Haiti Mothers

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I listened to a speaker recently who spoke on the dangers of a single story. I am referring to the unfairness of knowing one thing about a culture, a country, a situation, a person and then making assumptions.  For many people the only thing they know about Haiti is poverty.  That’s it.  Poverty compounded by a catastrophic earthquake.  Poverty compounded by political troubles, poverty compounded by cholera and so on.

The heartbeat of our maternity center is our relationship with our women.  That is why it works.  Over the year and a half women spend in our program we get to know them.  They begin to trust us, accept what we teach and then see the fruit of it.   A healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, a healthy, good sized baby, a breast fed fast growing, chubby baby are things they can expect when they are part of our program.  We have exceptions but they are few.

Haitian women love their babies and have dreams for their children just like moms everywhere.  They value education.  They want to make right choices and do so when new ideas are presented in an atmosphere of trust and relationship.   Haitian moms love and care for their babies while dealing with hardships most of us can’t imagine.  We have a mom who is nursing her second set of twin girls.  She is tired, she is weak and yet she keeps going.  She shows up every Tuesday for class with both girls.  She delivered them via cesarean section and I noticed she didn’t seem to be rebounding.  She hedged questions on how much she was eating, she made excuses, she didn’t want me to figure out that she wasn’t eating much.  Too many other mouths to feed.  Yet, she is breastfeeding her girls because we taught her to do so.  Because of time spent together, because our staff has relationship we were able to get to the bottom of this and help with food.  She is a woman of dignity who cares for her family at a cost to herself.

Our moms come to love each other and they form community while going through our program.  They visit each other in our postpartum wing after they give birth.  We hear them laughing and joking while they visit.

Haitian culture is rich in so many aspects.  We notice when we drive our moms home after they deliver that the neighbors come running and cheer the mom and the newborn.  These are folks that live in tiny cement houses without plumbing or often electricity.  Yet they have community, they have friendship, they have joy.

Haiti is not the single story of poverty.  It is so much more.  Yes, people are often poor.  They often struggle.  They survive in terrible circumstances.  But as we care for mothers through their pregnancy, birth, postpartum and well baby months we grow to know mothers.  Mothers with dreams, struggles, hopes, grief and joy.  Mothers like mothers everywhere.  Mothers who want the best for their children, mothers who sacrifice for their children.

On this Mother’s Day I want to honor the mothers who trust us with their prenatal care and birth.  I want to honor the women who attend our program week after week and practice what they learn.  I want to honor the women who teach what they learn to their neighbors and other mothers.  I want to honor the women, who against all odds, will be agents of change in this country.  In so very many ways they are rich indeed!

Beth McHoul

  1. Kim says:

    Love this blog. My husband and 18 yr old daughter went to St.Nicholas Mole last March. They were not prepared for how loved and cared for the children were. Also the beauty of the beaches, the rainforest and the generosity of the people, the singing…American idol needs to go to Haiti to find the real talent..

  2. Michelle Ruebke says:

    Amen, Sistah! Preach it! 🙂

  3. Greg Dotson says:

    Beth… loved this post. Like my dear Wendy, you have a way with words, and such insight into the hearts of the women you serve. I honor them with you…

    … Also, thanks for bringing my cell phone to me at the airport… and our wonderful stay with you.

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