger gloves! –
At the end of the day, we give each midwife a certificate stating that they have attended this two day training session. Lisa and I sign each one. As we are doing this, all I can think about is that I have learned so much from them! I feel like I should be receiving a certificate from these midwives because they have taught me so much about their culture, their needs, their wants, their work. Spur of the moment, I pull out two more certificates and write my name and Lisa’s name on them and then ask the midwives to sign our certificates. Great idea on the surface … except that not everyone knows how to write! In the end, each and every midwife signs their name or has someone else sign for them, although I notice that even the oldest of the granny midwives insists on signing her own name and tediously prints out her first name. It is lovely and I am honored to receive this certificate from these midwives.
This group of midwives is so diverse and engaged and interested in learning – we have been blessed with a wonderful focus group!
With the earthquake erupted tent cities in Port au Prince. These dwellings were meant to be a temporary solution to the problem of thousands and thousands and thousands of people not having a “roof” over their heads. Tarps and temporary structures have evolved into semi-permanent homes. Over the last few days, I’ve noticed that there are little tent cities all over the city. Some of them are only a block square, while others are probably a mile square. Some are made up primarily of plain blue tarps, while others are made of tarps bearing logos of nonprofits like WorldVision and USAID. The tents really are set up in a city-like format with front “doors” facing each other across walkways, much like a typical neighborhood. In most cities, there are big water containers that, I assume, hold potable water. There are outhouses, usually made of brightly colored plastic, that have morphed into permanent-looking little bathrooms, complete with drainage. People are living in these little microcosms and life goes on.
So … Simone Pele is a neighborhood of Port au Prince … it is a neighborhood that borders Cite Soliel, which is known as the roughest area of the city with a lot of gang activity. This whole area is tent city. We are going to Simone Pele because Lisa’s nonprofit, Aid in Action, does a lot of work there. As a result, we have been able to get the word out to the midwives that we are coming and we also have a place to meet (Pastor Exil’s church, which Aid in Action supports).
We have planned to spend the morning with the midwives. We do not know how many will show up. We do not know what they are expecting of us. We do not know what kind of midwives will come. It’s like Christmas — full of surprises!
The goals of this trip are to begin to establish relationships with midwives in Haiti, get clean birth kits into their hands, and find out what their needs are. Train Midwives Save Lives aims to develop and provide training for Traditional Birth Attendants to help them provide better, more comprehensive care to the mothers who depend on them as caregivers during birth and postpartum. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know that there are a few very specific areas that must be addressed, regardless of location: Postpartum Hemorrhage Neonatal Resuscitation Prolonged Labor, Newborn Care, and Clean Birth Practices. These topics are well-known to be *the* biggest influences on maternal and infant mortality.
In order to develop the training, we need to establish relationship with midwives in different locales so that they can be our focus groups and testers. It is a delicate balance — finding out their perceived needs and fulfilling known needs. So, the time we are spending with midwives on this trip is critical. We are working to build relationships because that is the only way that this work can successfully move forward.
We arrive at Simone Pele. Today, we have brought only notebooks, flash cards with images related to birth, a model pelvis and model babies. When we get to the church, there are no midwives. Patience pays off and over the next 30 minutes, eleven midwives trickle in. They are here! We are lucky enough to get to meet with them! TMSL does not want to be an organization that comes in and tells midwives how to do things. Because we are working with traditional midwives, it is very important that we take the time to find out how they do things and then work WITH them. They may not be formally educated. They may be illiterate. But, there is one thing THEY definitely KNOW, and that is BIRTH. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Any good midwife knows that she (or he [see below for details on that]) will always be learning and improving skills. Midwives love to learn. They do not love to be told they are wrong. It’s an interesting personality trait that is quite common in this line of work.
They come through the doors of the church, mostly one-by-one, but sometimes in pairs. It is fascinating — half of these midwives are men! Over time, I hope to learn more about this phenomenon — how did it come to be that men are midwives in Haiti? I cannot think of another culture in the world (although I’m sure they exist) where it is as common for men to be midwives as it is for women to hold this position in the community. Some of the midwives are old, some are young. One young man in particular intrigues me, with his tidy dreadlocks and clean white clothes. We learn that he has been learning midwifery since he was 8 years old, at the side of his grandma. Another midwife is a stunning woman who we find out has hospital experience and has trained many midwives herself. Over the course of the day, an older man shines as someone who has many questions and is also a very experienced midwife, despite tome interesting beliefs that he holds. One older man steals my heart with his kind eyes and gentle hands … he exudes the heart of a midwife and I am privileged to be in his presence. A young girl and a young man who are just starting down the road to become midwives are also in attendance. I’m thrilled to have their input as to what they are most curious about.
The hours pass quickly as we use our birth-related flip cards to establish rapport and get an idea as to what they know and don’t know and how birth is practiced in this little corner of the world. Thank you to the Hesperian foundation for their open-copyright illustrations, which we used for this conversation! [side note: I had hoped to do some field testing of the Safe Pregnancy and Birth application, but did not have time to do it on this trip. We will do this next time around!] It is great fun to show the model pelvis and pass it around the room. Lisa and I both take great joy in watching the older midwives show the younger midwives the pelvis. For some, this is probably the first time they have seen a model like this … but it is clear that they understand that the tailbone is the tailbone and the pubis is the pubis.
Today, we are venturing to the village of Prospere!
John Ackerman (To the Least of These) has been working in Haiti for about 25 years. He is an amazing man who has given all of these years to caring for the medical needs of Haitians. He has a clinic in the village of Prospere and has graciously invited us out to the clinic for two days while we are here.
John picks us up today at about 7.30am and we embark on the one and a half hour drive out to the village. I really appreciate both John’s and Jean’s driving abilities. Driving here is definitely an art. Prospere is close to the Dominican Republic border and the land is beautiful and bountiful with crops. I notice that there are wells in the little communities we pass through. There seems to have been less earthquake damage here, further out of the city. And there are fewer walls. In the city, everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, is behind a wall. As you drive down the streets in the city, all that you see are walls with gates on either side. Often, it is impossible to see the buildings behind the walls, although some homes are easily visible. I noticed that the further out we went in the country, the fewer walls there were. Still, some pockets of homes have security walls around them, but many do not. A culvert with water runs alongside the road for a good part of the journey. People are bathing in it, playing in it, cooling off in it.
John has put word out that the pregnant women in the area are welcome to come see the midwives for a prenatal today. We do not know what to expect … maybe no one will show up … or maybe, just maybe, as we crest the last little hill and drive up to the clinic building, we will see so many beautiful pregnant bellies that it is overwhelming …and this is just what happens! Word is definitely out that we are coming today! There are pregnant women *everywhere*! We open up the door to the clinic, which is a 1 room concrete building that John has quite well stocked and from which he provides care to the people in this area. It is the consummate ”where there is not doctor” situation … but in this little place, there is a compassionate man who is willing and capable to bring his knowledge to the people and care for their needs.
How will we keep order? There are so many women! Lisa and I are midwives who are used to spending around an hour with each prenatal, so seeing 40+ women in a few hours is definitely going to be a challenge. We tear up some index cards, write numbers on them, and then go out to the covered area where most of the women have congregated. On our first go at passing out numbers, we realize that we have 35 pregnant mamas to see … and that number grows to 50 as the women continue to show up over the next few hours.
Initially, Lisa and I are working together with Jean translating … but after a few prenatals, we realize that it will be much more efficient if we work separately with John translating for Lisa and Jean translating for me. We find a rhythm and hopefully provided some worthwhile care to the women. In the process of each prenatal, we are able to gather SO MUCH data! The women are so very willing to talk openly about their current and past pregnancies and births. Many babies in this village die (I have not compiled the stats that we gathered) and we are interested to find out from the mamas that, for the most part, the deaths happen between 7 and 14 months of age. So, the mortality rate doesn’t appear to be pregnancy or birth or even postpartum related. Although there does seem to be a potential correlation between weaning and the babies dying. This is only a problem that additional research can solve. I am intrigued and interested to find out if it is a trend in other locales in Haiti, or isolated to this area.
We end each prenatal by giving the mama another little piece of paper with a smilie face on it and telling them to return in a few days so that we can give each a clean birth kit for their midwife to use at the birth.
Midway through the day an older woman rushes in with a quite-pregnant mama and urgently states that “she’s in labor!!!” For a moment, Lisa and I are giddy (wouldn’t that great to get to do an unanticipated birth?!?). So I begin checking out the mama and as I chat with the older woman, I find out that she is actually a midwife. The mama is not in labor and the midwife just wants to talk with us. I love her creativity! From one midwife to another, I give her kudos for knowing exactly how to get our attention . Little did she know that we were so very excited to “find” her and have the opportunity to talk!
Their faces are beautiful and their personalities are, for the most part, charming. Their names are wonderful … Cecelia, Chantelle, Makena, Natalie, Karlena, Magdala, Ophelia, Jeanette, Antoinette …
At the end of the day (which is really some time in the afternoon … but it’s HOT and it’s been a LOT of work to do these prenatals), we pile back in John’s truck and trek back to the city. The fields of corn and tranquility of the country are lost to the sounds of horns honking and sirens screaming as we arrive back “home”.
It was a good … no … a GREAT day. Day 2 of no expectations and Day 2 of being blown away by the kindness of the people in this country that is so hard-hit by disaster after disaster. I go to bed so very excited about all of the good data that we were able to gather and hopeful that we’ve helped these ladies in some small way.
[NOTE: I will post a series of blogs related to the recent Train Midwives Save Lives trip to Haiti, probably one blog post for each day we were out in the field. I will do my best to do this daily over the next several days ... but you know how that goes!]
We arrived in Port au Prince this morning at about 9am after flying overnight from Denver. The trip, as a whole was uneventful. There are four of us from the States on this trip: Lisa (Aid in Action and also a midwife who has blessed me with sharing contacts and knowledge of Haiti. Without Aid in Action’s help, this trip never would have happened. The work we will do over the coming days and years with these particular groups of midwives will likely be in conjunction with Aid in Action.), Liz (a college student who is interning with Aid in Action), and Dana (a videographer who is along to document the trip through pictures). The four of us do not really know each other (ok – I have never met Liz and Dana and I have only peripherally known Lisa as another midwife in Colorado). Thankfully, personalities meshed quite well and were all able to travel well together, enjoy each other’s company, get the work done, and learn learn learn.
I have come to Haiti with no real expectations, but hopes that we will be able to distribute clean birth kits and gather some data regarding the needs of midwives in a variety of locales. From my perspective, this is largely an information-gathering trip and an opportunity to find out where Train Midwives Save Lives can work in Haiti and whether or not the midwives in country are even open to receiving the training.
As we flew into the city, I was fascinated to see that there had been far more cleanup accomplished (after the earthquake) than I had anticipated. Are there still piles of rubble and buildings that are half standing? Yes. But there has also been a lot of work done to clear the rubble and rebuild. The airport, however, has not been rebuilt and arrivals come into a “terminal” that, I believe, was set up after the earthquake.
As soon as the plane lands, I can tell that it’s hot … and I don’t mean North Idaho “hot” …. I mean HOT. I’ve been following the weather in Haiti for almost a year now and it is pretty much always around 100 degrees Fahrenheit with extremely high humidity. Hot. And, unfortunately, since we were only there for a week, it wasn’t really enough time to adjust to the heat. But, that’s a minor issue and not really something worth complaining about. After all, it is also a place where people do not necessarily have a place to live, do not necessarily have access to clean water, and do not necessarily have access to sufficient amounts of food. Who cares if it’s hot?!?
Jean, our translator and driver for the week, picked us up promptly at the airport. [side note: I am so thankful that Jean helped us throughout the week. He was very patient and an excellent translator and host. I so appreciate all of the insight he has regarding Haitian culture and, in particular, maternity-related needs.] … and so the adventure began. Four-wheeling in the city! The roads are horrible and hilarious at the same time. Many pot holes. No traffic laws (at least not any that appear to be enforced). People everywhere: driving in cars, riding motorbikes, catching a tap-tap (sort of an independent taxi/bus), walking, selling goods on the street-side.
Ahhh … *this* is life. The city is living, breathing, moving on.
Our day is filled with delivering American treats to friends of Lisa, driving out to Titanyen to pick up the bags that we had made by a sewing project in that village (the bags are AMAZING!), and settling into the hotel. For this trip, we are staying in Port au Prince so as to be centrally located. Throughout the week, I will learn all-to-well that it takes a long time to get anywhere in the PaP area. It’s a big city and there is a lot of traffic … oh, and did I mention the condition of the roads?!
Tomorrow, we are off to the village of Prospere.
I awoke this morning to what sounded like a parade on the street next to our hotel. Not sure what that was all about…probably just someone blasting the car stereo. After hearing so much bad press about Haiti and Port au Prince in particular, I have to admit that I am enamored with this place and angered that it has such a bad rap. The people are beautiful, inside and out. The city, while scarred from its recent past, is still amazing. Driving through a city of millions on roads that are sometimes paved, with no stripes, lights, or rules in general turns out to be quite a safe and entertaining adventure. Of course, I’m not the one driving!
Tuesday was amazing. We went out to Simone Pele and met with 11 matrones. We were back there Wednesday. For those of you who don’t know, Simone Pele is technically in Cite Soliel…tent cities and rough ones, to boot. Our setting (a church) felt safe and I am thankful that we had a nice place to meet. The midwives were absolutely amazing. Honest, open, and hungry for knowledge. The mix of the crowd was fascinating — hospital trained midwives, “new” apprentice/school trained midwives, aspiring midwives, and old school midwives. Some heavily dependant on folklorem others on evidence…but each and every one interested in healthy moms and healthy babies.
Also on Wednesday, we went out to the village of Titanyen and had the opportunity to meet with two midwives. One gentleman has been a midwife fir 60 years!!!!! We figure he has helped with 10 to 20000 birth. Imagine the knowledge he holds!
Today, we were back in Prospere, where we were lucky enoygh to get to do prenatals earlier in the week. Getting a clean birth kit into each mamas hands was fun and overwelming. Talking with the local midwives, enlightening.
We are very encouraged and excited to have forged these relationships. The rest of the trip will consist of assimilating all we have learned, starting to crunch numbers, planning next steps, and following up on other work (Aid in Action).
I am forever amazed at how universal pregnancy and birth are. Pregnant women deal with the same issues, no matter where they are…blood pressure (high and low), anemia, swelling, headache, babies moving “a LOT”…and the midwife saying “Drink more water…eat more protein…” No matter where you go, “Drink more water, eat more protein.” The midwife’s mantra. Such a simple mantra…and so difficult to implement, especially when there really is not any water available and protein is a few beans. We had the privilege of going out to a relatively untouched village here in Haiti today. Much to our delight, almost 50 beautiful pregnant women showed up for prenatal care! What a pleasant surprise it was! The women were very open to chatting with us (through Jean our interpreter, who is amazing and patient). Pretty much every mama stays at home with a famn sage. We passed out tickets for them to come back to see uson Thursday to pick up clean birth kits. We invited the mamas to bring their famn sages with them…so it should be really interesting on Thursday! Thank you, John for inviting us out to help you for a day! Your work is amazing and inspiring! Off to bed! Tomorrow we go to Simone Pele.
It has been a stormy 6 months, getting this work in Haiti off the ground. But, at long last, we will go NEXT WEEK! I am thankful that Tropical Storm Isaac wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and hopeful that we will be in Haiti between storms. Thank you to Lisa Buxman for her hard work bringing together connections in Haiti! Without you and your perseverance and patience, this trip would not be happening. What a joy it is to watch the Lord bring it all together! Lisa and I will be traveling together and are really looking forward to this launch trip of the Train Midwives Save Lives project.
20+ midwives from Simone Pele are confirmed to meet with us. I am very excited to learn from these midwives. They know so much and work with so little. We are taking clean birth kits, hopefully enough to get them through the coming months. If we are able to “train” nothing more than use of the clean birth kit, that will be a success story. But, we are prepared to talk birth with the midwives and share our knowledge and glean insight from them.
We will also be out in the villages of Prospare and Titiyen, which will be quite different than being in the city. We’ll have the opportunity to (finally) pick up the messenger bags that were made months ago and to talk with midwives and deliver clean birth kits.
It could be an interesting time with increased cholera incidence. I wanted to use the Global Health Media “The Story of Cholera” in Kreyol but the sad thing is that it just doesn’t make sense / isn’t realistic to think that we can show a film to the people with whom we’ll be working. How to show the film? I will take it downloaded on my phone and use it if I can. In the meantime, going prepared to talk about clean water and how to use bleach to make it safer.
I will try to post very frequently over the next week and some posts while we are out and about.
Next blog: How to Assemble a Clean Birth Kit (online this weekend!)