Not better or worse, just different...
I whisper it a hundred times a day.
I declare it when I am confused.
I remind myself of it when I am frustrated.
Haiti is vastly different from the 1st world that I grew up in. I was raised in the luxury and affluence of North America. Things I see happening here, even after 7 years, still surprise me, and I have to remind myself over and over again, it’s just different.
On February 14th I got to experience the wide range of different that Haiti holds when I attended my first birth in Belle Anse. Up until now I have been blessed to work alongside well trained medical professionals in both a hospital and a private clinic in an area of Haiti well known as an elite suburb of the capital city, Port Au Prince. The people in this area are generally more well off and can afford private medical care. While still lacking in many areas, most of the care was on a level that I could at least understand.
Enter Belle Anse.
I don’t live there. I don’t yet understand how things work. Every experience in that village is new to me, another opportunity to learn and to open my mind and heart to a new group of people and a better understanding.
This Belle Anse birth was the first time I attended a delivery outside of a hospital or clinic setting. It was my first “non-sterile” delivery room.
It was also the first time I got to watch the emotions of a nervous new papa, rushing around, hand washing baby clothes in anticipation of a new arrival. I got to see the excitement, anticipation and open fear on his face. It was beautiful.
This Belle Anse birth was the first time I bustled around a deliver room with a chicken weaving between my feet.
It was also the first time that I stepped out of the room during a short break and got to look out over the ocean, feel the salty breeze on my cheeks and marvel at the hugest and tiniest of God’s creation colliding in a single moment.
This birth was the first time I sat beside a birth attendant with no formal medical training.
It was also the first time I sat and watched as the person who’s hands would soon guide a new life in to the world, took the time to press a cool washcloth on a mothers head, and spoon feed her a hearty soup when she needed strength to keep working towards that end goal.
This birth in Belle Anse was the very first time I reached for a piece of equipment or medication and it simply wasn’t available. One box of gloves, 2 bed pads, a spool of thread, a used syringe, 2 plastic bags and a razor blade purchased at the boutique next door. That was the extent of the supplies available.
This birth was the first one where I had only my hands to clear out a tiny nose and mouth, and to rub a tiny still chest and to pray fervently for a breath and a cry.
This birth was the most raw and real and beautiful and holy. It was vastly different from anything I have ever known.
I walked away from that small cement house with a renewed spirit and an overwhelming drive.
I am not moving to Belle Anse to change anything. I am going to learn more than I could ever hope to teach. I am going to bring precious supplies and education, and learn even more precious love and service to others.
I am more excited than I have ever been, to partner with the people who are already working in Belle Anse, Haiti. I am blessed to come along side them to figure out how in the world we can put together theirs and mine to make sure that more babies and more mothers stay alive.
Just because something is different doesn’t mean it is wrong, just because it’s not the way I know doesn’t mean it needs to be fixed.
*"Baby Valentina” Born February 14th, 2015.
You can check out my previous post for details and current needs for our move to Belle Anse!