Wednesday, September 19, 2012

face of grief

There is a story to share today.

It is not a story of economics, although it is.

It is not a story of injustice, although it is.

It is not a story of hope, although it is.

It is not a story that changes the world, although it does.

Statistically speaking, mothers that have given birth multiple times are at a greater risk of death with each subsequent delivery. Specifically, the term 'grand multiparas' - mothers who have given birth more than five times, are at a higher risk of postpartum hemorrhage and other complications. The most at risk groups are grand multiparas and very young first time mothers. 

  • 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
  • Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.
  • Women in developing countries have on average many more pregnancies than women in developed countries, and their lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy is higher. A woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15-year-old woman will eventually die from a maternal cause – is 1 in 3800 in developed countries, versus 1 in 150 in developing countries. {Currently the lifetime risk for Haitian women is 1 in 93.}
Statistics are shocking and easy to share. 
Stories are startling; they are shared with care.  

Stories are about people and people deserve respect. Telling stories is never about inviting pity or exploitation. Telling the stories is always about opening the eyes of the world to the realties around us.  Telling stories is about stirring hearts and inviting those with the means and the ability to join together in action to help respond to the need. Telling stories is about honoring the strength, courage, and resiliency of the people of Haiti.  More than anything, we wish their battle were not so agonizing. We wish they had no need for such tenacity. We wish there were far fewer stories to tell. 

It is not a story of economics, although it is.
It is not a story of injustice, although it is.
It is not a story of hope, although it is.
It is not a story that changes the world, although it does.

One life lost too young always has an enormous effect on those left behind. In this instance the loss cannot be quantified. Today we learned of one life lost at the age of 36. In one fell swoop seven children became orphaned as one mother passed away.

Yveline entered Heartline's program when she was three months pregnant. She delivered a healthy baby girl at the maternity center in late January. Yveline and her daughter graduated from the Early Childhood Development program about eight weeks ago. Once the ladies graduate they typically only stop in on occasion to say hello.

When Yveline walked into the house holding a tiny baby and her 7 month old daughter today, we instantly wondered why. Over the next several minutes Yveline tearfully explained why.

Yveline with her 10 day old niece

Last week Yveline's thirty-six year old sister gave birth at home, in Petionville, to her seventh child.  According to Yveline, everything seemed okay and her sister, Yvrose, asked for food not too long after delivering her daughter.  The only family member with her at the time left to go buy food for her. When the family member returned Yvrose was dead.  It cannot be known exactly what happened, the assumption is that Yvrose bled to death.

Yveline is still nursing her 8 month old daughter and has begun nursing her niece as well. Quite resolutely Yveline told us she has plans of taking at least a few of her sister's children in and will raise them. This is the Haitian way. Families help one another. Other family members absorb children when someone gets ill or passes away. We don't suppose that we can even begin to imagine the weight of this responsibility for Yveline and her husband. In the coming weeks as Yveline's needs become known, we'll better understand how to help. Please remember this family in your thoughts and prayers.

The Heartline prenatal program exists for a number of reasons; among those reasons is a desire to reduce the number of orphans in Haiti. The program seeks to achieve that by reducing the maternal mortality rate in Haiti and also by encouraging mothers that they can raise their own children and that material poverty doesn't need to mean placing a child in an orphanage.  

Heartline Ministries has hopes and dreams of expanding the prenatal program, thereby multiplying the number of women that can enter the program, receive prenatal care, and deliver their babies in a safer environment. Most maternal deaths are avoidable, the solutions to the common complications are well known and something as simple as a trained midwife can most often safe a life.

It is not a story of economics, although it is.

It is not a story of injustice, although it is.

It is not a story of hope, although it is.

It is not a story that changes the world, although it does.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Stay tuned for information about the "Run for Life' taking place in a few months. This major undertaking will raise funds and awareness of the great need for high quality maternal healthcare in Haiti. Proceeds will be used to build a new Heartline maternity center with the goal of serving many more women at a time. 
(Click the words Run for Life to donate specifically to the campaign to build the Maternity Center.) 

Heartline Ministries is a registered 501(c)(3) in the state of Washington. 
To donate by mail:  Heartline Ministries P.O. Box 898 ~ Sunnyside WA 98944

"Investing in women and girls health is smart economics. According to the United Nations Population Fund women contribute to a majority of small businesses in the developing world and their unpaid work on the farm and at home account for one-third of the world’s GDP. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates that maternal and newborn deaths cost the world $15 billion in lost productivity."

"Women are not dying because of diseases we cannot treat .... They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving."  
-Mahmoud Fathalla

Additional Source: -WHO Fact Sheet