Our never-ending adoption process from Haiti had one benefit, and that is the fact that we developed some amazing relationships with people who are serving there. Haiti is a very difficult place to try to effect change, because the issues there are so overwhelming. However, in the midst of that, we have friends who have seen a need, and are working hard to meet a need in that corner of the world. That need is maternal health.
Maternal health isn't something I gave much thought to previously. Like many middle-class moms in the U.S., my biggest concern in birthing children was making sure they were healthy, but I wasn't worried about having a competent doctor or safe hospital experience. Those were a given.
As I learned more about what my friends were doing in Haiti, I learned that the dangers of giving birth in Haiti are great. 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. Women are left to labor alone, often in dirty rooms with no one attending until the baby is actually crowning.
My friends who run Heartline Haiti offer a very different experience for the Haitian 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.
In addition to a safe birthing experience, Heartline offers holistic care to try to prevent orphans, by empowering mothers with the help and skills they need to parent their own children. Their education center provides literacy and job skills that enable them to start businesses, earn an income, pursue their dreams, and provide for their families.
If you are a Heartline fan, or just like what they are doing, consider sharing this on facebook or twitter, too. Haiti is not at the forefront of our news anymore, but the people still need our help. Let's keeping talking.
To learn more, or to donate, visit Heartline Haiti online.