Posted: November 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Our ladies lives remind me of the road we drive on to get to the maternity center.  The road is thin, pot holed, full of obstacles and there are ditches on either side full of water and muck.  If a big truck, a fast driving car, or a misstep happens,  in you go into the ditch.  You need a helping hand to get out and usually it is costly.    Passersby giggle at you and those safe in their vehicles may mock, inwardly grateful it wasn’t them.    Each time I drive this stretch of road I am aware of the ditches and use all my wits to keep out of them.  I dread the day when I will have to call John and tell him that I fell into the “car catcher.”

Our ladies lives are like that.  They use all their energy, money, resources and skills to stay out of Haiti’s car catchers.  They try to do the things we teach them.  Most take their vitamins, try to drink the gallons of water we suggest and try to eat healthy foods.  They breastfeed their babies and wait in line at our scale each week to see if their baby has gained weight.

Our fat healthy babies are proof that this works.  They cruise along the middle of the road, avoiding the ditches and along comes a mack truck that squeezes them over the edge and into the muck they go.  Sometimes there is no hand to pull them out and they drown.

Yvetta is a young mom who is in our beading program.  She is sweet and hopeful.  She has been through our literacy program twice but still the acceptance of those around her who have education elude her.   She brought her sister Fifi to our prenatal program.  Fifi doesn’t know how old she is but she is an older woman for pregnancy.  She is quiet, stoic and flat.  Yesterday one of our midwives saw her for her prenatal and the intuition alarm bells went off.   Gestational diabetes was suspected and a glucose test done.  We sent her off to another hospital hoping they will let her into their high risk program.  This stoic lady sat weeping when we told her what we were thinking.  Hospitals are hard to get into and for the poor dignified treatment is not always given.

Mary Lourdes has been in and out of our program for years.  She is paper thin, gaunt and sad.  She has six children.  A few years ago we sent the family for TB testing.  I see her from time to time on my morning runs.  She squats and sells charcoal.  Her long, thin arms wrapped around the marmets of black chunks of fuel.

Lately she has been showing up at our Friday Bible Study/Family Planning day.  Not for Bible Study or family planning but for help.  Her husband went missing.  A family man with a humble job who worked every day.  A man with school tuition for the children who went to pay the bill and never came home.  Local scuttlebutt is that he was murdered.  No CSI investigators around here – she’ll never know what happened to him.

Her sobs pierce our hearts and fill our eyes with tears.  Her bony back sits slumped while we pray with her.  She sobs from deep within.  This isn’t fake, this isn’t show business, this is pain.  Deep pain.  She fell in the ditch.  Aaron and Heather and one of their supporters are helping to pull her out.

Two other young moms hang around waiting for attention and help.  Djenie brings in baby Kenny who is sick again.  Week after week, sickness after sickness, treatment after treatment.   She is walking close to the edge.   Though offered many opportunities Djenie can’t seem to find the skills to make changes in her life.  Kenny pays the price.

Another Jenny shows up.  Between sobs she tells us she is pregnant again.  Her mother in the countryside has her first child.  She begs us for money to abort.  We tell her no but promise to help her and take her into the prenatal program.  She arrives early the next day for prenatals.  This time smiling rather than crying.  Hope has cracked open the door and despair left.  She missed falling into the ditch.  We realize she will need constant input and help.

Esther, a young girl in our program called that her water had broken.  We waited for labor.  While we did her blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, meds were started and she eventually delivered her baby with us.  She hemorrhaged after the birth.  More blood than I had ever seen at a birth.  We knew, she knew, both she and baby would have died if she had delivered at home.  We used many medicines, and highly skilled midwives saved her life.

Esther sat with Agathe and gave her life to Christ before going home a few days after the birth.  She knew God had saved her.  She came to program Tuesday holding her baby proudly, sitting in class, glad to be alive and breast feeding her newborn.    Two lives saved.

Day after day I drive the short, skinny road home from the maternity center to my house.  Every day I avoid the ditches and breath a sigh of relief when I make it home.  I’ve had more near misses than I can count.  And so have our ladies.  They walk the edge, their feet slip, the mud grips, the sludge beckons.  The ladies live in the “land of unlimited impossibilities” as John says.

With constant prayer, with help, with a hand up, many make it, many succeed, many avoid the ditch.  Those that help Heartline stand as lifeguards on the edge of the ditches helping our ladies not to fall in.  You help them stand!

Thank you for making a difference here in Haiti.

Beth McHoul


  1. Paul Beltis says:

    Beth, God Bless you & John, and all the folks with Heartline! What an incredible blessing you all are to the many, many ladies & babies. All these 20+ years speaks to a strength & faith that are amazing. As for me & my house, we will continue to pray for ALL of you daily. Thank you for the giving you all do, day in & day out.

  2. Agnes says:

    Powerful Beth…thank you!

  3. Michaela says:

    These women are so precious. Thank you for loving them, advocating for them, walking alongside them in life.

  4. Karen says:

    I didn’t know Esther gave her life to Christ. My heart is smiling. I am one of the ladies who prayed for her before the birth of her baby boy. Please hug her for me.

  5. Just popped over from T & T’s blog. Powerful analogy. Thanks for sharing.


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