Monday, April 20, 2009

Haiti Hangover...or Afterglow?

I've been back from Haiti just over a month, now. I think my dear husband hoped, briefly, that I had made the trip, and gotten it out of my system. Alas, this is not the case. Actually, I'm planning a sale of Hatiian crafts and a public talk at my Quaker Meeting that helped sponsor the trip. God Bless Greg Dotson; he is a man that takes my passions to heart and helps nurture them to fruition. Greg's helped me with Haiti-P.R. and blog ideas, and he didn't even roll his eyes or sigh when I mentioned going back to Hinche in December. This man is a mid-husband, which is the animal midwives are meant to marry, but often don't. We often marry normal men, who mind very much that we are absent at all hours of the night and day and are consumed with caring for families other than our own. Those normal ones don't like the true midwife answer to "When will you be back?"....which is: "I don't know...When the baby's out and no one else is laboring." But I married a midhusband, 28 years ago. Thank God.

When I was in Haiti, I did not sleep well, and about 3 am on one of the nights, I woke up crying about...?.. it seemed like a definite disturbing thing at time, but now I just remember the deep need, the lack of resources... and the fact that the people kept going. The perseverance. But often, now, l wake up in America, and think about Haiti and the M4H program. I'm not weeping about it but neither can I let it go. What was once a set of abstract facts about a foreign Caribbean country now has faces, names, and real people attached. Once Haiti was a place I was going to work for a non-profit. Now, Haiti is a place where I have friends that need a lot of help. And I'm going back.

The Catholic Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa's order) have an orphanage and feeding center, "Azil", in Hinche, and on Wednesday of our trip, we visited. Most kids there actually have families, but needed to be admitted and fed at the center to overcome malnutrition and regain health. The children get so excited when they see visitors arrive: not because we bring them things,( we do, but the things are quickly stored in a supply closet for later) , but they get excited because visitors hold them. I had children crowd around to sit on my lap, to be embraced. They did not ask for anything else. I could not even read to them, which I'd love to do, since I don't speak Creole. No, they just wanted to be touched and held. The intense human needs that I encountered in Haiti stay with me daily now...the need to eat enough; the need for clean water, need for health care and light to read with at night. The need for midwives to safely help women survive birth and live to raise their families. I have so much, in my comfortable life here, that I continually wonder what I can do to pass some of that to my Haitian friends.

I sent an email a few weeks after my return, to our interpreters Theard and Manno. I asked them to contact some craftsmen and women, and prepare items for purchase when the next group of midwives came from the US. So, when Sheila an Amy came to Hinche around Easter, "the guys" had located many soapstone statues, carved and painted wooden bowls, notecards, and embroidered clothes for us to buy in Hinche and sell in the US. The artists were so thankful to have big purchases! Then the items were wrapped and carried back to the US, through Port-au-Prince, to Miami, to Buffalo, and then to Leesburg in a car of one of Margie's relatives. The US part of the sale will be done when I speak about Midwives for Haiti at Goose Creek Friends Meeting on Mother's Day, May 10. Many of the items are beautiful. Some are strange or goofy. How to tell a person in Haiti, by email, what kind of shirt an American would buy? The collection of things is colorful and fun and lovely, and reminds me a lot of Hinche..The stuff is all over my dining room table....kind of like the piles of gauze and gloves and diapers right before I left. Fortunately, for all of us, we are a family that eats in the kitchen.

You are Cordially Invited to a Free Community Event & Charity Benefit

Wendy Dotson, CNM

will present

"Midwives for Haiti:
Saving the Lives of Mothers and Babies"

Sunday, May 10, 2009
Mother's Day
11:15 am

Goose Creek Friends Meetinghouse
18204 Lincoln Rd.
Purcellville, Va 20132

Public Talk & Slideshow
Haitian Handicrafts Sale
Scenic and Historic Grounds of Goose Creek Meeting open for picnicking