Health
 Haiti
Project #13817

Pay a Haitian midwife's salary for one year at MN

by Global Birthing Home Foundation
Another healthy newborn!
Another healthy newborn!

Early one morning, Maison de Naissance (MN) Director/Midwife Supervisor Kirsty was driving to work with several other members of the day shift at the maternity center.  She spotted a woman squatting by the side of the road, and, she said, an alarm went off in her head.  She pulled over to find a newly delivered baby lying in the dirt between the exhausted mother's legs, but the delivery was not complete yet.  The mother, Marie, had gone into labor earlier that morning, and decided to walk the four miles from her home to MN to deliver the baby there, but the baby had other ideas.

Kirsty and her coworkers immediately set to work, putting a clean cloth under the baby, washing it and the mother with bottled water, and helping with the final stages of delivery.  Kirsty clamped and cut the cord, then they carefully lifted the mom and her new daughter into the back of their Landcruiser for the trip to MN.  Once there, the mother and baby were both given examinations and pronounced healthy!  They were moved into the postpartum ward for some much needed rest, while the birth was recorded so the MN community health team could check up on them after they returned home.

Midwife attended births, at the core of MN's model of care, are the most effective tool in the fight against maternal and infant mortalities, a model recently endorsed by both the UN and the World Health Organization.  Our midwives have delivered over 4700 babies in an impoverished region of Haiti, the country with the highest rate of maternal mortality in the western hemisphere, without a single mortality.

Our success, through the dedicated efforts of our midwives, and the lives of their patients, like Marie and her daughter, are a direct result of the dedication of you, our donors.  Thank you for your support!

Dressed for success
Dressed for success

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Prenatal Checkup
Prenatal Checkup

The following accounts are based on interviews with 3 MN patients, conducted by MN's Director, Rosena Baptiste.  They are a testament to the dedication of our staff, and the efficacy of our model of maternal health care, which includes overcoming cultural barriers, and making everyone feel welcome.

Emmanuelle, 37, lived in Port-au-Prince when she had her first baby. During her second pregnancy in 2006, she heard about the care provided at MN, so she decided to leave Port-au-Prince to deliver at MN. A 3rd baby was delivered at MN in 2009, but now Emmanuelle is an MN family planning client because of “the efficiency of services, competent staff, hospitality and availability of medications”. According to Emmanuelle, MN was distinguished from all other institutions working in the maternal health field and must continue to provide good care to help all women of childbearing age in the municipality of Torbeck. Finally, she thanked the MN founders and benefactors for this great initiative they undertook in 2004.

Claudette, 36, who lives in Larnage, gave birth to her first daughter at MN in 2004, a few months after it opened. She chose MN not only because she lives nearby, but also because of better care compared to the other health centers she had visited. The warm welcome, the availability of medicines, the cleanliness of service delivery areas, and the competence of the staff all contribute to her satisfaction with MN.

Sully, 24, lives in the community of Lepètre. She received information about MN from a friend who is a patient there. Sully decided to go to MN for care during her first pregnancy, and delivered her baby there. She is now in her second pregnancy, and she says MN is an institution where the reception plays a special role in the care of pregnant women, and the health care is high quality. The staff is always available for service delivery any day of the week. According to Sully, if MN did not exist, there would be nowhere for her to go for quality care, with her limited financial resources.

Well Baby Checkup
Well Baby Checkup

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Mom
Mom's lined up to see a midwife at MN

Midwives at MN must have patience, perseverance, courage, a positive outlook, and most importantly, in addition to their medical skills, they must be able to convey a sense of security and calm to women usused to visiting centers for 'institutional' care, where they can feel overwhelmed and stressed.  

Imagine growing up in a remote village without electricity, running water, or sometimes even a road!  Your home is built of sticks and thatch, with a dirt floor.  The nearest professional medical care can be many miles away, by motobike if you are lucky, but usually by horse, donkey, or on foot.  Now imagine that you are ready to deliver a baby, and have never been outside of your immediate community - never seen or visited a hospital, doctor, or even a nurse, but you know that it is important to have an attended delivery for the safety of your baby.  You feel intimidated by all of the people and equipment, which is mysterios and a bit frightening.  You are poor, and feel out of place in this modern environment.  It is a critical part of every midwife's job to make all mothers feel welcome and comfortable, to feel cared for.

Now imagine that a hurricane is passing, or had passed recently.  Babies come when they are ready and cannot be rescheduled.  The power is out, some staff have been unable to travel to work, and shift replacements are stranded by flooding.  None of these things matter to the baby to be delivered, and it is the midwife's job to ensure that the care each mother receives is unaffected by circumstances as well.  Babies at MN have been delivered by candlelight, by flashlight, and by shining the ambulance headlights into the building.  During a multiple birth night without power, a baby was resusitated by cell phone light while another was being delivered.

Storms, earthquakes, floods, lightning strikes, and even political protests - it's all in a days work for MN midwives.

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The
The 'emergency' baby and midwife

A little excitement occurred at MN on March 2nd, 2015, when a local mother who had received prenatal care at MN was driving into Les Cayes (while in labor) to deliver her baby at the general hospital. Her route took her close to MN, and shortly after passing the turnoff, she realized she would not make it the hospital in time.  She diverted back to MN, and arrived just in time. The baby was ready to be born as she pulled in, but our experienced staff quickly moved her into the delivery room, and got to work.  All went well and another healthy baby was delivered to a healthy mom at MN! 

If MN was not located where it is, out in the rural, impoverished area where high quality, professional is not otherwise accessible, the outcome may have been much different.  The baby would have been born on the side of the road with nobody in attendance, and with a greatly reduced chance of a healthy outcome for both mother and baby.

We are proud of our highly skilled staff, and the work that they do for their patients every day!

A last minute arrival!
A last minute arrival!

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Demonstrating well baby care
Demonstrating well baby care

Marie's Story

Dantan is a remote village in southern Haiti where Marie grew up, one of 12 children. Her mother was a homemaker, her father a minister. Against all odds, while living and raising a large family in the poorest country in our hemisphere, her parents instilled the importance of family, faith and education. All but the youngest child has completed secondary school or beyond. Marie traveled to Port-au-Prince, a city of 3 million, because it held more opportunity for education and jobs. She attended a vocational school for a secretarial certificate, got a job and continued her schooling to become an auxilliare (nurse’s assistant) to further her professional development and make a higher salary.

One day, her male boss offered her more money if she would be “one of his women”. Marie knew that many of the other female workers agreed to this proposition in order to get more money to feed their families, pay the bills, and survive. She refused. Because of her refusal, she was mistreated, ridiculed, given less money and denied raises. She stood firm, prayed every day she would find a job where she was respected and valued as a woman. She finally graduated as an auxilliare, and set out to find a new job.

While visiting her family in Dantan, she heard about a birthing clinic called Maison de Naissance opening up not far from her parents’ home. Marie applied and requested an interview. During her interview, she demonstrated the qualities MN was looking for: compassionate care for others, technical skills, and a local community member. Marie was hired and helped open MN on October 4, 2004. 

This is where Marie entered my life. From its inception, I have been involved in the work of MN since it founding - first volunteering as a nurse and mentor to our Haitian staff, then as the Program Director full time.

Over  my 5 years with MN, I had the privilege of observing Marie help mothers and babies make a safe journey from pregnancy to birth and beyond (Haiti has one of the highest pregnancy related mortality rates in the world). She had her first child at MN and carries her own “safe journey” with her in all her work.

In 2012 Marie enrolled in an auxiliary midwife course with Midwives for Haiti, an intensive one year program that required living away from her family.  She graduated with honor from the program, and is now part of the midwifery staff at MN, having faithfully served for 10 years.

She treats every mother and baby as loved and valuable in a culture that historically has oppressed women in every way; physically, emotionally, economically and socially. She believes it is her responsibility to take care of the women in her community. She is bringing women hope. Marie is a role model for the women she cares for; one of their own is a living example that through perseverance, hard work, valuing oneself and striving to reach one’s innate potential, a better life is possible. If one of their own can do it, so can they.

The most unlikely people usually do the most extraordinary work in the world, Marie is one. That is what MN is all about, empowering women, one mother at a time.

Cindy Obenhaus, RN, MN Program Director 2004-2010

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Organization Information

Global Birthing Home Foundation

Location: Leawood, KS - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.globalbirthinghomefoundation.org
Project Leader:
Jim Grant
Executive Director
Leawood, KS United States