Friday, December 11, 2009

NO Fast Food in Haiti

It is just too overwhelming—and possibly tedious, both to read, or write, a list of what we’ve been doing in Haiti this week (besides sweating heavily, giving away scrubs, riding around in the truck!) Sharon and I plan to sit together on the flight back to Miami, Saturday, and compose an email to the M4H Board with that kind of laundry list. So for now, here are just some descriptions of little pieces of the lovely, crazy quilt that make up this week in Haiti:
A bigger classroom in the Ministry of Health was open for us to use for our “Out of Hospital Birth” presentation. All of Class 2, (mostly graduated) and Class 3—(beginners) attended, and Sharon and I had a blast, sharing with them our philosophy of woman-centered midwifery and the concepts of risk assessment; what’s ok to do at home, what’s not, and tips on assisting a labor without much intervention. Stephen and Chris improvised a “Haitian boom” microphone --- ( mic duct-taped to a broomstick) and got good audio and video of the whole event. Stephen said he had a proud moment with me and Sharon role-playing, demonstrating back labor, side-lying, and hand-and-knees delivery, with me crawling around on the conference table, moaning loudly. Meanwhile, Sharon played the midwife role, showed how to do these labors and deliveries and validated that mobility in labor and different positions are not only normal but helpful.
We’ve been available to whatever pregnant women wanted any care, so that has meant a prenatal visit each day with somebody—our translator Theard’s wife, and then each of the 2 cooks, wanted to See the Midwife and made an “appointment” when we could check them out in our bedroom at the orphanage. It has been so sweet to sit with these women, give them information about what is normal, when their due date will be, discuss what their plan may be for birth. They have generally seen somebody at the local clinic, but it seems there is no teaching or sharing of information…nobody knows why they should take iron, or vitamins, whether their urine test, blood pressure, or size of their belly was normal, so they just wonder and worry. We will change that with more midwifery care!
The lunch each day on the porch at Maison du Fortune Orphanage has given me happiness. In past trips, we’ve often not been able to arrange to bring our staff- drivers, translators, etc, into the places where we ate our noon meal. They just fended for themselves, or even (we kind of figured out over time)… went hungry. There is no Fast Food in Hinche! Actually, nothing is fast. Not the traffic, the most of which is on foot or human or otherwise. Not the pace of business—“Maybe Tomorrow” is a motto these folks live by. I went to a Haitian bank, and while a mob waited forever in line for the teller, cell phones were plugged into the wall, charging, by the potted plants—free power!
On this trip, at this new “home”, however, all The Guys Eat with us, served by the cooks of this house of Xavieran Brothers who host us. Each day at noon, we come back here, and rest on the shady, tiled upper porch, pray, and share our meal—(Any blog reader already KNOWS the menu!) And it is so pleasant.
In Haiti, hunger is not an abstract concept or a growling stomach due to poor time managment. People struggle, worry, and exert great effort each day to find a way to make some money, grow some crops, make some deals, to find food. Then they find charcoal with which to cook it. They get water from a tap, often not a tap at their house, but down the street. They go to market on a donkey or a bike or walk, to buy the food, and then, finally, if all goes well…there is lunch. It is a happy time. A big plate of beans and rice, a little bit of meat cooked, with raw onions on top… makes a Haitian happy. It’s made me happy too—to share provide work that makes someone able feed their get to live this day, and eat lunch with my family and friends. Messi Bon Dieu—Thanks be to God.

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