(By Beth McHoul - Also Posted HERE, at the McHoul's Blog)
Driving moms and their babies home is usually Tara’s job. She loves it. Since she is away for a couple of months, I’ve taken over a few of her jobs. Paperwork, yes, it is a mess. Try as I might, I’m not good at documents, files, due dates, lists, and proper paperwork. From across the electronic miles Tara and Beth C. are working to set it right, but I’m afraid I am hopeless.
I have though, become good at, and am enjoying, driving new families home. I’ve not had an accident with the ambulance, not gotten too lost and I have avoided police stops.
Part of the deal when moms deliver with us is they stay in our post postpartum until they feel ready to go and then we take them home. Home can be a USAID tent, with or without a roof, or a cement house that looks pretty okay. We have women at different economic levels in our program. I’ve noticed that regardless of their economic status our ladies are rich in community. As we wind down a dirt road barely big enough for the vehicle and come to a stop people come out of nowhere. Squeals of delight meet us. The mom and baby are welcomed, hugged, prayed with, hugged again and mom is swept off her feet as she is ushered into the house, be it a tiny cinder block house or a bigger house. Grandma grabs and inspects the baby and declares the child perfect. Siblings grab at the baby while they ooh and aah. There is delight all around. Recently (and I wasn’t on this run, I was back at the maternity center delivering another baby) the whole crowd erupted in worship.
I am seeing this over and over again. Post postpartum depression doesn’t have a chance in these neighborhoods. Women like each other, they support each other, and they watch each other’s kids. Family is extended and they raise each other’s children. Relationships are close. They fight, sure, but all families do.
We tend to get women from the same neighborhoods because they tell each other about the program and then advocate for their friend to get in. It’s all about relationship. Over and over I hear, “Madame John you must take her in, she is my friend.” It trumps everything else. I tell them we are full, her due dates aren’t dates we can do right now, she is too far along etc. It doesn’t matter because friendship is involved and that cancels out all the “no’s” I can muster. You can’t fight friendship.
Yesterday we drove a bunch of ladies home who live in the same neighborhood. The ambulance, the all-important somber ER on wheels, was transformed by a howling, laughing, joking group of silly women. We drove from house to house, had to get out, take photos, meet the family and the onlookers and then move on. Each lady was gracious and proud to have us. Poverty lost its power to joy and community. Love pulsated in the air. Our differences melted away.
Each house was in a group of other houses. Small, open windows, open doors, open life. Not much privacy but tons of community. I’m thinking these ladies are rich indeed.
Heartline Maternity Center
Port au Prince, Haiti
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