Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ten Years and Three Minutes

Someone needs to write a book about Nadene Brunk and the story of Midwives for Haiti; maybe someone is me.  Ever since I saw the first email she sent out in 2006, inviting American midwives to come to Haiti to teach skills to Haitians, this effort has had a gripping hold on my heart.  TEN years

have gone by since the first group of 8 students in Hinche (now formally named "Class One") gathered in a courtyard under a mango tree to study maternity care with American volunteers and a couple ragged posters.  Now on Sunday, I serve as the marren, or "godmother" of Class Ten, 30 students.  The role is an interesting Haitian tradition, and seems to be kind of a cross between Maid of Honor at a wedding and an AA sponsor.  I give a little talk and give presents.  So. I will try to celebrate and commemorate 10 years in about 3 minutes, at the graduation ceremony.

 The talk, which I will give in Creole and English, is mostly just a laundry list of whom should be thanked and honored, kind of like an Oscars acceptance speech, and about as fascinating. It is, however, my job and the proper thing to do, according to Gladias, my closest Haitian friend and translator of all things Haitian.  I wrote it in English; he translated it in Creole, and I understand most of the words.  The things that really thrill me are not in the speech, due to the 3-minute goal. Plus, Historian is not my job for now.  If I write the book, it will be!

I am happiest that I truly believe women in Haiti are being helped, and lives saved, by the ever-growing group of Midwives for Haiti graduates, a number now well over 100,  and 94% of them employed.  I'm also thrilled that we no longer work out of 2 closets, one hospital classroom, and a church rectory, as we did when Nadene and Steve and I attended the start of Class Two.  Even better, our Jeep drives on a highway all the way to Hinche, instead of flying in a tiny plane and landing on the dirt airstrip after the goats were chased off.  And oh, the LandCruiser! MFH has 2 motor vehicles now, a Jeep and a LandCruiser, and sometimes, both of them are running ! Once, we got around in Ronel's 1984 Hilux truck with wooden benches in the bed for seats.  These are only a few of the near-miraculous accomplishments and blessings of Midwives for Haiti over 10 years that we are all celebrating. This ramble down memory lane is a bit over simplified, and reminds me of a dad that once told me " when they're little, they have little problems; When they get bigger, they have bigger problems."... It's true for non-profits, too, and makes me reflect on on how to help MFH. Find funds for solar power panels to energize the compound where the classroom, offices, volunteer housing, and supply depots now reside.
Nonetheless, something now exists, something that I think is good, and it has grown by close collaboration with Americans, Haitians, and the hard work of people with huge hearts, to the benefit of mothers and babies in Haiti. The conclusion of my 3 minutes is "With God's help, we have done this, together."