Day 5: We were scheduled to attend mobile clinic today and I was grateful as it as in Cabestor because that is the location of the new Midwives for Haiti clinic. The Land Cruiser was loaded up with 10 of us and all the supplies for the clinic. We drove for 2 hours over very rough roads. I called shot gun to they and help with my car sickness issues. I was able to sit next to Leona who is such a lovely young woman. She is here for a year as the in-country program coordinator. It was really nice to hear her story and her passion for international development.
We arrived in Cabestor and toured the new birth center facility. It will have a clinic and birth room downstairs and staff quarters upstairs. It is on the grounds of a church compound that includes a large church, the brother's house and a large school for the community children. The children were so curious and beautiful. It was clear they had visitors in their community infrequently. Many women were already sitting on some benches waiting to be seen. As we set up the mobile clinic women continued to arrive.
One of the most amazing parts of mobile clinic is the education the midwives provide to the women. They bring poster boards with pictures. They share with them danger signs for eclampsia. They teach them about nutrition. But most importantly they teach them that their lives matter. It is truly best described as witnessing feminism in rural Haiti. They explain to the women that they need to put a little money away each week any way they can. That way if they have an emergency during their labor or birth they will have money for a moto transport to the nearest hospital which in this case is over an hour away by vehicle. They warn them that if they need a transport and do not have money put aside to pay for it they may die. And if they die their husband will just find a new wife. It sounds harsh but it is their reality and to empower these women to value their own lives and not depend on others to value it for them is an amazing gift.
Once the teaching is done there are four stations; blood pressure and weight, social and medical history, fundal height and heart tones, lastly medications. Fatima, Kimberly and I began by taking all the blood pressures and weights. There were about 30 women and 5 postpartum women with their babies. Then we moved to the belly check station. The consistent issues and malnutrition and hypertension. They go together in Haiti. Many of the women had walked very long distances and I noticed none of them brought water. It was so hot and humid there are not words to describe the amount of sweat pouring down our bodies. When I asked them if they had enough food to eat in their homes not one of them replied yes. Most ate what they could grow or procure. Breakfast for most that day was a yam. There is just simply not enough food or resources. It is difficult to witness. All women got a month supply of prenatal vitamins and folic acid and most needed medication for their blood pressure. The babies surprisingly looked healthy and thriving. They are all breastfed. Period. And there is no such thing as a hooter hider. Women breastfeed openly everywhere you look in front of anyone and everyone. It is not a thing. It is a fact. It is beautiful.