Midwives for Haiti: Graduation

By: Jessica Bowers, EMC’s Director of Grants Program

On February 4th, a small delegation from Every Mother Counts comprised of staff, a board member, and supporters, traveled to Hinche, Haiti to celebrate the graduation ceremony of our grantee partner, Midwives For Haiti’s, (MFH) ninth class of skilled birth attendants (SBAs). Midwives For Haiti trains skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in a 1-year program, many of whom go on to work in rural areas where the need for SBAs is greatest.

Haiti has the highest maternal mortality ratio of any country in the Western Hempishere, but also suffers from a critical shortage of skilled health care providers. Since Midwives for Haiti’s first class of five students in 2006, the organization has trained 155 skilled birth attendants — that figure makes up 20% of the skilled obstetric workers in Haiti. This fact is staggering for a country of nearly 11 million people, and underscores the critical need for skilled health workers in the country.

The graduation ceremony was celebratory– filled with singing, music and inspiring words. But as we have shared over the past week, the ceremony was also marked by tears and heartbreak, following the death of one of the graduates. Guerline Adeka died tragically just five days after giving birth to her daughter, and the same day she took her final exam to certify her as a skilled birth attendant.

Guerline at her postpartum home visit. (Photo by Cheryl Hanna-Truscott)

As Guerline was laid to rest in her hometown of Port Margot (with the entire ninth class cohort in attendance after driving six hours to attend the funeral), we all mourn her death, and at the same time have hope that as the health workforce in Haiti grows and strengthens, these tragedies will be averted.

Guerline at her postpartum home visit. She insisted on wearing her purple class shirt for a photo. She was so proud to graduate this weekend and serve the women of her country. (Photo by Cheryl Hanna-Truscott)

You can give support directly to Guerline’s family here. The funds will go to Guerline’s mother, Mme. Metelus — a nurse at the clinic where Guerline was to work by her side following graduation – to help her care for Guerline’s baby girl. Every little bit helps.

Topics: Childbirth, Maternal Health