We recently received an update from Midwives For Haiti and we wanted to share with you.
“People come very far. Sometimes they walk 4 hours on foot and where they live there are no roads for motos. Or sometimes they come on a wooden boat across the river. Recently, we heard a patient was coming to us but was in trouble. She had walked down a mountain and there was one more mountain for her to climb and she just couldn’t do it. She was in active labor. So went in our car to find her. By the time we found her, she had already given birth in the bushes. A matwòn (traditional birth attendant) was walking with her and she helped deliver the baby. We brought them all back to the birth center and she delivered the placenta here. The mother and baby were given treatment and they were ok!” -Eclide Michel
Eclide grew up in Hinche (where our school is located, about 2.5 hours from the birth center) and is one of six children. She has two sisters and three brothers and said it was challenging growing up in Hinche and her parents weren’t always around. After secondary school, she went to school to become an auxiliary nurse. It was then, during an internship at the hospital, that she had her first experiences in maternity care. “We were always helping with deliveries but we didn’t have any training. One time a mother came in with preeclampsia and I didn’t know what to do! That is what pushed me to become a midwife. I wanted to help that woman. I wanted to help save the lives of moms and babies”.
At the birth center, Eclide explains that mothers get really good care: ” People in Haiti are in need of healthcare. There are lots of hospitals where people do not get any care. And lack of experience means people don’t get good care. But we make sure moms get the best care here. There are moms that were dying before MFH came. There was a significant need for the birth center. People receive more and better care including education: learning warning signs, how to eat, how to prevent pregnancies. The moms are very happy that we do postpartum home visits. They’ve never received that kind of care and they feel safe and secure. The families that come here encourage other patients to come to the birth center.”
Eclide got married last year. “No babies yet!,” she says with a smile. Like the other midwives, each month she works 3 weeks at the birth center and then has a week off at home. When asked if there was anything else she wanted you to know, she said: “Thank you to the donors for thinking of Haiti and paying our salaries so that we can give patients care. Without this support, the patients would not get any care. The salary also allows me and my colleagues to take care of our own families. Thank you for the new scrubs!”
Tilus is one of ten children. She was the 7th born and many of her siblings have families of their own already. She lives “a three hour walk from where I was born.” She explains that although her mom and dad don’t read or write, they were wise enough to make sure she and her siblings went to school. After secondary school, Tilus went to on to train as an auxiliary nurse in Hinche, which is where she learned of Midwives For Haiti. “I was doing my internship at the hospital and there were all the students in their pink scrubs, and they were treating the patients so well, and helping the moms and encouraging them. I had never seen that kind of care before and I knew from then that I wanted to do the training and become a midwife. So when I finished my nursing program, I applied to Midwives For Haiti and I was accepted!”
After she graduated from the program, she went back to her village. There was a health clinic nearby and her sister worked there along with one doctor. Tilus went to the clinic one day looking for her sister and the doctor had pregnant women there. “The doctor knew that I had gone to the MFH school and so he asked me to stay and help with the pregnant women. I was in my regularl clothes but they needed help so I stayed once he explained to the patients who I was and how I would help them. So, I was examining one patient and determined she was past her dates. When I felt her tummy, I could tell the baby was in the wrong position- it was lying sideways. So I told the doctor about the postdates and the presentation of the baby and he asked me what I thought they should do, he had no idea. So I told him that the mom needed to go to the hospital. The doctor referred her and the mom was received at the hospital in Hinche and had c-section. It was much later that I saw the father in town. I didn’t remember him but he remembered me. He told me how grateful he was that I helped his wife.”
Tilus most wants you to know that she works hard. “I’m a good midwife,” she says, and we agree. She’s committed to providing great care and helping mothers and babies. “The people who support us, they need to know that their donations are really, really saving lives. Before, mothers would have to go all the way to Mirebalis (over an hour) and sometimes they wouldn’t make it and die on the way, or the baby would die on the way. But now, they can come to us and if there is a difficulty or complication we will make sure they get the help here, or we will transfer them right away. If this birth center didn’t exist, more and more women and babies would die.”
The Carrie Wortham Birth Center has been open a year and a half and the midwives will proudly tell you that they have had zero maternal deaths.
Marie Nelta Louis
Nelta is a warm, bubbly midwife with an enormous heart. She’s been working at the birth center since we opened in 2015 and says she loves her new scrubs! On our last visit, Nelta was out sick with chicken pox so we will send you a more detailed interview on your next update.
Interesting detail- the box behind Nelta is our very first refrigerator at the birth center and we’re awaiting the installation of a solar panel to use it. Up until now, no food was refrigerated and the “kitchen” was a tiny nook in an out building. We are quite literally “off the grid” and rely on generator power. Cell phone connection is limited and internet is a definite no. The midwives have a strict lights-out policy from 9pm in order to conserve electricity for any laboring moms who might arrive during the night. They also lay their scrubs next to their beds for a quick change– they’re always ready to serve their Haitian sisters.
Thank you for supporting Eclide, Tilus, and Nelta. They are truly an amazing group of women that are making a big impact in Haiti.
Our deepest gratitude,
Midwives For Haiti