Men Anpil Chay Pa Lou: Many Hands Make the Load Light

Heartline’s Executive Director, Troy Livesay, spent the last week in Haiti. Together, along with the Heartline Team, he was able to assist in the temporary relocation of the Heartline Maternity Center. He jotted down a few thoughts as he headed back to the States.  


For background on the events leading up to the temporary relocation of the Heartline Maternity Center – click on the links below. 

Troy (r) with Heartline’s Head of Security, Bredy (l). 

From Troy: 

Heading out of Haiti with a heavy but grateful heart. This trip was previously planned and scheduled but looked much different than originally planned. Shortly before heading down, the insecurity and violence in our neighborhood escalated immensely. The Heartline Maternity staff and clients were forced to evacuate the area as two rival gangs began fighting for control of the zone. The messages we were receiving last week were full of gunfire in the background like I’ve never heard before. The armed gangs were shooting at all hours of the night and day directly behind, beside, and in front of our properties. Stray bullets struck windows and walls, and we feared for the safety of all those we know and love in the area.

We are used to a great deal of insecurity due to political protests, popular uprisings, and general violence and kidnapping that have increased significantly in recent years. Since Haiti’s president was assassinated last year, gangs have grown in number, force, and power – currently controlling significant parts of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The area just down the  road from our Education and Employment Campus has been completely controlled by one of the largest gangs for quite some time. We have been concerned about the security of that campus and assumed at some point we have to close operations temporarily for the safety of the staff and students. Fortunately, that has not happened yet and the office, bakery, trade school, Petite Palm and Papillon Enterprise have been able to continue functioning normally for the most part.

Unfortunately, the large gang is attempting to expand their territory and marched large groups of armed men directly past our front gate and over to the streets surrounding the Maternity Center and Harbor House a few miles away. The smaller gang operating in that neighborhood have been fighting back and the streets have been a war zone. One message our head of security sent said “There are bodies in the street behind the clinic, and laying on rooftops that I can see from here.” A man living directly behind the clinic was brutally killed for being a suspected spy for the invading gang. The fighting was intense for over a week. Hundreds of families have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere. Others have decided to stay and hide and hopefully protect their properties from being taken by the gangs. Those that stay are sleeping on floors and avoiding walking room to room out of fear of stray bullets that have been hailing down.

It has been quieter now for the last few days. We hope and pray for lasting peace and a resolution but do not yet know if or when that will happen.

For years, we have joked that in Haiti you need more than a plan B. It is best to have a full range of backup plans from A-Z. It no longer feels like a joke. A few days into my trip I felt like we were approaching plan Z in trying to set up and move the Maternity Center operations to a new, safe, and temporary location. Thanks to some great friends in Haiti, connections were made and a location was found that would work for our clients and staff. The next few days were a scramble to move what we could out from the other location (having to sneak out with only small items at great risk), purchasing furniture and other supplies, and setting up a whole new clinic. We accomplished more in a week than would normally get done in a month, which seems like nothing short of a miracle – especially considering all of the other current insecurity and challenges.

The clinic was closed for all of last week, which is the first time it has ever closed since opening to serve women and babies over fourteen years ago. As stressful as that was, we’re amazed that the timing was such that no births were missed and no other serious complications occurred for any of the Maternity Center clients.

It took many days before all of the staff were accounted for. Some were stuck in their homes, unable to safely leave, and without electricity and cell phone availability. While we were getting set up in the new location, each arrival of another staff member was a joyous occasion for all.

We spent many years working through the transition to a fully Haitian staff managing and running Heartline’s programs. Time and time again they have proved themselves invaluable and able to lead operations, even during the most difficult times. The last two weeks have been no exception. Even through this latest crisis, all of Heartline’s programs have been able to continue to function thanks to their dedication and excellent work, in the midst of a great deal of trauma and hardship. It is truly a blessing and honor to know and work with the amazing Heartline staff.

We often remind ourselves that this sort of long-term development work is a marathon, not a sprint. And even though the events of the last two weeks forced us to sprint, we survive and thrive because we’ve been training for a marathon. Thank you for supporting this training and development work faithfully. We could not do it without you and I can confidently say it’s absolutely making a difference in Haiti.

A Haitian proverb says ‘Men anpil, chay pa lou.’ –  Many hands make the burden light. Our team called this to mind many times through these trials and it has certainly been true. Thanks for lending your hands to lighten the burden.

Matching Gift Opportunity! 

We’re excited to share that just this week, long-term Heartline donors and friends, East Wind Nannies, reached out with a matching gift challenge! Thanks to their generosity, every gift made to the Heartline Maternity Center up to $10,000 will be matched! 

Consider a life-changing gift by investing in the work of the Heartline Maternity and join us in the fight for accessible, quality maternal healthcare in Haiti. A gift of $5 becomes $10 and $10 becomes $20 and so on! Click the button below and select “Maternity Center” from the pulldown menu. 

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