A Class of Midwives, Haiti’s Heroes
By: April Lopez
Over the summer I learned that I won an opportunity to travel to Haiti with Every Mother Counts to personally observe the conditions many women must endure to give birth safely and to witness the impact of the partnership between Stella & Dot and Every Mother Counts.
These two organizations partnered through the sales of the Enlighten Bracelet and the Illuminate Cuff, which supports Every Mother Counts’ partner organizations such as Midwives for Haiti and their efforts to improve maternal health and birth outcomes in the country. The lessons on this trip were great and many.
After visiting the Carrie Wortham Birth Center in Cabestor and attending the moving graduation ceremony of 33 skilled birth attendants, we visited the hospital in Hinche, where the Midwives for Haiti students study and train in the central plateau. This hospital serves about 220,000 people, and provides a variety of services, including labor and delivery, general surgeries, HIV and tuberculosis care. It’s the only hospital in the area and can only be described as a series of buildings with crumbling infrastructures, lacking in tools and staff. The open corridors provide little privacy as anyone walking by can see into the patients’ rooms. Everywhere you look there are sick people walking or sitting around, waiting to be seen or for loved ones. Some women were walking around in active labor. It was difficult to witness after such a hopeful morning.
I realized as difficult as it was to see, it’s what I needed to understand why this education and care is so critical. This is the memory that will push me to do everything in my power to continue to help Every Mother Counts and Midwives for Haiti.
Haiti has a severe shortage of skilled healthcare workers. In fact, these graduates make up a substantial portion of the total skilled birth attendants in Haiti. Some of these graduates will work in settings not unlike the hospital we visited, where they received their clinical training and where their skills and compassionate care is so desperately needed.
This class of midwives, and those before them — they are the heroes. They are the change they want to see and everyone who helped them graduate should wear a badge of pride.
For an especially chatty group of travel companions, we all seemed a little reserved over coffee that final morning. As I went back to my room, I was struck with how much Haiti had changed me. How much I wasn’t ready to leave, even though I was desperately missing my family. I was almost panicked with feelings of “I need to do more” but not knowing exactly what to do. At that point I looked at my new Nikes on my feet. The same ones that carried me fives miles over rugged terrain from the paved road from Mirebalais to Cabestor on that first morning just days before. I realized the shoes symbolized all that Haiti is to me…hope, hard work, overcoming adversity with tenacity and joy. Haiti is a country with lovely people looking to improve their lives, and now there is one more group of educated midwives at the ready to provide care.
April Lopez is an Independent Stella & Dot Stylist. She and her husband have 4 children and live in Houston, TX.