International Women’s Day

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.


“…women, brave as the stars at dawn.”

Edwidge Danticat

A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

March marks Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (#IWD2021). This year, the theme is #ChoosetoChallenge. International Women’s Day intends to:

  • celebrate women’s achievements
  • raise awareness about women’s equality
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities

As in the past, we’re recognizing a member of the Heartline Maternity Center who exemplifies this year’s theme and the vision of Heartline Ministries, which is healthy, thriving families.

Meet Elose

As a child growing up in Port de Paix, Haiti, Elose attended an English-speaking missionary school. In fourth grade, she decided to pursue a career in healthcare as she watched her mother struggle with persistent illness. Seizures plagued her mother, and as can often be the case in Haiti, the first suspicion was demon possession. The implications of such a label and the accompanying gossip were obviously very hard on Elose. She remembers wanting to do more and feeling so helpless. Eventually, doctors diagnosed her mother with epilepsy.

As a result of her time at the missionary school, Elose connected with missionaries who would eventually sponsor her education at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Kentucky (Go Knights!). Elose graduated in 2019 with a BA in Science in Nursing. While in Kentucky, Elose worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. As she continues to plan her next steps for graduate school, she returned to Haiti and now works alongside the women in her community as a nurse at the Heartline Maternity Center. Elose was familiar with the Heartline Maternity Center as she had worked with us from time to time during summer breaks from school.

Working at the Heartline Maternity Center

Elose has been at the MC for close to a year now and lends her talents to all kinds of tasks. She helps with administrative support, working with the women on program days, ultrasound administration, and translation. Elose’s ability to speak both Haitian Creole and English has proven time and time again to be an invaluable asset to the Heartline Team in many different capacities. 

Elose states that she enjoys being part of the Maternity Center family. She values the relationships with her co-workers and those she’s able to foster with clients in the maternity center programs. In her own words: 

“I believe getting to know your patients is very important in providing great care. There was a mom once as I was taking vitals for her who seemed really sad. When I asked her if everything was ok, tears started rolling down her face. She told me how she was having a hard time with 2 toddlers at home, and now she’s pregnant, and it has been a lot. Her 12-month-old wasn’t feeling well and did not want to eat, and her husband wanted to spank the child to get her to eat. I got the chance to talk to her and educate her on different things she could do. I get to see this patient every Thursday, talk to her, and ask about her children. She seems happier and always comes to me with questions. I really like that I have that opportunity at Heartline.”

Long-term, Elose dreams of one day opening more maternity centers in Haiti, where the staff will treat women with respect, love, and dignified care. She states, “So many people want access to good healthcare in Haiti, but we’re limited to how many we can take.”

A focus of International Women’s Day 2021is challenging systems and processes to drive change for gender equality worldwide. To assist women in being in a position of power to make informed decisions about their health. Elose shared how she connects her work at the Heartline Maternity Center to this focus area. She writes:

“From what I have seen in the healthcare system in Haiti, the nurses or doctors have all the power. Patients rarely ask questions, and even if they want to, some are scared. Working at the MC, we encourage patients to ask questions about why we do a certain test or give them certain medications. Before and during delivery, we encourage them to take control and work with their body. They do not have to be on their back if that’s uncomfortable. Because we promote patient autonomy, more of them want their family members to get into the program. We teach them how they should be treated and what their rights are.”

When it comes to care at the Heartline Maternity Center, Elose knows firsthand as part of the MC Team, but she also knows because of her own sister’s experience.

“My sister is a living testimony of what we do. She said her first birth was traumatized because patients were kicked out of the public hospital maternity ward when doctors and nurses went on strike. Her second was delivered at the Heartline MC, and everyone was so caring. She felt safe. She said the only way she will get pregnant again is if she knows for sure that she will be able to get back into the MC program and deliver there.”

Closing Thoughts

When asked what Heartline readers should know about the women of Haiti, Elose shared:

“Women in Haiti are resilient. They are family-oriented. They see each other as a community. My pain is your pain, and my joy is yours. Some will spend the day walking around with heavy tubs on their head with stuff to sell to provide for their family. Life is hard in Haiti, but as long as we are alive and breathing, we can keep going and hoping for better.”

Elose comes from a large family with 8 siblings. She has a brother who lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and her two amazing nieces, and the remainder live in Haiti.

About International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organization specific.

 

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