Christina came to prenatals for the first time today and she sat in the front row in class. She is 17 but could pass for 12. She is tiny, adorable, sad with a baby bump bursting through her ill-fitting clothes. She watched every move I made while I taught a lesson on post-partum do’s and don’ts. I reminded the class that one woman around the globe dies every minute and a half of childbirth related causes. I told them our program exists to fight that statistic.
Christina came to us through a knock on Haitian Creations gate – our neighbor and sister program. Her own sister was looking for an orphanage to place her kids and heard that Haitian Creations might be such a place. It is just the opposite actually, Haitian Creations is a place that helps to empower women to keep their children. A place of busy activity and artisans at work who are earning a living to support themselves and their families.
Christina had heard about the maternity program. She heard rumors of who gets in and who doesn’t. Not credible information and John who was passing by, told her to come see us and check out if she might be able to get in the program. He told her to come in the morning at 9:00 AM and don’t be late. She came at 8:00.
From the information gathered she is due to have her baby in June. We have lots of babies due in June. We might not sleep and stay awake the entire month of June on coffee and chocolate because of so many babies. We midwives all told each other we can’t take anyone else due in June – but we all agreed we had to take this 17 year old. She is worth losing sleep over.
Her history is sad and no teen should have experienced such things. She should be in school, she should be protected, she should be giggling and carrying a backpack full of heavy books rather than a belly full of a baby. She was in the fifth grade when she “fell pregnant” as they say, with no hope of ever moving on to grade six. In Christina’s world, life happens to you and you sadly try to cope with its consequences. If her family fails her then she would look for a man to give her a roof over her head and keep on despairing as life happens to her. It isn’t fair.
As the weeks roll on in her pregnancy Christina will get prenatal care, food, and a safe birth. She will also learn about responsibility, making good choices in our circumstances, and she will hear the gospel. She will hear things she has never heard before. She will be loved. We are a community where women really do care about one another.
Some of our teenagers have turned out to be great little moms. They listen to us, look to us for help and truly love their babies. They need support, encouragement and love. When shown a better path they take it.
Haiti has no shortage of Christina’s. Young, pregnant, hurt girls with no escape route. But this time, this Christina has our program. We can’t be all she needs but we can be a key piece. We can help. And sometimes that’s just what they need to flourish.