Day 5 in Hinche:
Friday morning – Jessie and I have been hoping beyond hope that we’d be able to travel to the Carrie Wortham Birth Center in Cabestor at some point this week. Mariot Cleophat (pronounced “Mario”); the Birth Center Director drove from his home in PaP last night to pick us up. The Birth Center is about three hours away from the Hinche house. The last five miles are the most arduous and took us 45 very bumpy minutes to travel by SUV. I tried to imagine what it must be like to walk that road to the Center as an expectant woman.
Assistant Director of the Birth Center, Randal Mondesir, had driven down the mountain to drive us the last five miles in the MFH vehicle. We crossed 21 streams and a lot of people walking on the way. The Center is located in an area of great need in the rural mountains of the Central Plateau. The grand opening for the Center was November 22, 2015 and they have since delivered close to 100 babies! In August, nine babies were delivered safely and midwives conducted 174 prenatal and postnatal visits and examinations.
The Center sits back from the road next to a school and a Catholic church. There were not a lot of women at the Center today; it’s market day. Monday is one of the busier days. I was hoping to experience a birth. I guess I’ll have to come back! Mariot gave us a tour of the Center, which is a really lovely facility. Carrie Wortham’s picture hangs inside the delivery room. After being in Hinche for a week I noticed how quiet it is in Cabestor. After a lunch of rice, beans, avocado, okra and squash we headed back down the mountain with Randall. When women encounter complications during labor, they have to be transported by Randall or Mariot down that bumpy road and then the 20 minutes to the Mirebalais Hospital.
Jessie and I are sad to be leaving Hinche and the MFH staff in the morning. Our time here seems to have flown by. Tonight we all sat around the table. I made guacamole again. Mariot is with us again this evening, and will take us to Port au Prince tomorrow. He’s never tried guacamole, and I’m interested to see how he likes it (he didn’t particularly). Avocados grow so well here; as a result they are inexpensive, as are papayas, bananas, plantains, mangos and some other warm weather fruits and vegetables. We played a card game and hit the sack later than usual.
Final Morning in Hinche:
Saturday – Teresa, a midwife volunteer from Michigan, is scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. flight so we needed to leave for Port au Prince by 9:00 a.m. to account for any traffic issues. It was fun chatting with Mariot again in the car. It’s pretty amazing that someone born in such an impoverished country is fluent in three languages (English, French and Creole), and holds OSHA and environmental certifications. We arrived at the airport about 11:45 a.m. and at our hostel by 12:30 p.m. Mariot kindly insisted on being our guide for the day in PaP and came back to pick us up at 2:30.
We spent the afternoon touring the city, went to Papillon Enterprise, a socially and ecologically conscious organization whose profits create jobs for Haitian parents so they can support (and keep) their children. It’s tremendously gratifying to meet and support social entrepreneurs in a country like Haiti. After shopping for some souvenirs we sat upstairs in the café engaging in a little people watching and enjoying a beautiful view of the mountains and city. After driving up a little further and getting a great view of the Petionville neighborhood houses built into the side of the mountain both during the sunset and at night with the lights, we headed back to Heartline and said good bye to Mariot.
Jessie and I cannot thank all of the in-country and U.S. staff of Midwives For Haiti enough for their hospitality, the midwives for being so open to the CommCare app and using the tablets, and our fellow !mers for their support of and interest in our trip. We look forward to hearing more about the progress that is made with the CommCare app and the doors it opens both at the mobile clinics and perhaps at the Birth Center.
Thanks for your interest in our Haiti excursion to work with Midwives For Haiti!
Katy and Jessie