Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Re-Opening of the Haiti Room; That was Then, This is Now

When I've gone to Haiti in the past, the month prior to departure transforms our dining room into what Greg affectionately calls The Haiti Room, with the big table covered with donated supplies, clothing, and all my "Haiti gear"- strewn about in piles, bags, and an ordered chaos that only I understand. But I didn't plan to open the Haiti room for this March trip.

On departure day of my December 2009 trip, last minute, I had the unpleasant surprise of the airline restricting passengers to 2 50-lb bags. So I packed up boxes and bags of the excess stuff, intending to take the second round of things this March. I happily gloated to myself that I wouldn't need to collect and sort all the stuff, as I already had loads of scrubs to take, and quite few bundles of medical supplies I could pack& go with. I ALSO gloated-- maybe this is a do-not-gloat lesson-- that I had only myself transport, no need to finance Stephen's part, and that Loudoun Community Midwives would donate my airfare as usual-- I wouldn't need to harass my friends and family with "begging money for Haiti" pleas. Oh, how orderly and "ready in advance for the next trip" I felt. Yeah, well. That was Then, This is Now....

As we all are painfully aware, the earth then shook Port au Prince and southern Haiti on Jan 12, 2010, like a terrier shakes a rat. The largest, capital city of one of the most fragile, least developed and poorly organized infrastructures on the planet, essentially crumpled like a pile of crackers, and now all the plans are changed. In fact, there are very few plans. Now we have hopes, and ideas, of how to help Haiti, but the grief and the unknowns are very difficult to navigate, and plans are very hard to make. Taking a lesson from the Haitian people, however, who DO NOT give up, EVER, I see people from all around the world and especially America, rallying to help. Midwives for Haiti has every intention of continuing and expanding our work to try to help Haitian women by training and supporting midwives in Haiti, and expanding skilled maternity care where it is needed most. American Airlines resumes service to Port au Prince on Jan 29 and some of "our people" will be on a flight this coming week-- and so on into the spring.

So, the Haiti Room is re-opened, and I'm getting ready for a trip March 5-13.
For my incredible supporters who have been asking already, here are the needs as understood right now:

Mostly, Money. I have my airfare covered, so funds will be spent in Haiti informal economy on food, fuel, travel, or otherwise donated to churches, schools, orphanages, or to buy medical supplies or other urgent needs of the trip. Just send me a check (home address or Loudoun Community Midwives,19465 Deerfield Ave. Suite 205 Lansdowne VA 20176). I will take as much as I get, and use it well. I never leave Haiti with more than $10 in my pocket. (Then I land in Miami and find an ATM!) If you'd like a receipt from a charity for tax purposes, then donate by sending checks or online donations to MidwivesforHaiti.org. Those will pay for salaries of Haitian midwives, medications, and staffing a new maternity center in Cite Soleil, the biggest slum in Port au Prince, with our graduates.

Hotel "Points" or Miles
In the past, I've been offered credit card "miles" or "points" to help with travel. This time, our trip group needs 2 rooms at the Miami airport for Friday night, March 5. Any Miami airport hotel. There is nowhere safe to stay overnight in Port au Prince, as we have done in the past, so we need to rendezvous in Miami then fly in together on Saturday. I will be leading my group of 2-3 RN's from Minnesota who have volunteered to help teach midwives nursing skills, help in maternity, or other med-surg/ER duties as needed at the hospital.

Supplies and Donations-
We can only take 2 bags each, as we may travel more in trucks this time-- but I know it will help to take
BedSheets (Theard says people are lying on the concrete floor of the hospital)
Ace Bandages, gauze, wound-care dressings
Pitocin, Antibiotics, Magnesium Sulfate, Prenatal Vitamins and Iron (discuss with me if you'd like to help purchase, I can get thru a wholesale pharmacy)

Help me Organize the Stuff, Later in February
In later February, before the trip, I will need some help getting the donations into orderly piles, ziploc bags, and bundles that will make sense when I am pulling them out of my suitcase at the hospital and a baby is crowning or a lady is bleeding or seizing. People who come to my house will be given beer or cookies. (Greg is conveniently going to a ReMAX convention in Florida the week before I go...my, he is learning how to survive this process quite well. I think our marriage will survive Haiti after all.)
I can't do this all myself, I am learning, and I know I have friends ( a lot of good, kind friends) who will help.

Thanks & God Bless.
Welcome Back to the Haiti Room! Grab a seat! There is a chair underneath those plastic bags somewhere...no, beside the gloves and the Lidocaine...

PS: Update: My wonderful financial planner, Ed Skelly of Sterling Financial Partners, has generously offered to match the first $500 cash/check donations to this trip 1:1, to help fund the purchase of drugs and medical supplies. My friends, you blow me away. : )


  1. I live close to Lansdowne and should be able to help organize - need a little more info first. What's the best way to get in touch with you to find out the details?

  2. Just for all to know: when you post a comment on this blog, you are fairly anonymous-- only the name you registered with "blogger" shows, and no email, no identifying info. I cannot reply to you except as a post. But for any folks who want to find me, but don't know me personally enough to have any contact info,you can find me thru calling or dropping items off at my practice, lcmidwives.com, or wdotson@lmgdoctors.com
    thanks Wendy

  3. Hello dear Wendy,

    I would love to chat with you by phone if possible. I am going into Haiti with Midwives for Haiti on the 20th with a group of Oregon Midwives. My midwifery partner is going in on the 6th with her apprentice as well.

    Email me pcmidwife@gmail.com

    Patricia Couch, CPM, LDM
    Bella Vie Gentle Birth Center

  4. Thank you for all you are doing. As a midwifery student and former client of midwifery services, I can imagine how badly you and your colleagues are needed there. God bless you all.

  5. Praying that you'll have a safe and productive trip, Wendy! I meant to pick up some crocs for you to take, but am donating to Haitibabies instead. Wish I could do more!
    Robin Johnson