The Internet is a place where the main objective sometimes seems to be disagreement. It would be silly for me to pretend I'm not part of the problem. I get a bit feisty red-head ticky and sometimes defend friends and enter into the fray when I should probably just go for a walk and do some square breathing.
I enjoy writing but I don't want to get into giant debates. This makes it tricky to write anything except silly stuff.
For example: If I write about the problems with sexual abuse in orphanages, someone will take issue because their orphanage is great and needed and why am I always hard on orphanages. If I write about Haitian babies dying in childbirth someone will write to tell me it happens in the USA too and not to focus only on Haiti. If I write about short term missions someone will tell me that short-term missions led to their long term service and I am forgetting that.
All of that to say, of course every thing has nuance and there are rarely situations in life where it can be said "100% always wrong" or "always ALWAYS right".
Real life makes absolutes pretty hard to come by, am I right?
Today I decided to put all the sticky topics of my life in one place ... Just to get it all out there and have a post to refer back to when these questions/criticisms come up in the future.
Agree or disagree, this is how we landed where we are on several frequently discussed topics. We have changed our minds over the years and reserve the right to be wrong and change our mind again in the future if needed.
Here we go!
RE: Social media and photos posted on the Internet-
Every so often someone will feel concerned that I am (we are) breaking privacy by sharing photos of new moms and babies before or after birth. This is a great concern to raise.
It is always our goal to respect and honor women. All of the women that pass through the Maternity Center sign a waiver/contract that states that they understand it is possible their photos might be used for fundraising and marketing purposes. If someone doesn't want to be photographed, we respect that. We are constantly reevaluating how we share on social media and want to get it right.
The reason we use photos is because transparency and donors demand photos. Who wants to send money to something they cannot be sure is actually happening? If I told you we had a clinic delivering babies in a developing world country - would you please support us, but I never showed you the clinic or the babies and mommas, would you blindly send a financial gift?
Honestly, if you bristle or judge the use of photos for promotional purposes - you cannot possibly judge as much as we do ourselves. It is uncomfortable. We don't love talking about the programs non stop, but that is how things get funded. I don't know many people that deeply enjoy the part of non-profit or humanitarian or mission work where it is required we ask for help.
The truth is, we need your help. None of this happens without you.
Asking the women we work with to acknowledge that we might use photos does create a power imbalance. How can someone who cannot pay for their care say no to my request for photos? That is an excellent point, it is not lost on me. This is not easy and it is not fair. I do want to assure you that if we share a story and photos about a woman, she knows and is able to decline if she wishes.
If we could provide the care for the women without ever talking about the work or sharing photos, trust me, we would. In today's social media driven world, if you have a solution for us to be funded without ever posting on social media, please call me this afternoon.
RE: Groups / Volunteers and Short Term Missions-
This is something I need to write about carefully. It is not my intention to cause anyone to feel defensive or ashamed. I tend to write in a style that is too straight-forward for some folks and I recognize that I have caused hurt feelings in the past. I am sorry if you've felt that. Please hear my heart.
For the ministry Troy and I are honored and humbled to lead: We don't need painters or hole diggers or short term volunteers.
We do need to attempt to give Haitians jobs to paint and work and do things that will provide an income. More than anything, Haitian men and women need opportunities to work and provide for their families.
There are some organizations that fund everything they do from fees that are imposed for short term groups that visit. Those organizations might allow you to paint or do hands on physical labor for them.
That is not our model at Heartline.
We want our focus to be on building relationships with our 60 plus employees and with the families/women that participate in the programs. It is difficult to have the time and bandwidth to build relationships with those folks if we are frequently hosting North American short-term visitors.
At this time, our model, our focus and our vision for the future is to only visit the programs/locations with short-term visitors for a brief time and to allow the amazing staff to do their jobs.
RE: Doulas and Midwives or Nurses volunteering or interning at the Maternity Center-
The Midwifery model of care is relationship first. To do relationship in Haiti it means speaking Creole (Kreyol). At this time, it means we only need long long term midwives (two years+) or Haitian midwives that are invested and able to learn language and culture. Just five years ago our staff was one full time local nurse. Today we employ six Haitian nurses and/or midwives. Our intention is to provide as many jobs as our budget and patient/client load demands and allows and to invest in local midwives. Unfortunately if we are training anyone that is not Haitian we are likely to be speaking English and therefore losing our focus on training and raising-up local midwives.
Our Manifesto at the Maternity Center, or our Theology of Care plays into this policy.
We love to show the Maternity Center. So many of you that read this helped to remodel and add on to it a few years ago. We want you to see it. The larger property where Heartline's bakery and trade school are located is also open for tours when scheduled. We do allow and welcome folks to see the two properties. At the Maternity Center we can arrange tours every day except Thursday. On Thursday we focus on 70 pregnant women and cannot easily stop to give tours. If you are visiting Haiti and want to stop in for a tour, please contact us via email and we will do our best to schedule it and make it happen.
RE: Sharing our Model-
It is common for other organizations working in Haiti to desire a chance to come see and observe what is happening at the Maternity Center. At times a long meeting is also desired to learn as much as possible about how it all works. Because these requests come frequently we decided to develop a manual and also a corresponding class.
The manual is about 100% finished at this point.
See www.thestartingplace.com for info on upcoming classes
Our hope and prayer is to share the Midwifery Model of Care (operating a Birth Center and Prenatal Care/Postpartum Care program) in a Developing World setting along with what we have learned and failed at and succeeded at in the last twelve years.
Please stay tuned. If you would like to be placed on a list for further information as the details are firmed up, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, please let us know if you have questions or concerns. I am so grateful for each of you that give and pray and follow along with the happenings at Heartline in Port au Prince. We can be reached via email or FaceBook at the Heartline Facebook Page.