CASTING A WIDE NET: HAITI NEEDS ME & YOU
2020 50K Race Community Fundraiser
On December 5th, I will attempt my first 50k trail race: The McDowell Mountain Frenzy in Arizona. My motivation for those 31 miles? Those that are in need in Haiti. Each mile I run will raise the money needed by children for another year of school: children who, without Aid in Action, wouldn't be able to attend school when the pandemic is over. Even if this race is canceled because of COVID, I will still run that distance here in Colorado, raising funds for AIA.
My heart always takes a leap when we are driving into Simon Pelle Citi Soleil as I anticipate seeing her beautiful expressive smile. Friendship is that cherished connection between two people, a natural connection that pushes beyond geographical, cultural, and economic boundaries. Lillian is my friend. I am blessed.
We first met 10 years ago in the tent city near Simon Pele, just one of the many tent cities created post earthquake on January 12, 2010. With so many structures demolished or deemed unsafe to occupy, those left without homes created shelter with whatever materials they could find. Largely made up of tents donated from non-profits, this one appeared visually less ragged, but a tent city non the less.
Aid in Action supports traditional midwives in Haiti, called Matrons, by providing classes and basic equipment such as training in sanitary precautions, and providing clean birth kits. The responsibility of bringing life into the world exists in every human culture and the connection we feel as midwives transcends culture and language. Lillian was in my very first class, which was only the beginning of our deep friendship.
I share her story with her permission. This is not an easy story for me to write. It will not be easy for you to read.
Lillian has lived her entire life in Simone Pelle, an area outside of Port Au Prince and abuts the notorious slum of Citi Soleil (google it). She worked from childhood as a meat retailer, learning the trade from her mother.
Lillian had a life changing experience on September 14, 1980. At the age of 26, she delivered twins at Saint Catherine’s Hospital. After the healthy babies, a boy and a girl, were born, they were placed one on each side of her. She was then told that they were taking the babies to be bathed. When the nurse returned, she only had the baby girl. After contacting the authorities about her baby’s disappearance, an investigation was conducted. While foul play was suspected at the hospital, she never saw her baby boy again. Bribery and child trafficking are an ongoing reality and could explain the baby’s disappearance.
The hospital approached her with a proposition. She was given the opportunity to join one of the hospital’s job training programs. She had a choice of embroidery, midwifery, or folklore. She chose midwifery. Lillian was young and had no other options. The job opportunity was hardly a replacement for her loss but provided a future for herself and her daughter.
Her daughter was cared for in the hospital’s nursery while Lillian worked there in hands-on training. She was trained by the hospital doctors and helped them through deliveries and learned quickly. She remained working at Saint Catherine’s until 1994, when the hospital went under new management and she was let go. Midwifery had become her profession and she continued delivering babies as a Matron in homes in Simon Pele and Citi soleil.
A delivery in a Haitian home is much different than in the hospital. The people she serves are extremely poor and have few possessions in their homes. The women deliver onto a dirt floor on a sheet which she frequently needs to provide. A matron equipped with a clean birth kit arrives at the birth with life saving provisions. These kits include a bar of soap, gloves, umbilical cord clamp, a single use razor blade, an absorbing pad for delivery and a receiving blanket for the baby.
When asked how she feels about being a midwife Lillian states, “I love being a midwife and I pray that God will give me the strength to continue delivering babies for many more years”. Lillian, like most matrons who deliver more than 60% of the babies born in Haiti, seldom receives payment. They serve very impoverished communities throughout Haiti. Their work is essential but most of those they serve are unable to pay.
Lillian’s story is inconceivably unjust, but she has used her loss to serve and love so very many within her community. I dearly love this woman.
August 2020 News:
Jean Dube - Experts said that during the month of May, COVID-19 would reach its peak in Haiti and the rate of spread of infections and deaths would be catastrophic. Statistic since then have shown us the opposite. COVID-19 infection rates have stayed relatively low compared to our Neighbors in the Dominican republic.
But while Haiti has been able to withstand COVID-19, it hasn’t had much luck dealing with its own problems. Haiti has been in a downward spiral since last November with constant country lockdowns, pressuring the president to step down. The gourde has gone from 70 gourde to 120 gourde for 1 US dollar in less than a year. Life has become almost twice as expensive, but wages are the same.
The City of Repatriates and Neighboring town Fontaine have completely changed and are now being run by gangs from Cite Soleil.
Electricity is another serious issue countrywide, no one getting power. We just got power two days ago for the first time in 45 days.
The Mayor’s and Senators terms are over and there will be elections soon, so far the political issues have started again in Croix de Mission and Tabarre.
Schools are making an attempt to open, they are starting out with the older kids to see how it works before opening up school for the younger children.
Helping the People of Haiti Help Themselves
Our mission is to empower those who are trapped in poverty through education in communities where there is little or no opportunity for a sustainable future.
Aid in Action is a service organization that provides people and resources to help the Haitian communities in Cit`e Soleil and Citi De Repatriates. Aid In Action provides training for teachers, uniforms for school children and the proper tools and instruction for midwife services. In addition, we provide a trade school education for students that promotes economic growth and stability to the individual and their community.
We Need You!
There Are Many Ways To Get Involved