Monday, September 3, 2012

A Party with the Student Midwives

Midwifery Student Suzette and I, we worked together the first week

Me and my good friend, Esther

Guerlie and I

One of the things that was most different for me on this trip was my own deeper connection with the midwives. Many of the senior midwives are truly becoming friends as we get to know each other year after year. Genette, Magdala, Filomen, Guerlie, Marie Denise, Esther. The first year that I came to Haiti, I was excited to get to know them all, but had little facilitation of that process. The in-country coordinator of the Midwives for Haiti program went on vacation hours after our arrival and just said what amounted to, “You can handle it, right?” Ami and I did a great job of just jumping in, even without any Kreyol. Half way through our 2-week stay, I thought, the program should have some sort of get-together for the future volunteers to meet the Haitian students and midwives. I should recommend this in my feedback to the program. Not long after thinking that I thought, well, why don’t WE have a party?
So, that’s how our partying with the Haitian midwives began. This year, we had the party at the new Midwives for Haiti compound. It is a large, beautiful house with room for their classroom, guest rooms, kitchen, dining room, nice bathroom and shower. Upstairs, a whole second apartment is where Marthonie, the Haitian nurse-midwife and Director of the program stays. The cook at the house prepared the food for the party that amounted to larger amounts of what we always eat: rice, sauce, fried chicken legs, fritay (fried plantains and acra) and pikliz. I made a chocolate cake from a cake mix that I bought at the Ebenezer grocery story. The Ebenezer is an air-conditioned grocery that caters largely to foreigners and wealthier Haitians. Although it is the biggest grocery store in Hinche (or maybe the only), it still only had 3 aisles. Most Haitians buy their provisions at the outdoor market: produce; spaghetti; beans; Magi bouillon cubes which are put in EVERYTHING; canned tomato paste; large, round disks of manioc cracker bread; beef, goat, chicken both live and parts; 50 pound bags of American rice. Carrie made brownies from a coveted box of brownie mix brought from the states. The cook made two more strawberry cakes with actual frosting and decorations.
The party got to a slow start since in the beginning the food was not ready. I showed a slide show of photos of the current class that everyone enjoyed. Then, Ami, Dina and I sang them an updated version of our Kreyol song. We created the song the first year from all of the Kreyol that we knew which was very little. The song says: How are you? How are you? I don’t know, Not know. Then it goes into many of the Haitian greetings for each other: Pa pi mal, Nou la, Na boule, etc. It is a very funny little song that every one really loves because Dina plays ukelele and everyone joins in. This year we added a couple of verses:
Nou konnen plis  (We know more)
Kreyol pou nou  (Creole for you)
Pou chante nou (To sing to you)
Pi bon chante   (A better song)
Le nou travay  (When we work)
Pou bebe yo  (with the babies)
Se la vi  (It’s their lives)
N’ap sove  (We are saving!)
Kijan ou ye?  (How are you?)
N’ap kenbe.  (We’re holding on.)
Pral retorne  (We will return)
Ane procien  (Next year)
Pral sonje nou  (We will remember you)
E espere  (and we hope)
Ki nou ka sonje nou!  (That you can remember us!)

It was a big hit and we have it all on video. I’ll see if we can get it up on YouTube.
Needless to say, we all had a ball at the party, the food was demolished and everyone went home content. The midwives sang us their song of thanks at the end which was the perfect ending to our stay with them. As we were leaving, we noticed the huge pile of dishes in the sink and the two cooks preparing to do the clean up. We felt bad to leave all the mess, but then we noticed that they were happy and singing our song. It was a good day for all.

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