If it takes a village to raise a child, then the Lactation Education short term mission team is determined to make the most of their time here in Haiti. They have proven their ability to listen before speaking; they have freely given and received advice from the many women, midwives, nurses, and missionaries they have met along the way. Keep reading to catch a glimpse of the dialogue these ladies have shared

To read the group’s previous blog, click here

 

“Moms who may have post partum depression keep their struggles to themselves because they believe they are possessed by malicious spirits. (satanic oppression)” states an American missionary in Pignon.

What is our goal here? What is our intent? These questions have been etched into our minds all weekend. Our trip is to learn and to educate. The final goal, is to train the mothers in Haiti. Train them that breastfeeding is the best option. We want to show them how and why this journey with their child is vital to both mom and baby. But that end goal has to begin with conversations.

This weekend we met with an American missionary who runs an orphanage  and malnutrition clinic and strives to save the lives of severely malnourished babies and children. Part of her program also encourages mothers to continue breastfeeding, or providing milk for families in the community that are destitute.

One mom was told by her doctor she couldn’t breastfeed because her pee was yellow.  Anytime a woman is sick, she is told to quit nursing because evil spirits pass from baby to mom, which also prevents wet nurses from taking over. The doctors here encourage moms to quit nursing so they can sell them formula.

After our time with Jennifer, we returned to campus to meet with a couple midwives. God had different plans. Liz invited 1 midwife, asking her to bring a friend or two. This particular midwife invited no one and showed up late. The day before however, one of MH4H’s drivers went out on his own, knowing a few midwives who might be interested.  The word spread. By the time we arrived back at campus we had 12 waiting for us. Some had waited nearly two hours, arriving early to ensure they didn’t miss it.

We sat down with them, and introductions were made. We then explained we were here to learn from them. We explained our goal of educating moms about lactation, but needed their help. With the assistance of a translator, we began with asking how quickly after birth are babies put to the breast.

This meeting lasted nearly 3 hours. They were excited, animated, and very helpful. Some were trained through their families, others went to the hospital for training. We were encouraged by their knowledge, passion, and willingness to help.
The two most impactful things: Every one of them asked to come to our conference, they are eager to learn to become better. These are the people we need to teach and train, because when we leave, Haitians listen to Haitians. They listen to their moms, dads, witchdoctors, family doctors, and the midwives among them, not to white people. To reach our goal of transforming these moms into eager and confident breastfeeding moms, we need to reach the professionals.  TWELVE arrived at our gate.

And the Second: Before farewells were made, they sang to us a lullaby they sing to the moms in their final stages of birth to encourage them on. Stunning doesn’t even begin to capture this moment.

Saturday we went to the market to purchase items for the gift baskets we were handing out to new moms, in the morning. We drove to Hinche (about an hour drive from Pignon where our campus is) in the afternoon.  Here we were privileged to meet another ministry who formally trains midwives. We were able to tour their facilities and they were able to loan us some posters and books for our conference. The biggest excitement is a connection to a place that is properly training midwifery. They are friendly, helpful, have trained medical translators, and have a willingness to continue communications.

Church here is breathtaking. The building is just a a tent made with sticks, bedsheets, and leaves. The people, the music, and spirit of this church is rich and full. Tears repeatedly fell during worship, and I didn’t understand a lick of their language. This made no difference. We are all created to worship our King, and worship we did.

We had asked Liz and Christi to do something a little different with food deliveries this trip.  We asked to specifically choose families with young babies who have a great need.  Through walking the neighborhoods, knowing the community and asking a pastor, 7 families were selected.  Sunday we walked among them.

Their gift was food (rice, beans, spaghetti, bouillon cubes, and oil) along with a little extra gift in a basket with a baby blanket, a baby hat, socks, a onesie, chocolates, powdered milk (for other children in the home), and a solar blowup light for their house.

One woman couldn’t raise her own child because she had a stroke prior to the baby being born.  We met her baby girl who was 2 months old yet so tiny you’d mistake her for a newborn.  She is being raised by her Godmother just up the street.

All the moms and families we saw were desperate and in need. This brief invitation into their home, was a blessing and an honor for us as we prayed over them.

We finished the weekend with preparations and filling gift bags for the lactation education conference we are hosting for the moms in our First Thousand Days program.

  • Pray for the moms and midwives who will be an attendance Monday at the conference.  Pray for their eagerness to learn, comprehension of the lesson, and more than anything for God to make clear what He what He is trying to teach despite our weaknesses.
  • Pray for health of the team and for the mothers.
  • Pray doors continue to open for this area of First Thousand Days and for direction in the plans God has for it.

 

Team Members on this trip:

Andrea Mathes is from Iowa and works for Many Hands for Haiti as their admin and marketing assistant.  She has been responsible for team devotions, trip planning with the Liz and Christi, and group participation in the conferences and meetings.

Sheryl Visser (right side) is from Iowa and is a nurse and a lactation consultant. She has been responsible for planning the meat of the conference.  Part of this has been asking those we have interviewed detailed questions to learn about the culture and practices in Haiti, and then reconstructing her lesson to fit the needs here in Haiti.

Diane VandeKamp (left side) is from South Dakota and is a nurse.  She has been responsible for preparations for the conference, presenting lessons during the conference with Sheryl, gift distributions, and taking notes for future planning during our meetings.

Rhonda Kats is from South Dakota and is a full time stay at home mom of 3 boys.  She is responsible for spiritual leadership in the conferences, gift distributions, and note taking.
Jeff Thomas (left side) is from Iowa and is the Many Hands Thrift Market Manager. He joined our team to get the full experience of what Many Hands for Haiti does.  He has been busy with home visits and PET distributions.

Bob Vaughn (right side) joins us from Iowa and is a retired pharmacist.  He has a passion for Haiti and helping those who are in need of a safe home.  He is here to do home visits and help with the safe homes project

Family and Friends: We are busy but fully blessed in this trip. We miss you dearly and love you. Below you will find photos of our ventures down here in Haiti.
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