Monday, February 06, 2012

new ladies, new opportunities to love

If you are one of the people invested in our programs through prayer, I wanted to let you know that we updated the "prayers for pregos" tab at the top of the blog. Twenty new women were added. A few more will be added later this week. I also added a section with names and faces of the year-round staff members.

Obviously each of the ladies has a very detailed history; the prayer post only shares a small fraction of the story. The point of that post is to get each woman covered in prayer by name as her baby is growing and developing and her day to deliver draws near.

In the prenatal program we usually have 35 pregnant women.  As one woman delivers a spot opens up to take in another woman.  Our wait list is sometimes larger than the program.  We're working to serve more women with quality, respectful, loving prenatal care. Until the funds are all in place and the larger building can be constructed, we are limited by our space.

Ladies are chosen from the wait-list based mainly on risk factors.  We try to take young first time moms and older moms as first priority.  Statistically we know that a 16-year-old first-time mother and a 40+ year old 6th+ time mother both enter into their deliveries at higher risk of complication.

The decisions regarding who will get in are difficult to make.  Beth McHoul and Agathe Augustin make those decisions together each Friday.  Turning someone away is a heavy reality that we won't ever be able to fully avoid, even once we expand. The need for quality maternal health care in Port au Prince and all of Haiti is a huge.

Obviously, we strive to give each woman that enters the program excellent prenatal care and a safe, beautiful delivery.

Those of us on staff at Heartline all agree that our single greatest ability to "help" these women is simply to love and care about them as people.

We won't necessarily change their day to day lives. We cannot meet the vast majority of their material needs. We don't have answers to much of what they face. There are not systems to protect them from abuse. We cannot create permanent safety for them.

All that said, we DO have the ability to listen. We DO have the ability to hear about their lives. We DO have the ability to choose to be uncomfortable as we simply open our hearts to listening and trying to understand what they face; even if we're not in a position to fix anything.

Saint Augustine asked,  "What does love look like?"  His answer included, "Love has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sights and sorrows of men."

He didn't say love solves every want. He didn't say love fixed the misery or sorrow.

He said love saw it.
He said love heard it.

Henri Nouwen said: "The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing ... not healing, not curing ... that is a friend who cares."

Love sits with hurting people.

We care deeply about prenatal care and each woman's pregnancy and delivery.

We care even more about love.

We want our program and staff to client ratio to always allow us to get to know each woman fairly well by the time she is ready to deliver.

We want each Thursday to be seen as an opportunity to invest time  in their lives, their stories, their pain and struggle.

The very best and the very hardest part of the program is making time to truly hear from them and build relationships.

As you look over those photos please add to your prayers that we will be able to get to know and love each woman in a way that reminds her of her intrinsic value and of her Heavenly Father's great love for her.