501(c)3 Non-Profit empowering the poor in Haiti

the 12th…

The last few days have been hard. Somehow I wish the calendar wasn’t cyclical, because I’m not really ready to remember what happened a year ago. A lady stopped by yesterday. I didn’t recognize her until she showed me a mangled scar on her ankle. She thanked me that she still had her foot. I remember now. She was the woman that Jocelyn and I carried up a hill, over a rooftop that had crumbled and had taken care of in my yard for almost a week, cleaning and dressing her wounds until help arrived. I wonder if more people will come today. There were so many that I think about, wonder how they are doing, wonder what kind of emotional scars they carry around with them.
I spent yesterday trying to figure out what I was going to do today. I heard that they resurrected the Iron Market and it opened yesterday. I used to go there for all of my beads when our jewelry program had just started. It was a place of significance for me and I cried as I saw the beautiful historical marketplace crumpled on the ground in the wake of the quake. I think for me it will be a moment of joy to see it rebuilt. The one thing that is fixed. The one thing that has been restored and repaired.
My plans for the day were interrrupted out of a deep sleep at 5 am. Vesline is in labor. How odd that last year this day was marked by such tragedy and this morning I am jolted out of bed by the news of a baby coming. My car is not working, so I hiked about 25 minutes in the dark over collapsed rooftops up to her small tent and found her inside writhing on the ground. I brought some gloves and gave my first examination ever to see if it was still safe to transport her to the hospital. She was a mess down there. I won’t go into details, but she had severely neglected herself and infection had set in. I wonder how hard this birth was going to be for her. Already infected and hurting, 17 years old.. one of my hardest working artisans, trying to change her life.
We called a tap tap that took about an hour to get to us. I held Vesline in my arms through her contractions. It was a joy to be able to do that for her. It is not common to see Haitians empathize publicly with others who are hurting here, perhaps because the degree of pain is so severe in most peoples lives. The women were standing around watching, the men were standing further away making jokes and laughing at the women. I asked the father of the baby to come rub Vesline’s back for her. He didn’t want to. So different from our North American experiences of women in labor.
We loaded into the taptap and took the 30 minute bumpy ride to St Damien’s- probably the best maternity hospital in Haiti. From the back of the taptap, I watched Vesline, her face contorting from the pain. I wondered if she knew what was going on with her body, her baby. Does she know how to breathe through the pain, does she understand what is going on in her body, how much more intense it will get before the baby comes? Does she know about the placenta? Will they tell her to breastfeed? Does she have clothes for the baby? She certainly doesn’t have a crib, a bassinet, a carseat, a stroller, a diaper, a baby bath….. she has a tarp on the ground that she is sleeping on under a small three foot tall military tent.
It is January 12th. A baby is coming into the world today. A country is on her knees today. I will spend my day waiting for news of a boy or girl, probably go down to see the beautiful Iron Market, probably cry a little, hug my kids alot, and remember what happened one year ago. God Bless Haiti this year!

3 Comments
  1. Amen… God bless Haiti, and Vesline, and you and all the artisans. That you for being there. Love you!

  2. Makes me cry. May this day be a day of rejoicing for Vesline, and for Haiti. You, Shelley, are such a blessing to so many people. An example of love and compassion. Love you! MOM

  3. What a great need Haiti has for a trained midwife! This post touched my heart. Thank you for sharing Vesline's story.

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