It is 4:45 on Friday afternoon in Hinche, Haiti, and downstairs there is lively music playing as Brittany continues Carrie's tradition of taking dancing lessons. Outside the volunteers are doing a lot of laughing as they take Kreyol lessons from Kenel Pierre. I am trying to recuperate from the busy day by setting on the porch in a rocker, enjoying a cool breeze, and looking at the trees.
For the end of
June, the temperature has not been as hot as I expected and the late
afternoon rains cool the air - so sleeping is not a problem- along with
the fans, of course.
Mac says that back in Richmond it is 91 degrees so sitting outside on
the deck at home right now would probably not be comfortable.
are all over-the-moon jubilant because one of our dear translators
finally got his visa approved to come to the states with the goal of
becoming an OB/Gyn. I called Wendy Dotson, who with her husband, Greg,
will host him while he goes to school to give the good news. The meaning
of what this opportunity will make for his life is overwhelming and
brings me tears to think of it.
It is a time of enormous
activity for Midwives For Haiti in Hinche. Right now we have 23 students
and hard-working teachers and preceptors. Our mobile clinic midwives
care for around 250 women per month in surrounding remote villages. We
have an ongoing outreach program for the matrones in the Central
Plateau. We continue to support the midwives at the hospital here with
salaries continuing education and volunteer work support. They handle
around 150-180 births per month and their reputation is high in the
it is easy for me to just see the problems, I am continually inspired
by the stories of individual women who are blessed and saved by the care
they receive from our midwives. There is the baby that is too tiny to
eat but getting breastmilk because of a donated breast pump. There is
the mother of 6 who would have bled to death if her matrone would have
not seen her high number of pregnancies as a risk and insisted she
deliver at the hospital. After 4 units of blood she will go home to
mother children that would have otherwise had their own survival rate
decreased drastically if their mother would have died.
Therese is going to have a NICU by the end of September! Ohio State
University faculty and staff will be training and supporting the staff
over the next few months. Babies who would have otherwise died or been
transported to Cange (which is closing their NICU to move the staff to
Mirabilais) will be able to be cared for here in Hinche. Monica Trexor,
the neonatal nurse clinical specialist, is here with us.
started today with a problem-solving meeting with our mobile clinic
midwives. The to-do list at the end of it includes getting benches made
for the clinics where women wait with no chairs, finding a beach-type
tent for the clinics that are held outside, and getting a DVD player so
that patients can watch educational videos while they wait to be seen.
Figuring out snags in the record-keeping and medication orders (getting
Cefexime in this country is difficult) and how to pay the announcers in
each village were on the agenda also. With the help of Kathryn Kooistra
and her friend, Tracy, we are going to have a new way of getting data
from our records so that we can measure our effectiveness
direction of our program for next year weighs heavy on my mind. Our
training program needs continual evaluation of its effectiveness. We are
faced with probable loss of two teachers to Canada and the U.S.at the
end of the year. I think we have the strongest class we have ever had
but retaining good teachers remains a problem for us. (Indeed it is a
problem throughout the country. The most educated make the most money
and are the most likely to leave the country.)
town of Hinche has been our center of activity for 7 years. But we are
asking ourselves if we should continue to teach midwives here at this
hospital where there are so many barriers to evidence-based care and in
this area where we have saturated the job market for our graduates. It
is exciting to have many of our graduates from sponsoring organizations.
They automatically have jobs when they finish. The thought of Vilana
and Soislia, Mariette and Vesline going to their rural communities and
working to bring skilled care where none has been before affirms that we
are doing the right thing, the needed thing in training.
we ask: Should we teach in another region, should we teach in two other
regions if the opportunities are there? (We are exploring Hospital
Albert Schweitzer in Des Chappelles and Hospital Convention Baptiste in
Quartier Morin.) Should we take only students who are sponsored and have
jobs when they are finished? Should we begin to open and support more
birth centers? We really believe that the model of birth centers with
skilled attendants referring to more advanced medical care when needed
is a model that is the most life-saving and most cost effective for
every country in this world- including the U.S. How do we incorporate
more birth center experience into our students' clinical experience if
most of them will work in birth centers when they complete the program?
As always, the path for Midwives
For Haiti is never easy or clear. A favorite saying around here is that
the problems and questions we face this year will be gone next year but
next year we will have new ones. The really cool thing about our
volunteers is that they have such good ideas, help us problem-solve and
give us encouragement to keep climbing the mountain of obstacles. That's
because they are midwives and medical professionals who are
I am reading "To Repair the
World" by Paul Farmer. In a speech he gave to a graduating class of
doctors he warned them of the "general anesthesia of the soul" that can
come from being among the privileged of this world. For anyone who is
experiencing "anesthesia of the soul", joining us in our work here in
Haiti will cure you.