Two years ago I wrote about my experience with the midwives in Haut Limbe. I had just been here a couple of weeks when Rosemary, a midwife nurse from the states, came to lead a seminar for about 25 local midwives. A few weeks ago, she came again to lead a 2-day seminar and I was able to attend.
I got so much more out of it this time - of course we had an interpreter, but this time I could understand the kreyol of the midwives. They are such sweet, special people. I was able to laugh and joke with them. There is a great age range of midwives, most of them being older. Some I'm sure are in their eighties (or looked it). Many of them live in extreme poverty and provide their services for free to their neighbours as it has been tradition. While they are happy to provide the service, they would appreciate some compensation, at least to cover the cost of purchasing the supplies they need - soap, razors/scissors, string, gauze, gloves, etc.
The midwives have formed a little association. They meet together at least once a week to support and learn from each other. My friend Carmelle is acting as coordinator of the group. Carmelle is 30 years old with a 9 year old boy and 5 year old girl. She lives with her mom (who is also a midwife) as she broke up with her husband.
Carmelle is bright and motivated. She is a member of the local scouts and is often involved in community activities. After spending time with her, I was trying to think of a sustainable way to help the midwives. Often times, people from Canada and the US send supplies down for them, but there is nothing consistent. I was trying to think of a way that the midwives could find supplies on their own, with their own talents.
I was thinking about the many groups that will be visiting this coming year, and then I had an idea. What if the midwives could make something to sell to the visitors? Something that is not too costly to make and could sell for a reasonable $5 - 10 US. I imagined that a lot of them can sew and do embroidery, so I thought maybe they could make potholders like my mother-in-law made for me! It's something affordable and a nice gift idea. They can use the profits to have a kitty to buy birthing supplies as well as to buy additional fabric and thread.
With just a small investment from me, I sent Carmelle off to Cap today to buy the supplies and the ladies will start working on the potholders. So, if you are planning to come in the next year, be ready to buy some pot holders and support some Haitian midwives! I'm so excited - I hope it works!