Some people have asked “why we built a Birthing Center?” I thought I would take a few minutes to explain some of the problems the poor face here in Haiti.
Poor Haitian women have “very poor health.” They do a lot of the “heavy work,” as many walk for miles in the heat of the sun to carry laundry to the river to wash; they walk up and down mountains with little food to eat; they do not spend money on doctors because “food must always come first.” Many of these mothers have received poor health “from their mother,” and conditions like anemia are very, very common.
I sat to count up all the children from our Children’s Home whose mothers died during or immediately after childbirth from “eclampsia,” which Haitians call “the childbirth fever.” This normally comes from a mother giving birth in unsanitary conditions or the fact that she has “major health problems” and has not been to a doctor…
Our “Haitian children,” Bobby, Christian, Daniel, Daniella, Daphline, David, Davidson, Ericka, Fritzner, Job, Kenzy, Lucson, Mika, Mikalange, Rachael, Samuel, and Yolanda all came to us because their mother died during or immediately after childbirth.
I have been there in a mud hut watching a baby being delivered by a local woman… When it came time to “cut the cord,” the father reached under his dirty mattress and took a rusty razor blade (“gilett” in Creole) for the cord to be cut. The mom started bleeding and the so-called “midwife” reached into the corner of the mud hut and grabbed some dirty rags on the floor to stop her bleeding! This all happened so fast and I was in such shock that I could not even say anything!!
Our Birthing Center is clean, beautiful, and peaceful, with Christian music playing. All the pregnant women must come to our “Women’s Teaching Center” every month before going inside for their check-up. The women receive pre- and post-natal care. They learn about good health, how to take care of their baby or toddler when they have little food to choose from, and they especially learn about “birth control.” Our midwives realize that Haitian men are the “boss” in the family and a woman cannot say “no” to her husband. These classes are “their time” to ask questions and learn about the many ways “not to get pregnant.” They also learn that some of the old teachings handed down are not good…such as “you must have a lot of children because some of them will die, and you need to have to have children left to take care of you in your old age.” Instead, our midwives teach them that “it is better to have fewer, healthier children, who will grow up to have an education or a job and take care of you when you are old.”
It is so, so sad to have a poor father come down from the mountains with a baby in his arms and tears in his eyes after the baby’s mother dies in childbirth. It is “another mouth to feed,” and another child left without its mother.
We always want to treat the poor like they are “rich” because in God’s eyes, they are! We are so thankful for our friends and partners who helped us build this Birthing Center. God bless you all. Sherry