Friday, November 5, 2010

Cholera in Haiti, MRSA in the US: It's Always Something

Thanks for asking about the next trip to Haiti, folks! In light of a tropical storm spinning by there right now, it's a topic near to my heart.

I had planned my next 2010 trip to be in November- just as soon as hurricane season was "kind of" over. I was to participate in the graduation of Class III, midwife students that I had met and taught both in December 09 and in March 2010. But some “other stuff” has come up; my youngest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in August. It’s always something, to quote the immortal Rosanne RosannaDanna. I made one trip out to see her in Pennsylvania right after her surgery, in September. Since then, however, things haven't gone as planned--- infection set in post-op, with MRSA ( the methcillin resistant strain of Staph), requiring more surgery, hospitalization, and delaying her start of chemotherapy. I don’t want to be out of the country again until she's doing a little better, but mostly, I had only the one week of vacation left for the year, already scheduled, so I'm spending it with family in the US. Sometimes the need is right in your own backyard.

The work of Midwives for Haiti is moving ahead really well, against all odds, it seems. Eleven student midwives started training last fall, and kept going right through one of the most terrible years Haiti has ever seen. First the earthquake filled their town with refugees and straining the endurance and resources of many. Then in October, cholera was identified as a cause of many deaths and hospitalizations, especially in the coastal west. Now a tropical storm is spinning toward the same island and many are praying for a merciful miracle to avoid the worst kind of damage.

M4H is gaining incredible support, however- the students kept going right through the times of crisis, attending class and clinic time at the hospital, gaining skills and knowledge week by week. This class has had 2 excellent full-time teachers, one Haitian nurse-midwife, and one American Certified Professional Midwife, both well-trained and experienced. Additionally, many, many American midwives and nurses traveled to Haiti each week and month to assist in special teaching projects, deliver babies with the students, work in our mobile clinics, and support our program any way they could. It is succeeding! They have done well by all reports, and will have a wonderful celebration on November 13th, with dinner and music! These students are SO Proud to be skilled birth attendants, and able to save the lives of women. They get it. And they get jobs, too...doing what we trained them to do.

The great news:
Cholera has not hit Hinche in any big way,from what we've heard. So far the storm Tomas has not hit as hard as many had feared. Let's keep praying.

And more good news:
In Summer,2010, Midwives for Haiti received funding to purchase a custom-made moblie clinic Jeep that can stand up to Haiti's back-country "roads". It is beautiful, and made a few trips around parts of Virginia for our friends and supporters to see it! Last December, and March, I helped work with and train our midwives in the mobile prenatal care clinics- I was sweating under tarps and in tiny shacks, stacking supplies on broken furniture!. We got a ride out there in whatever truck was available, with our equipment in dusty duffel bags and boxes. Now, we'll be able to do so much more- we can schedule as many clinics as we can afford staff, medicines and gas for: then we'll drive out in our lovely (bright pink!) Jeep, open our clinic under the built-in, pull-out sunshade, open our trunks, our well-stocked supplies and collapsible cots, and get down to work. Already a number of individual American parishes and small groups are volunteering to fund one village's monthly prenatal clinic, for a year at a time...they support the cost of the gas, medicines, vitamins, and the cost of the driver & Haitian midwives, to visit that village once a month. American nurse-midwives (like me) also go along on many clinics and work, sustaining this as a joint Haitian-American project. Take a look! AND- M4H is getting a HOME- a house that is leased for us, big enough to keep all our supplies and our Jeep and our visiting American volunteer staff safe, organized, secure, and operational. We have been housed so many times at Maison Fortune orphanage's guesthouse that most M4H'er's could barely imagine not being on the campus; so we leased the house right next door. We can have our "own place" and still hang out with the kids and the Brothers. I can't wait to go back and see my friends there.

I'll send out a loud shout when the next trip is really gearing up. As always, donors who wish to join my work can send a check, to the Loudoun Community Midwives office, or contact me there for details and special projects they wish to support.
And-- thanks for checking whether I was at risk for cholera or a hurricane. Not just yet, anyway. But you can pray for my sister!