In Memory of Carrie Wortham

In memory of Carrie Wortham, by EMC’s Clancy McCarty.

I traveled to Haiti for the first time in January of 2013 to begin production on a year long documentary series on the student midwives at Midwives for Haiti, which was EMC’s first step in funding programs.

Despite all of my previous travels to foreign countries, I was nervous to travel to Haiti, even scared. Haiti felt completely mysterious and unpredictable to me — a common misconception, I later learned. Jessica, flying from DC, and I, flying from NYC, met at the airport in Port-au-Prince. Upon arrival and feeling pretty lost, we were greeted by a firey redheaded girl named Carrie Wortham.

Carrie was the in-country volunteer coordinator for Midwives for Haiti, meaning that she, a young girl straight out of college, was living in the central plateau of Haiti managing the student midwives and volunteers (midwives, OBs from the US and Canada) who were coming in and out of Haiti every couple weeks to assist the school. I was immediately jealous of her experience and in awe of her, and relieved by her calmness and confidence in Haiti. As we made our way to Midwives’ mobile clinic that doubled as our ride to and from the airport, she greeted everyone who came our way and with complete warmness, much curiosity and many questions, hugs, and at that time, broken Creole.

That first trip to Haiti, just like every other trip that followed that year, were some of the most memorable, educational, and inspirational experiences I have ever had, and much of that is because of Carrie. Midwives for Haiti is a program run by truly passionate, loving and committed individuals like Carrie. Carrie formed life-long bonds with the students and graduates. Her relationship with Nadene, the founder, and Steve, the medical director, was one of a family — they were a unit. She was one of those people that no matter how difficult it was to get something done, she got it done- and in Haiti, nothing comes easy. We continued to speak in between travels and discuss the various topics of development in Haiti and share advice on how to better grow MFH’s social media presence and create better fundraising platforms. She educated me on Haiti and reminded me the importance of this line of work through her love and devotion to MFH and the midwives.

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As we continued to travel to Haiti throughout the year, I saw Carrie begin to grow as any 23 year old would if they were spending a year in Haiti among midwives and pregnant women — she was getting into a solid routine, dedicating herself to a strict schedule of dance lessons, pretty much fluent in Creole, and had mastered the art of driving the tank/monster truck of a mobile clinic. One of my favorite memories is when she took us all out dancing one night, cramming all the volunteers, student midwives, myself, Christy and our cinematographer Belony, into the back of the mobile clinic. She sped over the bumpy road through pitch-black streets to the local night club, and we all sat watching this bold redheaded girl put us all to shame with her dance moves.

Carrie eventually handed over the reigns to the next young girl, fresh out of college, and moved back to Richmond, VA where she continued working with MFH helping to grow their presence and advise the organization. We all remained close and would see Carrie at future graduations in Haiti, and it was like she had never left — she represented Midwives for Haiti.

On Saturday, September 5, Carrie was struck by a car while riding her bicycle back home in Virginia, and killed. It’s pretty difficult to comprehend death, especially for someone who at such a young age made such an impact, and was so full of positive energy, ambition, and love. However, Carrie’s devotion and impact will be replicated and continue on through the many people she touched. I feel so fortunate to have known her and learned from her.

To honor Carrie’s work by making a donation to Midwives for Haiti in Carrie’s memory, please click here and write Carrie’s name in the notes.

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