Monday, June 13, 2011


Reposting Beth's blog ...

The ladies in our program come to us.  Our turf.  They come on foot, on tap tap and on moto-taxi at least once a week if not more often depending on how many of our programs they are in.  Most make pretty big efforts to look spiffy and they always doll up their babies.  It’s very cute.  American style relaxed, hot weather, attire is a mystery to them.

Why would one purposefully look so awful they wonder?  They especially wonder this about John.  He comes through every now and again, disrupts class, and buys everyone ice cream from the vendor and then he is off again.  Always disheveled and soiled, the ladies gawk at him, wonder who is he and then enjoy the ice cream.  Those that know him fill the ladies in on the scoop that he’s the head of this place but dresses like a “foo” (crazy person).

A few of our ladies live at such a level that the social pressure of dolling up does not include them.  They come in tattered dresses, old, sometimes broken flip-flops and are always underweight.  Typically their babies are small, their health poor and they are anemic.

Mari is one of these ladies.  We have a few very poor gals in our program that bring their friends.  They advocate for them and get them into the program.  A sweet, long term lady named Amocil brought us Mari.  Mari has no education, has had 3 babies die and lives on the edge.  A few weeks ago she showed up with a rag around her chin revealing that she had mumps.  We treated her separately and sent her home.

She came in labor the other morning.  This is the first pregnancy where she has gotten care and would be the first birth with any kind of skilled attendant.  Getting through superstition and misinformation to the facts is difficult.  Her blood pressure was getting dangerously high; the baby was small.  We opted to transfer her to a nearby hospital that could treat a preemie better than we could.  This was very new territory for her and she was nervous.

The next day we went to pick her up at the hospital.  As is often the case in Haiti she was delayed in getting discharged.  Since we were busy we almost left her behind with money and our nurse to bring her home.  Just as we were getting ready to pull away they came out of the gate.  A tiny God appointment.  We needed to see her house.

I have lived in Haiti a long time.  I’ve been in Cite Soleil many times visiting folks in their one room shacks.  You never get used to this.  Mari lives far off the main road.  Her house was a tent like structure with a tin roof and mud floor.  I mean mud.  With so much rain this was sinking your feet in kind of mud.  A musty, smelly bed and pillow were in the one dark, hot room.  On the wall hung one thing.  A picture of Mari in a frame, that a group of visiting photographers who came to our program, had given her.

I turned my face away to hide that tears were welling up.  Wini, Jonna and I gave postpartum instructions in a numb sort of way.  We stole glances at each other wondering if we were thinking the same thoughts.  We were I’m sure.  Haiti is full of Mari’s, living in circumstances just like hers.  The solutions are not simple.

We unglued our feet from the mud and headed home a bit sober.  Mari came in for her postpartum check up.  I now knew what a feat that was for her living so far off the beaten track.  She has so little and makes such a huge effort to come.

Our information would be life giving to a person like Mari.  It’s no wonder she is anemic, her baby small, her dress tattered, her body not bathed.  It’s no wonder she would look at me with apathy when I would scold her for not putting on enough weight.  I’m sure she expected that this baby might die like three others.

Hope lives in the form of our program.  Information that is life changing, vitamins, help.  Breastfeeding alone can save this baby’s life.  I could see that she valued the program by the lone framed photo on her wall.  Most likely the only photo she has ever had.  As we care about her, she cares about her baby, both lives will improve.

Pray for Mari and the others like her in our program.  They fight so much just to show up each week.  Their options are few but God has brought her into our program and into our lives.  And He always has a plan.  He sees the weak and undefended and has a plan.  He brings life and life more abundantly.

Beth McHoul