Posted: June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

I just read a quote by Kathleen Norris that so applies to Haiti:

“If holding your ground is what you are called to most days, it helps to know your ground.”

We’re holding on.  We’re fighting for our women.  We’re fighting to get through the day not totally frazzled.  Just getting to the program this week has been an  adventure and exercise in patience, driving skills, map reading  if there was a map, leaving the house not realizing that a one minute drive now takes up to 45 minutes.  Avoiding the holes in the road, chatting politely at the police check, not yelling at the driver of the huge truck blocking the way and staying to the right enough to keep my new mirror from getting knocked off again requires some patience.   The route we take has become a lake at one point due to broken water pipes and now it is a blocked lake.  The detour street is wide enough for one vehicle but has become a two way thoroughfare.  That too was blocked this morning so a roundabout road had to be taken.  That road tends to have police checks that further delay traffic.

As always in our program we have huge success and painful losses.  Babies die before they are born because mom is malnourished, doesn’t eat enough or goes to the voodoo healer to start labor.  Babies die after they are born because they go home to a house with bad conditions and extended family insisting the baby be bottle fed.  Sometimes they die because they are born to early and too small.

Success comes in the form of fat babies and moms who are courageous enough to make changes in their lives.

Over the past two weeks we have had a 100 pound 17 year old mom deliver a tiny baby who died several days later.  Another 19 year old who had delivered with us a year ago had pains in her stomach and died two days later leaving a small boy crying for his mom.  We had an 8 month along pregnant mom who decided she was done with being pregnant.  She went for an aggressive massage and came to us later that night.  The baby within had died.  Just a few days later we delighted in the fact that one of our sweet moms might be having twins.  She was accepting of this, was open to the news.  It ended up being one baby  that died and a mass.  Such sadness.  Things we can’t control or change.

We grip onto our successes and breathe them in like fresh air.  Our sweet teen Leonie gave birth in her quiet, gentle fashion and is such an attentive mom.  Success!  On Tuesdays our room is full of women who have gone through our program and boast healthy babies.  They parrot our information like students who have memorized for an exam.

We know the ground we stand on.  We know that culturally breast feeding is misunderstood and disdained.  We know that traditionally women are mistreated and abused.  They don’t have a lot of say in their lives.  We know that when push comes to shove many times superstition wins.

We keep on keeping on.  We fight for our ladies, we keep treating their illnesses, we keep giving good prenatal care, we keep watching over them.  We deliver their babies and hold our breath to make sure they get through the post partum period.

We fight ignorance and superstition.  We fight our own frustrations of traffic, black outs and how so very little is easy here.  We fight because these people matter and they are precious and important.  Their babies have so little chance of living until they are 5 years old.  Hard work and persistent teaching change those statistics.

This is why we keep fighting.  These ladies and these babies need a chance.  Roadblocks, both physical and spiritual get in our way and try to waylay us.  We’ll keep going around the roadblocks and taking the detours because change does happen.  Lives are saved.

We take the “road less traveled” and it’s crowded, full of potholes, has trucks coming at you, ditches to fall into along the side, accidents waiting to happen, cyclists’ to hit, and there is no map if you get lost.  All this on a short ride.  That’s our Haiti, our ground, the place to bring about change and it’s all uphill.  And all runners know that hills make you strong.

Beth McHoul

  1. Raelenna Ferguson says:

    Amazing Beth. Your words are so perfectly said. praying for you all daily. Heartline Women’s program is amazing and truly is making a difference..your perserverance is inspiring!

  2. Stephanie says:

    You have a wonderful ability to write in such a way as to allow your readers to see and feel the challenges of faithfully serving in Haiti. May God continue to bless and use your ministry in mighty ways.

  3. Gail Nelson says:

    Thanks, Beth, for sharing so articulately about life in Haiti. Having lived in Haiti ourselves, I just kept thinking how right on you were as I read your aticle. Thanks for all the work you are doing for the women and babies in your little corner of the world!

    • Lisa Mitchell Bennett says:

      Love the sharing from your heart. Love Kathleen Norris too. I work with Community Health Workers (Promotoras) along the U.S.-Mexico border and can’t help wondering if you all have trained/worked with ladies from local neighborhoods to become lay health workers to model and inspire their neighbors/friends, etc. I assume you’ve thought of/tried this model, but wondering what your experience has been. We have found it to be so much more effective to train and empower the women to do the educating themselves–has more of a snowball effect and they are so much better at addressing deeply held beliefs in their own culture. Thank you for continuing to inspire with your work and words! Lisa Mitchell Bennett

  4. Erin Crisp says:

    I have read your blog and Tara’s for a long time. I think about you and pray for you all regularly, and this particular post hit my like a giant punch in the stomach. I don’t have words.. which is strange cause I’m a fairly wordy person. Just thanking God for you and wishing I had more to give to your work.

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