Friday, October 12, 2012

MicroBrew and MicroGiving, Both Good Ideas

As I gear up for my seventh trip with Midwives for Haiti, I must share my first post in Haiti:
Monday, March 9, 2009: Beans and Rice and Singing:
The Ravine, outside Port au Prince, Haiti is a 40-acre ravine over a small river. Both sides of the steep ravine have been built up with concrete and cinder block and tin roofs, one on top of another, to house an estimated 70,000 people. There is no power and no clean water supply except what is carried in. My group of 7 health care providers stood at the edge of the Ravine on Friday night, my first night in Haiti, as dusk was falling. Adults and children filtered up and down the narrow winding path, to and from their homes, carrying water in jugs, small plastic bags of bread, rice, and charcoal. Candles flickered and charcoal fires were lit. As dusk fell and my brain and heart tried to grasp the reality of this many people subsisting in a space with this few resources, the smell of sewage mixed with the smell of beans and rice and smoke from cook fires. A church choir began singing a loud song of worship, a flute tune drifted up from a tiny concrete dwelling, and I had my first lesson on Haiti: the poverty in material things is profound; they survive on less "things" than I could have ever imagined. And their hearts are deeply spiritual. Most education is done through churches, and most events are begun and ended with prayer. And in the midst of this intense need, they sing.

That was 3.5 years ago. Haiti kept me awake at night many times thereafter, and I've kept going back. I've realized that if I keep waiting for my life/work/family/house to be organized and tidy before I return to Haiti, it won't happen in this lifetime. So, I have one more vacation week in 2012, and I asked my husband, on a Haiti Date, and he said yes. Nov 10-18, I'll make trip #7, and Greg will make his first trip with me. He's supported my work in Haiti with patience, financial generosity, sound logistical advice...driven to Richmond with me for Midwives for Haiti Board meetings, and practiced a LOT of non-complaining while I was preoccupied doing Haiti things, in my office, or out of country for 9-day stints. Now, his support will include seeing/hearing/smelling it. He may build some furniture, do house repairs in our volunteers house and classroom in Hinche, and help package medicine on a rural pediatric clinic. He may give blood at the Hinche Red Cross, and help kids learn English. He'll see Haiti first-hand, and THAT is the toughest, sweetest piece. I am grateful. I don't know how it will be for him. To be with the poorest people is painful and powerful, and brings life into a different focus: the lens of the heart and understanding is shifted. But here we go...Haiti Trip 7...together!
Midwives for Haiti volunteering feels like the opposite of the United Way or the Red Cross. Now, don't get me wrong: Red Cross is Great! Not opposite in intent-- it's all Good Work! BUT they are HUGE, and do huge projects-- and I am one small, (well, "normal-sized") person, with 1 box labeled “Haiti stuff “ in the upstairs bedroom, NO budget (other than my own donations and those of my friends, colleagues, and neighbors), and I support small projects. Mostly, I help train 16 Haitian midwives a year in a 10-month program to provide prenatal care and save the lives of mothers and babies. YET, just as I value my local micro-brewed New River Pale Ale ( plug for Lost Rhino Brewing Co.) over Bud Light, and for similar reasons, I value this small non-profit and the personalized work that I do. Why I support Microbrew Beer & Midwives for Haiti:

Personalized flavor--(I know who brews my beer, and) I know who I am going to help in Haiti, and why. I know the translators, the midwives, the kids, and clergy in the town where I work. I see the growth of families, schools, clinics, and hear their stories. I have a Haitain godchild.
Local is Good- both my local brewery and the folks who work in Hinche, Haiti are benefiting their local community first, with jobs, commerce, and healthy development.
Small is manageable- Whatever the results, bad or good- it will be evident and not "lost in the shuffle". (I can give feedback on the beers I do/don't like!) A little bit still matters at this level, and has impact that I can see and report.. $20 donations, a set of scrubs, a pair of shoes, a sewing people I've actually met.

"What Do You Need?” Ask some of my dearest friends and supporters. And goodness, I've gotten SO specific and selective. I have seen too many suitcases, full impractical stuff that cost way too much in baggage fees. (ie expired meds, heavy winter baby clothing...) So, now, I bring my knowledge, small birth kit, laptop, what they ask for, and my toothbrush, pretty much.
First and foremost, I ask for and thank my family, friends for the encouragement, emotional support and prayer that keeps me held in this work. It works. Also,thank you for sharing about this work, (this blog, if you wish), to others who may find it of interest.
Now, The "Needed Stuff"Wish List:
Heartline Ministries needs sewing machines. Heartline Sewing Machine drive If you have a good used one to donate, leave me a message at the office (703-726-1300)and we'll talk about my baggage situation.

My friend and Translator Theard, needs a small external hard drive, 300-500GB to keep track of documents for "Flower of Hope" School, a US 501-c-3. (tax-deductible). Could be used, or purchased on Amazon for about $70, I think. Small digital camera to photograph the progress at his school and send photos out to the US donors.

Financial donations for trip costs and random last-minute requests & supplies .(My practice already pays for my airfare...thanks, again,LCM). I personally pay $650 in fees for translators, food, housing, and in-country transportation. Donations to help with this are tax-deductible and will be sent to "Midwives for Haiti" with "Wendy Dotson trip" in the memo line. Mail them to my office: Loudoun Community Midwives, 19465 Deerfield Ave
Suite 205, Lansdowne, VA 20176

Scrub sets for Haitian midwives & students: XS, small, and a few large sets. (I have a bunch of medium already.) Bright colors.

White, short-sleeve blouses For the students to wear in class ; short-sleeves, 5-XtraSmall, 5-Small, 5-Med, 3 Large.
We live in the richest county in the richest country in the world. Thank you so much for helping train the midwives who save the lives of mothers in our poorest neighbor.

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