Saturday, August 5, 2017

Faces of Haiti

Somehow, this trip has gone by in a flash. We are committed to 2 orphanages and the Midwives for Haiti program. So, it seems, every moment is filled with some activity or other. We've loved every minute of it and the consensus is that we wish we could stay longer. We said goodbye to the girls at Maison Fortuné tonite with another party. We sang and danced and the girls were treated to popcorn, sweet dried mangoes, Jolly Rancher candies and birthday cake! It is Miss Genette's birthday today. We cut up 4 birthday cakes and fed 85 girls. Miss Genette is one of the lead midwives in the program that we have known now for 7 years. I forgot to ask how old she is today, I think mid- to late 40s. She told me this was the first birthday party she ever had.

Here are just some of the beautiful faces of Haiti:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Bèl Dezòd la

(from Dina: Hinche, Haiti)
Early this morning Maria and I took a “ti mache” (little walk) around the corner, literally. We left the Sage Femme pou Ayiti (Midwives for Haiti) house and took 2 quick rights and the most beautiful vista was right in front of us. People walked quietly to work and school while the call of cows and goats lightly filled the air.

Later that day we had our usual visit with the girls at the Orphanage. We have gotten to know them very well after 7 years so we quickly fall into our routine. Viola starts playing a very structured volleyball game which then devolves into different forms of "dezòd" (chaos): dancing to the rhythm of "the bucket", singing, patty-cake, screaming, and “ap fe blag” (making joke).

Last Friday we had our customary "ti fèt la" (little party) for the girls. We bought 120 bags of Chicos and 120 bottles of Tampico. The girls decorated the place and we played music (thanks to our driver David who lent us his "musik bwat"!). This year we brought some chalk to draw on the concrete. That activity lasted about 5 minutes before they started to use the chalk to make up their faces.  The dancing and excitement always grows as it gets darker and darker.

There are 84 girls now at Maison Fortune and they have a very strong bond. We were there to witness several of the girls returning from vacation. "Se Louvitha! Se Losuvitha!," they scream as they go running to meet one of them at the front gate. They surround her with big smiles and laughs, take her bags and walk her to her room.

It is a beautiful chaos.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Haitian Home visits!

I jumped at the chance to do home visits here in Haiti. This is by far my most intimate view into the life of a Haitian mother and baby. Clinically, the visits are largely the same as my visits at home: how are you? how are things with the baby? Is the baby latching well? I weigh the baby, check the mom's abdomen (too often checking her vertical C-section sutures). Culturally, I am wide-eyed and listening. Babies with abdominal bands to make their muscles strong and little strings on their wrists to ward off evil spirits. The dangers of voo doo.  Of course the visits are different because I arrive on the back of a motorcycle to a small alley where people are sitting outside, directing us to the new mother and baby. Sometimes it is a typical Haitian shack away from the downtown of Hinche with barefooted children who run away with a smile and a piwili (lollipop) offered to them by the blan (white lady).

We went to Miss Genette's house today so that she could teach me how to make Haitian meat sauce. It is a savory, salty, peppers and tomato-based sauce with small bits of meat. The meat is usually goat but today we made the sauce with chicken legs, feet and necks.

Here are photos from the first week's home visits:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Busy days!

July 26, 2017

We have been so busy. Then, at the end of the day, when I can finally sit at a computer, sometimes the internet is down. Like tonite. I’m writing this offline and hopefully can post it tomorrow.

Yesterday I went to the ti-clinic. That is the little clinic, meaning 15-20 women will show up as opposed to 60-80. It is 45 minutes on a motorcycle (three to a bike of course!), down the dusty, development road out of Hinche. The midwives come every week to this countryside outpost – a small shack with a dirt floor, a cot, a table and 2 chairs. Outside are wooden, school-room type benches that I assume makes this a small church or schoolhouse. We saw only 10 women, 1 newborn. The midwives talked to them about eating good food. Many of the women seen had had prior C-sections, with wide, vertical scars to their belly buttons. Hinche is just finding the resources to do C-sections now. VBAC is nowhere on their radar.
Upon arrival at the hospital today, all appeared quiet – one woman awaiting a repeat C – section. By 10am, 2 babies had been born – one by C-section, the other to a 3rd timer with high blood pressure. Four midwifery students in bright pink scrubs are working together and attending to the women. Tout bagay anfòm. All is in order. All is good.

There is a new set up in the hospital for the maternity ward. Four exam tables are lined up in a rectangular room, separated by shower curtains blowing in the breeze of the multiple floor fans. White tile and 3 big windows make the place feel clean. Minimal inspection is necessary to notice the blood on the floor, dripping from the end of the exam table where the woman is resting after having given birth. The eye catches the detritus on the moving shower curtains, an unidentified bodily fluid. All of this is an improvement from the last maternity ward, despite the fact that the midwives say that the whole place is too small. When four are delivering at once, I am sure this is the truth.
Despite making 95 baby packs with sanitary pads and “sexy coulottes” (white mesh panties), none of the women I have seen so far in labor and delivery have these supplies. Cloth rags are folded into rectangular wads and placed in a clean pair of underwear. The family brings in a clean pair of clothes for mom and baby less than an hour after birth so that they can both be moved to the postpartum ward. I feel desperate for the supplies, yet I know that there are just so many women coming in. So much to do. We will pass out some of the packs tomorrow at the large mobile clinic so that the women can bring them in when they are in labor.

Other happenings:

Viola and Eva have been going to the orphanages every day. They love the girls, the girls love them.

Dr. Laura has been training 4 midwives how to use a small, portable ultrasound. This is extremely valuable since the Haitian doctors here charge exorbitant amounts to do the exam. There are moments when the midwives need to diagnose a fetal demise, twins, or difficult fetal positions. This is a valuable addition to their skills and services. Until the ultrasound machine breaks down, of course.

Dina has been playing her ukelele, helping with our resident, 6-week old baby. The baby’s name is Mitsushi, but everyone calls her Sushi for short. Her mom is a student with Midwives for Haiti. She’s a single mom and brings the baby to the Midwife House every day before she heads to the hospital for a morning of training in prenatal care. We adore her.

Miss Genette’s brother, Angelo, opened up a fabulous hotel with 14 air-conditioned rooms. Whaaaat?? She invited us all for dinner at the hotel where we met some Canadian teachers. This is where y’all will stay when you come to Haiti with me next year! 

We gave blood today.