(Prior to the birth (pun!) of the Maternity Center, the McHouls worked with children that had been placed for adoption in the children's home they began in 1989.)
The years have been spent evolving, growing slowly, changing, and becoming.
A learning curve like whoa.
What Founder Beth McHoul dreamed of so many years ago as she prayed for an end to the need for orphanages, has become a beautiful working and active thing. Beth is correct when she says, "Maternal Health Care is orphan prevention!"
We have learned some lessons the hard way, through failure and disappointment. We have learned other lessons the slow way, by waiting for the statistics and outcomes to speak to us about our model's efficacy.
Like anything worthwhile, it has taken time - and more time - and a bunch of patience and hard work.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the work we are doing is knowing that it needs to be multiplied over and over (and over) in order to vastly improve a dire situation for pregnant women in Haiti and worldwide.
The problem is, in order to "do more" and help a much higher volume of women, we would have to abandon the model. The pressure to do more means we need to continually ask ourselves, "What are we about?" When I pose that question to my co-midwives they say: relationship, education, love, support, bonding, respectful care, breastfeeding, beauty.
The model is this: High quality care, frequent prenatal visits, great value placed on relationship and building trust between midwife and client, time spent with women listening and interacting with the whole woman, not simply the belly hanging out in front of her.
Just as important to the success of the model: education is key. Every woman deserves to have information about her own body and her own health. If she was born into a materially poor country and has never been offered an education or information, it is our chance (and our honor) to change that for her. Knowledge is power.
That said, we know the reason the model works and the reason babies and moms are living and thriving and bonding and breastfeeding is because we have remained a medium-size program. We cannot be about high volume and big numbers of deliveries and also be about a high quality, high relationship and an education focused experience. It is simply impossible to be all the things at once.
We know there are hospital and clinic models out there doing the high volume, move them in, deliver a baby safely, move them out approach - and for that we are grateful. That, however, is not what we are called to do.
In our desire to see women in the developing world elevated and treated with the utmost dignity and respect during and after pregnancy, we have come to believe that we need to share and duplicate the model and pray that hundreds of people in the maternal health field will take the model and go plant it elsewhere with their own passion, skills, finances, and gifting in developing countries all over the world.
This is where Tabitha comes in. She comes to us from Together Rising, the organization that funded the addition of the second floor of the Maternity Center, giving us much needed post-partum space and a gorgeous new classroom.
Tabitha is moving into The House of Clowns (our house) in mid September to begin the project she has been assigned. She will be Heartline Maternity Center's first official project manager. Her project - to simplify it into just a few words - write out everything that is happening and make it an organized template to share.
Tabitha is a recent college grad that will soon be seeking her Master's degree. Tabitha grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. She was born the year before the multi-racial democratic elections led to the momentous election of Nelson Mandela. She is young and smart. (In Boston, they say Smaaaaht. I know because I work with a Bostonian.)
Tabitha has a desire to see her sisters around the world receive excellent care as they are loved, respected, honored and treated with dignity in the most sacred time of their lives.
She is coming to do this specific project for the Heartline Maternity Center and we are excited to say that with Tabitha's help, we hope to be able to share our model with those interested in duplicating it.
Please pray with us and for us in the coming months as this gets underway.