Here’s a bit of a different post for this last day of January!
Around this time last year, a thing long tucked away into the depths of my heart bubbled to the surface – the desire to serve moms and babies in one of the places in our world where moms and babies are in desperate need. The desire was conceived even before I began my apprenticeship, but, as I spent most of my early career as both a midwife and the widowed mother of teenage children, all I really could do was whisper a prayer for those suffering families, and get back to my own work.
Then my children grew up, I married Steven, and I moved to Colorado. And, within my new and quieter life, the realization that I’d come to possess the time and the resources to at last pursue that desire dawned upon me.
I mentioned it in prayers and I met Jill Roper.
Jill Roper is a midwife from Michigan who, since 2013, has taken her calling in hand and flown four times to serve overlooked women and children in a place called MamaBaby Haiti.
I told Jill I’d wanted to do just such a thing for a long, long time.
Jill said, “Well, then do it!”
And so I that’s what I plan to do from March 10th through the 31st.
I’ve asked Jill to tell us a bit about MamaBaby. Join me as she does so.
I’m sitting at the communal table in the quiet of the night. Instead of crying babies, I hear the crickets and the tick-tick of the clock. It’s rare lately to just sit and reflect.
I’m reminded once again of the little girl and the starfish.
This little girl had a heart as big as the ocean she stood in front of. Lying on the beach were thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore. A man watched the little girl from a distance as she picked up one starfish after another and threw them back into the ocean. He walked up to her and asked why in the world she would waste her time with the thousands of starfish littering the beach? Didn’t she know her task was hopeless?
The little girl looked up at the man, then down at the starfish in her hand and said, “But to this one, I’m making all the difference in the world.”
That’s how it feels to serve at MamaBaby. The needs can seem overwhelming at times. There are mamas who’ve lost their husbands and are laboring alone. There are young women who have no place to go after their babies are born. There are mamas who have no clue when they will get to eat again.
But when you see the terrified look in a laboring woman’s eyes, when you hold her hand and stroke her hair, when you speak words of comfort and let her know she’s not alone, you’re making a difference. When you fight for a baby’s life and win, you’re making a difference. One little starfish at a time.
Will you be like that little girl on the beach? Do you see the difference serving can make for that one lone mom, for that one small baby?
MamaBaby needs your help. The beach is just littered with starfish waiting to be thrown back into the water. If you can’t come and serve, can you help someone else come serve? Can you donate money to help feed the midwives? Can you send much needed supplies? There are so many opportunities to serve. Be the little girl on the beach. To one tiny starfish, make all the difference in the world. Your heart will be full.
MamaBaby Haiti is a non-profit birth center and health clinic located in Northern Haiti. They provide a safe place for Haitian women to receive compassionate and respectful FREE prenatal, birth, postpartum, and gynecological care at the hands of skilled Haitian midwives.
Haiti has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. It’s MamaBaby Haiti’s belief that no woman or child should die because of where they live.
Why free healthcare? 59% of Haitians live on less than $2.44 a day. Where there is severe poverty, mothers sometimes have to choose between food for their family or having a skilled attendant at their birth. One in 263 women who have a live birth die in childbirth or the immediate postpartum period, and One out of fourteen Haitian children die before the age of five. 98% of these deaths are preventable.
In 2016, MamaBaby Haiti’s Haitian midwives attended 6,766 prenatal appointments, 587 births, 1006 postpartum visits, and 108 family planning appointments.
MamaBaby Haiti saves lives every single day.
How You May Help
If you’d like to be part of what MamaBaby Haiti is doing for this immeasurably vulnerable population, you may purchase an item from the list below for me to take with me. Links to the exact products the clinic hopes to receive are provided for some items.
Please order items by Wednesday, February 22nd so that I’ll receive them in time for my departure.
Items should be mailed to:
2112 Riverwalk Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80951
Good quality sutures: 2.0, 3.0, 4.0
One small package of newborn-size disposable diapers
3 or 4 used baby blankets in good shape
2 boxes of alcohol pads
2 large containers of Clorox wipes (these are critical for the labor and postpartum room)
2 bottles of liquid hand soap, 2 bottles of hand sanitizer, 3 bars of soap
One set of twin sized good quality WHITE sheets for the clinic beds
One package of pens
Garbage bags (30 gallon size)
3 or 4 used bath towels
Thanks in advance for your generosity!
Thank you so much for the gift of your time!
If you enjoyed this article, let’s stay connected! And if you’d like to see my memoir of similar stories published and in your hands, then subscribe to my blog, and join in the conversation by commenting below!
And be sure to poke around here a bit, as there are lots more stories awaiting you.
Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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