“Ah, you are going to Haiti again.”
“Didn’t you get a bad disease there one time?”
“Does it ever get better?”
“I could never see a dead baby or child.”
“Aren’t all the efforts squandered?”
“So much corruption.”
I say yes, but remember it is a tropical island in the Carribean and it is cold and rainy here. I can see that they had not thought of it that way. If I was going to Jamaica or the Bahamas, Haiti’s neighbors, or even the Dominican Republic, it would be different but Haiti?
I think we are little seeds and we land where we do. I spread my wings and a soft breeze put me down here. I am a tourist, an immigrant, a traveler, a teacher, a student.
I can tell you that since my first visit, after the earthquake, Midwives for Haiti, has trained many midwives and sent them out into the many small communities of Haiti. NGO’s have trained thousands of village midwives. Birth centers have been opened and there are many mobile prenatal clinics. There is a far greater access to care.
In the hospital, where the midwifery students train, mothers and babies die everyday. I could tell you story after story. I see children with special needs, being left to die or beaten and teased and treated like a stray dog.. Schools are rarely free. The presedential elections never happened for fear of violence. The rich and powerful do everything they can to maintain power and exploit the poor. Most people still walk miles for water and have no access to electricity or latrines.
It is hot and dry and there is a great struggle to grow food.
Healthcare and education are most often rooted in the generosity of NGO’s.
But this trip, I want to tell another story. I want to seek out the many courageous ways, Hatiens have organized themselves over hundreds of years to resist and improve their lives. I want to tell you about the small groups that they have formed and they ways their music and dance tell he story of a greater independence. These small groups are destroyed over and over again but always they rise up.
I love teaching in the midwifery school and helping in the hospital but there is something else. Marie from my second trip to Haiti; from my time at MamaBaby Haiti wants to start a small, back yard birth center. She wants a small, woman owned and operated independent birth center that serves her own small community. It would be her business and not an NGO or government run center.
So on Monday, I am going to sit down with a small group of midwives and in the spirit of Haiti’s deeply rooted ability for grass root’s organizing, I will help them dream and plan. Who knows if this could ever work. How could a small group of independent midwives work in a male dominated, NGO based economy?
So, if you read this maybe you could whisper “I believe” and maybe, just maybe a small group of Hatien women can rise up in small backyard birth centers and change their own country- one small birth center at a time.