A Special Birthday Celebration: What is Possible in Haiti
On the birthday of Midwives for Haiti founder, Nadene Brunk, EMC Founder, Christy Turlington Burns, takes a look back at the impact made for Haiti’s mothers, and where it all began.
Our theme, What Is Possible, has motivated our efforts all year. It started in September 2014, when we invited a group of close friends and supporters down to visit with our partners Midwives for Haiti and Partners In Health in Haiti. It was the first trip to Haiti for most of the group but for others, it was a regular check in with grantees and a chance to witness programs we support and the impact they are making in real time.
I will never forget the first time I traveled to Haiti in 2011. I was invited to join Dr. Paul Farmer and a small group of individuals I had come to know through Harvard Medical School on the anniversary of the devastating earthquake. Who better to introduce me to the country than someone like him? This was a man who first traveled down as a medical student thirty years ago and has continued to keep it’s people and spirit in the far-reaching efforts of Partners In Health, and it’s sister organizations, who are tackling some the worlds most urgent global health challenges today.
Since 2011, EMC has modeled our annual trips based on my own experiences from that first visit which inspired EMC to find a way to make Haiti a focal country in our grant portfolio.
I returned home from that trip knowing that EMC had to support work in Haiti because of the maternal mortality ratio (389 at that time, now 359) and lack of healthcare workers. On that first trip I met Cara Osborne who is a midwife, technical advisor for Midwives For Haiti (MFH) and founder Baby+Co. She introduced us to Nadene Brunk, founder and Steve Eads, medical director and within a year, they became our very first grantee.
Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of getting to know Nadene and Steve in and outside of Haiti, as well as many of the volunteers and staff who make this initiative and partnership so meaningful to us. I have come to know a lot more about the healthcare needs of Haitian women and their families. I have also witnessed significant improvements with each visit. The road that takes us out of Port-au-Prince and out to the central plateau is vastly improved and the journey takes half the time it did before 2011.
There is now a small Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Therese Hospital, where the student midwives do their clinical training. The Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais is open and providing the highest attainable medical care for roughly 185,000 people in the catchment area.
By visiting the programs, sharing hopeful stories, and with the involvement and support of our partnerships with Stella & Dot, Rebecca Minkoff, Citizens of Humanity and TOMS, we have been able to expand and further our reach and impact in substantial and unique ways.
Over the last three years our community has continued to grow. Through funds raised from our product partnerships and running initiatives, we have been able to support three classes of Midwives For Haiti students. We also supported the renovation for the Sant Nesans Carrie Wortham Birthing Center, in Cabestor, by providing new equipment, furnishings and supplies for it’s first year of operation — including medicines, consumables, and staff salaries.
Several members of our community have contributed to the birth center by decorating tiles, donated and shipped by Wayfair. A special thank you to the tireless efforts of our board member Christiane Lemieux, volunteers and EMC staff who insured the supplies not only reach Cabestor but assembled all of it in time for the official opening.
With all this effort and love, this birth center will welcome mothers who come for care for years to come.
Thanks to everyone who has participated and helped EMC prove What Is Possible to improve access to quality services and care in Haiti!