A beautiful mommy rode by me on the back motorcycle with a few day old baby in her right arm

March 15th, 2017

Wednesday in Haiti.
This morning we worked on organizing supplies and then I decided to go pick up more trash. The clinic was full of mamas, babies, nurses, midwives and students. There were prenatals and vaccines happening. Busy stuff.
When you contemplate vaccines do you ever contemplate the developing world. We see so many volunteers with such a variety of beliefs. Here we offer and many people come. It’s a thing to think about.
So while I was picking up trash I learned that I should really hire a crew to clean up my field. So this is what I did. Five mean worked so hard. Cleaned up the field in front of MamaBaby Haiti and burned that trash right up. You see there is a lot of trash in Haiti and the infrastructure at this time just doesn’t have a perfect solution. For today, this was ours and this was what I was called to do on this trip among the countless, literally countless other things I’ve done. Oh like I chased and petted a baby goat. I mean it did happen but it probably wasn’t a calling, or maybe it was 😆.
Back to my morning. After my initial trash pick up plan I walked back to the birth center gates. A beautiful mommy rode by me on the back motorcycle with a few day old baby in her right arm and a big red and blue umbrella in her left that she was holding up over her head in the hot sun. They stopped at the gate. Mommy’s hair was beautiful. She was wearing really nice jeans and a hot pink shirt and her baby was all dressed in hot pink. Yes the less than a week old baby was cradled in her right arm on the back
of a motorcycle. Contemplate the world. It’s a different and very efficient world. People work very hard, get where they need to go and love their families. It’s just different.
After that we had a mama with a blood pressure of 164/125. We decided to transport. Her Matron brought her here. A Matron is a traditional typically untrained midwife, take it as you may. I’ll add before I go on that there are many trainings offered to the Martons from many organization. So the ones that seek training do get some. I have a heart for midwives so please hear no complaints in my words. She was lovely. She brought her mama to us. A mama that has received prenatal care here, she brought for a complication. I gave her a couple boxes of gloves and several sterile gloves to take back home because she sees many many women.
Regardless, we packed that mama up. She was so stressed. The family was very worried because they have no money. At the same time I found out that the mama we transported on Saturday for preeclampsia was still at the hospital. They wouldn’t let her leave until she paid. So thank God I had some extra money in me.
2000 gourdes per mama. One to go to the hospital, one to get out. Then 2000 gourdes for five guys to clear a field of trash and to burn it.
For reference I encourage you to go into a currency conversion and learn what Haitian Gourdes are to US Dollars. It will be very educational.
Oh my goodness speaking of I met a group of women today that have a clinic about 15 miles from here from an organization called Soaring Unlimited they have a primary care clinic and are opening a birth center and they brought a couple of women from Construction org called Building Goodness Foundation. They have been using MamaBaby Haiti as a birth center to model after.
It was really cool to meet them and know they are a primary care clinic we can refer to if needed.
What happened next? Oh so many things.
We waited for the tap tap to return. Then we went to buy new batteries for the solar panel system. That was expensive. Oh my word. We had to pick up the man that sells the batteries at the hospital in Cap Haitien. He is also an administrator for the free vasectomy clinic there. So I not only got new batteries. I also got free vasectomy pamphlets.
Then we went back to the market. Honestly, I could be there everyday. I saw every fish you could imagine for sale. I also bought a plaintain smasher. So that I can make real Haitian plantains at home. We bought, plantains, bananas, and oranges that look like big limes. Darren was very popular with the ladies when he pulled out his money in the plantain section. He was even hugged and held onto.
It was a good day at the market. Claudin may have bought a turtle. Emily told him not to because it will live 100 years and she knows because she has a 10 year old turtle she loves named Franklin at home. He said he bought it to mark this time with us. It was a really cute turtle called a red eared slider. He also bought a big container for it. I just love the market. I just love my friends here. I just loved today.
We headed back home to MamaBaby after that. On the way back a motorcycle pulled up next to Darren, we were in the back of the tap tap going down the road, and the rider said hello to him, asked him how he was and asked Darren how do you like my country? Darren said it’s beautiful. The motorcycle rider thanked him smiled very big and rode off.

How can I explain Haiti?
So many think oh poor Haiti and yes there are many things that people struggle with here but overall Haiti is amazing. The Haitian people are strong and beautiful and proud, as they should be. They stood for their rights and their freedom and won. This country is lush and beautiful, surrounded by oceans, filled with rivers and mountains. It’s an amazing place. Are the struggles here real? Yes, they are very real. Haiti is still an amazingly beautiful country filled amazing people. Please remember that. I feel so passionate about my work here because I see the people here as my friends and I love them and I love Haiti. Please hear that. When I ask for support in Haiti I ask because #1 I was called here by a force bigger than myself, #2 I love the people here, #3 amidst the beauty here the struggle is real. Thank you for reading that.
We arrived back to MBH our trash was burning and the sky was filled with smoke. I’m not proud but I’m proud. The field that was full of trash is clean.

MamaBaby Haiti

We were tired.
Darren set up the new batteries. They seem to be working. Yay!!
Then I got called in to check on a mama. She had been in labor at home with a Matron and pushing for some time. She was swollen and tired.
I checked her dilation and her vitals. She was 1cm. There were other factors but none were to big a deal. I said she’s not in labor. She needs to sleep. We gave her a glass of Natural Calm magnesium and put her to bed. We will likely send her home in the morning. She was so tired.
Then two more moms came in. One will stay and have a baby. The other will go and return when labor picks up.
Our days and our nights, each and everyone are full. We have had so many rich experiences this trip. I’m sad to say that tomorrow will be my last full day in Haiti for this trip.
What will tomorrow bring?


We left Haiti today

March 17th, 2017


We left Haiti today. Oh man my belly. Wow!!! I took oregano and digestzen in a capsule. It was like the best combination ever for the Haiti belly woes.
There were births all night. A mommy hugged my so tight in labor I almost fell down. I had to leave her birth to pack and have meetings all morning with our staff. I met with our transport driver Alex, our two cervical cancer screening nurses and a future midwifery student. In all of my meeting I missed meeting with our midwife Miss Aloude. We met many times, did birth and saw each other daily. It just didn’t happen. She was in the midst of a birth storm. There was baby after baby after baby all night in the big rainstorm. I will do an online meeting with her from home. The mama I left birthed a beautiful baby girl quickly who had two teeth. Imagine that, two teeth.
It was time to leave all of the sudden and I tried to run and give hugs and kisses but I did not make it to everyone. This makes me sad but gives a reason to return. Please know I didn’t mean to leave without goodbyes. I didn’t want to miss my plane.
I’m sending love to all my Haitian friends, love to my other friends there and so much love to Haiti. This was the best trip ever. I am so happy to be part of the incredible team at MamaBaby Haiti. I’ll be back before you know it with a good bit of Creole under my belt just as I promised.
Thank you Claudin for taking such good care of everyone’s needs including ours while we were there.
Now I’m having a drink and meal stateside. Emily is enjoying a salad. I can’t believe how quickly that happened.


I’m humbled by each and everyone

March 16th, 2017


Thursday in Haiti.
My last day here was kind of chill but really busy. The sunrise was beautiful and so was the rain. I sat on the roof a couple different times.
I interviewed several of the MamaBaby Haiti staff and I’m humbled by each and everyone of them. I learned about their lives, their families, where they live and what they think we can do to make things better here at MamaBaby Haiti.
We had a transport today for a variety of compounding borderline complications and I learned a cesarean costs 15,000 gourdes and that doesn’t even include the medications.
They had special food made for us all day. Seafood soup with dumplings for lunch, we went to one of the student midwives birthday parties, and lasagne for dinner.
At dinner I learned that none of the midwives knew we were leaving tomorrow. They were disappointed. I have been so busy I didn’t communicate that. We all shared stories and well wishes around dinner.
Darren and I have waxing and waning belly aches over the last couple days. It’s a travel thing. I feel pukey.
There have been many labors and babies today.
Kim and Emily have been busy in the birth room.
I need to pack now.
I have more interviews in the morning.
I’m not ready to leave.
I’m also struggling to put today into words.
I’m tired and not feeling great.


You know I didn’t go to as many births as you might think I would have in Haiti this time, although there were many. My mind and my plate so to speak was filled with so many other things. My goal was to get to know the staff and understand the ins and outs of MamaBaby Haiti the best I could. I feel like I did that. I feel proud that I did that. I feel more connected and ready to move into the next phase with them. Tonight I expressed that we are all on a team and how much I love, respect and trust them. I meant it.

Now I’m going to sleep to the sound of women downstairs giving birth at MamaBaby Haiti.


amusing and exhausting adventure

March 14th, 2017

Tuesday in Haiti.
We had a packed house of prenatal appointments, anemia checks and two first time mamas in labor. It was busy. We have several midwives and students here from Haiti and abroad and all hands were busy. It was a beautiful thing to see.
I on the other hand was busy with other things and thoughts. I did my laundry by hand again today. Carmi the cook helped me. Everyone helps each other here. It’s a sweet thing. It’s like a big family. Then I helped Monise wash the windows. We worked hard to get them nice a clean with Windex and newspaper.
Then I decided I needed to clean the lot next door and all the gutters up of trash which is a week long project for sure.
I started by taking a picture of all the trash. A man walked by and said why to you all want to take pictures of my Haiti like that. I showed him my bags and explained we have many volunteers here. I am going to clean this up. He told me he was sorry, thanked me for loving his Haiti and shook my hand. I filled four trash bags today full of a variety of trash, cans, bottles, bags of poo, etc… I also made sure to step in a giant pile of cow poo. I was really working. I figure I’ll fill 8 more bags tomorrow and maybe 8 the next day. Maybe the landowners will let us use the space for a garden we clean it up.
Darren was busy on the roof working on the batteries that connect to the solar panels. He and Claudin talked to the solar guys last night trying to figure out how to fix the charge issues we are having. It’s a big ordeal. Hopefully we get this all figured out.
Then Emily, Darren, Claudin and I went into town for the day. I had this idea that we needed bath mats. So bath mats aren’t a thing in Haiti. So it took us a while. Ultimately I found two that will work. They are used. They need to be washed and they cost me more than I imagined they would but I got them. You see the tiles are so slick here. I decided bath mats would save a life. All in all it was a pretty amusing and exhausting adventure. I even bargained a bit, with Claudin’s help.
We weren’t only in town for bath mats. We also went to the mechanic where our land cruiser is stored. Darren will spend the day there tomorrow helping to fix that vehicle and hopefully get it back home.
Our ambulance is in the port. It was filled with boxes. We couldn’t get the ambulance but we did get all of the boxes and brought them home in our tap tap. So many donations!!! Thank you!!!

We went for lunch at Le Kay. It’s a funny restaurant on the beach here. They serve burgers and Emily was able to get a vegetarian plate. This place was filled with well dressed Haitians and Internationals. It’s a trippy little place. Apparently we are trying to have all the experiences here.
After lunch we ran to the pharmacy. I could hear beautiful singing and I had to jump out of the car and follow the music. Down the road and around the corner I found a church with the most beautiful echoing song coming from its open doors. I stood in the doors eyes closed just feeling it. It was good for my heart today.
As I was waking away for the church I then heard familiar horn sounds what I’ve come to know as a Haitian funeral procession. The horns were followed by hundreds of uniformed children and scholarly dressed adults following behind. Clearly, someone special died. It was something to see.
We made it home to hear two baby boys were born without complication.
We emptied the tap-tap of donations. We carried them up two flights of stairs. We all got sweaty. So much stuff.

I ended my evening by doing interviews with two more of our midwives. I’m interviewing our staff while I’m here in Haiti. I’m learning so much about them all as well as hearing what works here and ways they feel we can make improvements.
My time left here feels so short. I will miss everyone here once I leave. At this moment as I type this we are all out on the patio. Emily and Aloudes son are playing dominos and Carmelle is getting her hair braids done by a friend. Darren is reading a book. It’s a nice night. I am feeling so blessed to have all these amazing humans in my life. The mosquitoes are a little bitey tonight. I may have to get some bug spray soon. Malaria is still a thing.
There is someone outside singing on and off tonight too.
Haiti you have my heart.
I may have also said “Oh my gosh, this is just like Pirates of the Caribbean” today. That’s a product of growing up in Southern California. I can make all sorts of Disneyland references to life. It took me a few minutes to realized omg I’m in the Caribbean. Wow!!!! My life in a nutshell.


It was a long and crazy day

March 13th, 2017

Monday in Haiti started with Darren and Claudin working a little on statistics upstairs and with prenatal clinic, education, a man spoke about labs offered outside MamaBaby and we had our HIV and syphilis testing clinic downstairs. The place was so packed people were everywhere even outside looking in through the doors and windows.
Darren and I went into Cap Haitien with some our of MBH staff, Claudin and Rose. We had to deal with errands, like picking up IV fluids, and paying bills and that kind of stuff, the expensive stuff. We were so busy for hours.
We also went into the market again to buy more kitchen supplies like big knives, forks, pans and food covers.
While at the market I did go into the Voodoo section of the market. I just wandered around looking at things. There were potions, candles, scarves, and art just to mention a few things. Haiti has a very rich culture and although it may make some people I know uncomfortable to hear this is a very big part of that rich culture. It was fascinating and I could definitely feel an energy shift when I entered the area.
After we left the market we ran more errands and had some amazing street food. Again, I know I keep saying it, Haitian food is amazing!!!
We went to different market areas in different markets to look for bowls to eat out of. That was a big challenge. It’s not like the US you can’t just run to some big box store for things. I want to say volunteers brings bowls and leave them. Then again I want to say come here and buy the things our clinic needs at the Haitian street markets. It seems to be a much better way to support the people.
I also thought deeply about the history of Haiti. The buildings mostly old French design. There is to pretty cool old architecture. These buildings, these doors, these walkways all tell some pretty big stories. I was imagining those stories today.
Haitians are a strong, proud, kind people. I imagine from a very young age many people here are taught to take pride it their powerful history. I’m just thoughtful today, very thoughtful.

Emily and Kim attended a lovely birth with a couple of students from Liberty who are also here for the week helping out.

This week is going to be so busy.