Written by: Tara Livesay, Director – Heartline Maternity Center, Certified Professional Midwife
It is also often said, mainly by women we work with at the Maternity Center, “Haiti has no justice.” As you read that you might think, well – that’s hyperbole – certainly there is SOME justice.
There cannot be zero justice, right?!
We first came to Haiti in early 2002. After all of these years of meeting and working with average Haitians and hearing their experiences and stories, I am here to tell you that it is no exaggeration.
The average Haitian citizen does not always have the means to eat three square meals a day and purchase a sufficient amount of potable water and keep their kids in school. For them there is definitely no expendable income to grease the seized-up wheels of justice.
On November 5th, a little girl named Love was born with significant malformations at the Heartline Maternity Center. Due to a connection with a long-time volunteer at a local hospital, we were able to go directly to a hospital that would see the baby.
Typically, Haitian mothers will visit several (if not dozens) of clinics and hospitals before there is one that takes on the responsibility of diagnosis and care.
Our experience of being seen the day we walked into that hospital is atypical. Justice in that way came due to connections, which we are INCREDIBLY grateful for and also no more deserving of than any other person.
The hospital sent baby Love for several tests and we are waiting on the results. We returned to the hospital for a follow-up appointment with Love on November 19th. Unfortunately, due to political unrest in the country, the medical professionals she needed to see were unable to come to work. Please continue to pray for baby Love, her mama – Lovely, and papa – Ti Chris.
Mercifully, baby Love has been peeing, pooping, and eating without trouble or these first days would have been entirely different. Love’s mother keeps long socks on her to keep her neighbors from seeing her malformed legs and feet. (She is protecting her daughter due to the prevalence of superstitious beliefs in Haiti about the cause of abnormalities and disabilities).
On the evening of November 16, a baby boy named Wisler was born at the Maternity Center. Wisler has significant birth defects and we knew the moment he was born that he was in need of more help than we can offer. Eleven minutes after birth, Wisler and his mama, Rezelane, were in our ambulance heading toward the closest hospital.
At the closest hospital two female medical professionals began asking good questions, at that point Wisler was 30 minutes old. A male doctor walked up and barked, “Can’t you see how many malformations and abnormalities this baby has? You need to go to _____ right now!” (He named another hospital.)
I assured him I did see but that we had always been told they were an excellent pediatric hospital. He dismissed us with a flippant wave and told us to get going.
We arrived at the second hospital before baby Wisler was an hour old. The first medical employee to greet us was annoyed we did not have a NICU at our Maternity Center or a referral letter and she did not especially enjoy the fact that the first hospital had sent us on to her. I explained that breathing for the baby and driving to the hospital seemed like a better use of time and resources than sitting down to write a referral letter.
Wisler was admitted, for which we are grateful. The reason he was admitted was because we assured the hospital staff that we can pay for his care. The average Haitian could not afford the small amount (only $57 USD) we spent that night to get things started. The average Haitian would not have arrived at the hospital in an hour. Public transport takes about two and a half times as long as private.
Later that night, we returned to the Maternity Center at 9pm with Wisler’s mom. In just three hours her entire world turned upside down – technically, she is one of the “lucky” ones, she had the connections needed to help grease the wheels.
Wisler has remained in the hospital and we don’t have any answers about his condition yet. He is stable so long as he is on oxygen.
Both of these babies, born with severe medical challenges, are experiencing the trickle down effect of political upheaval. Blocked roads and protests stop medical staff from arriving to work as scheduled, tests can’t be completed, appointments can’t be kept, and therefore no forward progress is made.
It occurs to me regularly that those of you that read these updates, pray specifically for situations we share, and financially support the work of Heartline Ministries are the reason we keep hoping. Your sacrificial love and concern is hopeful and it trickles down.
You might imagine we don’t read messages or see your donations in the busyness of day to day work in Haiti.
I want you to know today that we do see you.
What keeps you stubborn in hopefulness? We invite you to tell us more about the experiences, relationships, and words of truth that keep your hope alive – even on the darkest days – in the comments below.