by Echo Zielinski
On January 12th 2010, the Caribbean island of Haiti was rocked by a powerful and devastating earthquake that killed over 160,000 people and displaced close to 1.5 million more. Prior to the earthquake, many had no clue where Haiti was located, what kind of impoverished conditions it’s people were living in, or about it’s rich history of slavery and overcoming the French. Once the giant quake hit though, Haiti was once again “put on the map” and many have since fallen in love with it’s people, it’s tenacity, and have committed their hearts, time, and money to help support these people whom they have grown to love.
MamaBaby Haiti was birthed just after the earthquake when a few local Portland midwives went down to help provide relief; what they saw when they got there though, was something they knew they could not walk away from. Mothers and babies were dying every day and not from extreme illness or catastrophic conditions, but simply because they did not have the proper skilled attendants assisting them in something as normal as giving birth. In Haiti 1 in 263 women who have a live birth will die in childbirth or in the immediate postpartum period.
Healthy women make for healthy families
The reason why women do not seek prenatal and birth care in Haiti is twofold. One, they do not have access to skilled birth attendants, and two, they cannot afford to pay what is typically charged for a woman to give birth. This is where we come in! MamaBaby Haiti is a birth center and health clinic and we provide a safe place for Haitian women to receive compassionate and respectful FREE prenatal, birth, postpartum, and gynecological care at the hands of skilled Haitian midwives. Where there is severe poverty, mothers often have to choose between food for their family or having a skilled attendant at their birth- it is our core belief that no mother or family should every have to make this impossible choice. We are dedicated to improving the health and well being of the women and infants of Haiti, one woman and one child at a time. This vision is achieved through the application of evidence based midwifery care, delivered primarily by Haitian midwives and supported by volunteer midwives from around the world.
Our clinic has been open now for just over 5 years and we are doing some incredible things. Apart from the daily grind of providing hope and care to the women and babies we see, we are now in the process (thanks in part to Hear the Cry) of starting our very own midwifery school. Currently, the nearest school is in Hinche, which is a 5 hour bus ride away on treacherous roads. All of our current midwives currently come from this part of Haiti, which has forced them to live apart from their families for much of the year. We are planning on training local Cap Haitian nurse auxiliary’s to become internationally recognized midwives where they will then be able to serve their own communities, stay with their families, and work at our clinic and in mobile clinics so that no mother will be without prenatal and birth care.
Haitians serving Haitians
One of the most powerful things Jesus did in the gospel was not turn his back on the oppressed, but He would stop to meet their basic needs. Jesus’s hand has been on MamaBaby Haiti from day one and we know that He is pleased that there are people loving and caring for the least. We are an incredibly small non profit who is monthly depending on the generosity of ordinary people hearing about what we do and believing with us in the changes being made. If you want to find out how you can get involved and/or how to support us, please email me at email@example.com.
We want to see Haiti and her people thrive and daily feel so honored to be able to play even the smallest part in providing education, jobs, healthcare, and hope for a new way of life to each and every Haitian we meet.