running for Haiti

I'm ready to share something really exciting, but also a little terrifying. I am training to run a half-marathon. Admitting this in public is a big step for me, for many reasons. Topping the list include my abyssmal lack of athleticism and crippling fear of failure. I could write an entire treatise here about how this decision came about, and how the mere idea is shaking this asthmatic, postpartum 35-year-old to the core.


This is not about me.

Well, not this post. I'll probably whine more about my own insecurity at a later date.

For now, I want to share why I've decided to do this. Our never-ending adoption process from Haiti has had one benefit, and that is the fact that we have developed some amazing relationships with people who are serving in there. Haiti is a very difficult place to try to effect chance, because the issues there are so overwhelming. One of the things that impressed me most with Heartline Haiti (who we are adopting from) is the clear and tangible ways they are serving people in Haiti. Run by John and Beth McHoul, who have been in Haiti over 20 years, their mission includes an orphanage, a sewing school, a child development program, and a prenatal program. Recently, the prenatal program was expanded to include a birthing center, run by midwives.

The dangers of giving birth in Haiti are great - you can read about it in this news story. Haitians suffer the highest maternal mortality ratio in the Western Hemisphere, by far. Millions of Haitian women either cannot access health care, or cannot afford it. Those who can't afford it are often left to go it alone. Even those who can afford it are often treated in conditions that are unimaginable here in the US.

These pictures depict one of the maternity wards in Port-Au-Prince. When I first read this article, I was expecting with Karis. I remember thinking about India's birth, and how I was surrounded by professionals in a clean, private room, and how it was still a scary and overwhelming experience. I can't imagine what these women must go through. And again . . . these are the women fortunate enough to have access to care.

Now, contrast this to the care that Heartline is giving the women in their program. Each week the Heartline prenatal program sees twenty pregnant women. Most of them have never received pre-natal care. When it comes time to deliver their babies the women can come to the birthing center to have their baby. As you can imagine, this is a huge blessing to these women, and there is a very long wait-list of women wanting to join.

(photos from Beth McHoul and Tara Livesay)

Heartline offers women in Haiti a safe, clean, peaceful and loving place to experience labor and delivery with trained midwives to assist the ladies throughout their labor and delivery. There is no cost to the women. The difficult reality is that because these pregnancies are high risk, often times women will need to be transported to a hospital in order to receive emergency-level care. The chief goal is to deliver a healthy baby to a healthy mom. When that becomes impossible Heartline will be transporting women to a local hospital, acting as advocates for them until they are checked in and being cared for by hospital staff.

Here is where the half-marathon comes in. There is a team of fifteen of us, who will be running in the DisneyWorld half/full marathon in January. Some of us are adoptive moms, others are missionaries in Haiti, and others are friends. We all share a common goal of supporting this birthing center. The money being raised will be used to purchase a make-shift ambulance. It will not be a traditional Western ambulance, but instead will be a sturdy utility vehicle that will be transformed into an ambulance and outfitted with necessary medical equipment.

I resonate very deeply with the need for women to feel supported and cared for during pregnancy. This is just an example of how Heartline is acheiving this, as told by Tara:
The women we serve are strong and resilient and have overcome many challenges.One such young woman is Malange.Malange came to us early in her pregnancy. Due to her history she was fast-tracked to the top of the wait list.At 16 Malange lost a baby to pre-eclampsia. During that pregnancy she received no prenatal care. She never fully understood exactly why her baby died. Sadly, it is not uncommon for medical situations to go completely unaddressed. Often times when a Doctor is involved the patient is not respected enough for the information to be passed along. Over and over again we've had women tell us that the Doctor did not tell her what he did or what was wrong.
Malange came to the Women's Center at 4am on October 13th. She was in labor and looking for help. She has been faithful to the program for months and was healthy enough to deliver her baby with the Heartline midwives in attendance.Malange labored most of the morning. During her labor she was in a clean, quiet room. She was checked on repeatedly. There was a doula there to speak in her native language and tell her what was going on with her labor. She was fed and cared for, loved and respected.
Malange delivered a healthy baby boy late morning. She spent the afternoon recovering and resting. She was offered encouragement and assistance with nursing her new baby boy. Around 5pm her family came to pick her and her son up and bring them home.
This week Tuesday Malange came with her son for a follow up appointment. The midwives checked Malange and her son and offered continued support and encouragement. Malange will now enter the Early Childhood Development program. Each Tuesday for a year she will be surrounded by women who love her and desire to see her succeed. She will be given tools and teaching that will help her be the best mom she can be.

In January I will be running for Malange and many more just like her. If this case is resonating with you, too, I would encourage you to sponsor me in this run. I will be running 13 miles, give or take, but a donation in any amount would be huge. A website for our run has been set up at:

Or you can donate by clicking here:

And if the story of Melange didn't tug at your heart, how about a little song and dance?


  1. Wow, I didn't know you were going to participate in this! Good for you! They are indeed doing wonderful work.

  2. Awesome! I LOVE HAITI AND I LOVE HEARTLINE!!! (By the way, my 4 year old saw your header and has declared that "that baby looks a little young to be buried" Thank you, oh decider of what age a person must be when they are allowed to be buried in sand. Good grief.)

  3. As a woman, that definitely touches my heart. Good luck to you! That's so awesome of you to do this!



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