The Matrone Song / The Midwives Song
Each day, at the midwives training in Bas Limbe, Haiti, the matrones danced to a rousing chorus of this song. It was led by my translator, Mama, who always got everyone up singing and dancing as they waited to wash their hands before lunch. I
Although they came by foot or four to a motorcycle and though they traveled through streams and large muddy holes in the road, they arrived in their Sunday best clothes with hats and a smile.
After an opening prayer, birth stories and morning demonstration they welcomed the opportunity to stand and dance with each other, their instructors and Mama. They sang the song with pride and determination for their villages, their country and for their God given profession.
Most of the matrones, in Haiti, believe that they were called to be a midwife by God and so they do this work to honor him and not for any personal benefit to themselves. The song was sung with a joy for life despite inevitable hardships.
It was a great joy and honor to sing and dance with them. When I return to Oregon, and teach an art class to 7th grade girls I get them up dancing and tell them in Haiti, I never taught without dancing and they look at me somewhat surprised but when the music goes on, they too dance. I tell them that I don’t ever want to live my live again without this commitment to joy in the face of hardship and loss; dignity in the footsteps of a history burdened with oppression.
I want, when all else, fails to stand and sing and dance and to remember the simple and complete happiness of washing my hands before delivering a baby.
Here are the words in Creole and the translation into English. Mama gave this to me so I apologize if I have not copied it correctly.
Water, soap and cups these are the three things that are necessary.
Put a lot of water in your house for you to wash your hands.
Midiwfe, you need to wash your hands before delivering the baby.
This protects mama as well as the baby.
One- pour water on your hands
Two – Wash your hands well
Three- Lather your hands with soap
Four – Clean under your nails
Dlo, savon, ak yon goden tois babgay necesae.
Mete anpil dlo lakay nou pou nou lave men nou.
Matron fou lave men ou avan ou fe akouchman,
Sa protégé mama ansemble ak tibebe.
Yon – vidle dlo sou men ou
De- Byen frote men ou.
Tois- Savonnem men ou
Kat – Lave