Haitian blogs

A New Month A New School Year

Livesay Haiti -

Monday morning, September fourth, our kids will begin again.

All five children remaining in our charge report excellent summers filled with friends and family and sugar and activity galore. Nary a soul complained that summer 2017 was lame.

Troy and I have appropriately congratulated ourselves on a plan made and executed that resulted in such pleased children.  The only parenting mistake I have made this summer was to eat a large portion of the candy they brought home from their USA trips.

SourPatchKids, Whoppers, and TootsieRolls are all still delicious, if you're wondering.

I have since repented and then went to buy and replace each item menopause and stress forced me to consume.


This is the beginning of their seventh school year in the little Heartline Academy School House.

On Labor Day of 2011 we stood in a circle and prayed God would honor the work of the teachers and students that entered to teach and to learn.  He has proven faithful year after year. Our kids love learning.  (I mean, within normal limits and not with 100% consistency.)

Of course, parenting is a lot of questioning if you are seeing all the signs and catching all the possible meanings and communicating well --- and then going back and trying to re-connect when you misstep or eat all the candy.

Seven individual personalities  -- and each one so different. Our brains buzz with all the variables involved in meeting each of them where they are.  Because of that we still enter into each new year feeling nervous for our kids and wanting their brains to be challenged in positive ways that help them grow into loving, kind, and productive adults.  That said, our prayers continue as children numbers three through five enter into their high school years and children numbers six and seven take on the tasks of the fourth and fifth grades.

The only graduate of Heartline Academy has gone on to higher education and parenting.  The little school that could has turned out to be a great place of learning and launching and I expect that the next group of launches will bear fruit as well.

Their teacher Stefanie Raleigh landed in Haiti a week ago, she is high energy and ready to go.   We feel like we won the teaching-proffesion lottery with her and thank God she chose to come in spite of a ginormous cut in pay and lifestyle.  Love does very crazy things, am I right?

I have not written much in months. I have joy and pain and stories to share for sure, I'm really hoping to get some time to put it all down for the sake of sharing and remembering myself.

Here in Port au Prince, the losses around us are great.  The work of open hearted communication can be draining.  I often catch myself listening to stories and thinking, "That's probably not true", and that makes me sad.  I would rather just believe people are truthful than switch over to being a non-stop skeptic.  The truth is, this is a sad and heavy place.  That is about all I need to know.

Until energy and attitude allow for writing a more thorough update, we hope and pray that you and yours are also ready to head into something new and hopeful ... a school year or a new thing that will bring renewal to your souls.

Pax,

Tara for us all 

Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine Présente!

HaitiAnalysis -

  THIS AUGUST 12 MARKS TEN YEARS SINCE THE KIDNAPPING AND DISAPPEARING OF HAITIAN REVOLUTIONARY LOVINSKY PIERRE-ANTOINE

On the eve of Bwa Kay Iman (Bois Caïman, Aug. 14), and on International Youth Day (Aug. 12), we dedicate this forthcoming issue of Haiti Solidarity to this remarkable, powerful brother.  Father, husband, friend, psychologist, human rights activist, Lavalas leader—Lovinsky loved his people, and they love him.  Not a year has gone by that he hasn’t been sorely missed.
    On July 28, 2007, just three years into the 2004 coup and the 92-year anniversary of the first US occupation of Haiti of 1915-1934, a crowd of protestors and witnesses watched Lovinsky lead a demonstration in front of UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince.  We listened to his speech, in which he made the connection between the current occupation and the first US occupation. Lovinsky invoked the Haitian revolutionaries, like Charlemagne Péralte, who fought to end the 1915 invasion, and he said that that legacy of revolutionary struggle lives on in the people today. He said the people would always fight to uproot neo-colonialism and exploitation—they would always fight for their freedom. Two weeks after this speech, Lovinsky was kidnapped.

    Lovinsky dedicated his life to fighting against the restoration of the Haitian Army.  Today and into the future, we honor his work with victims of the Haitian Military, police forces and of the United Nations troops, who have occupied Haiti since 2004.  We must hold the UN occupying force accountable for the disappearance of Lovinsky under their watch and for all the crimes it has committed against the Haitian people.

    As we echo his voice against the violence of the police, occupation forces and the restoration of the Haitian military, let us also demand justice for Lovinsky https://www.facebook.com/HaitiActionCommittee/posts/10155591278684886

    Lovinsky, and all of those who have fought, suffered, and died in the struggle—in Haiti and elsewhere—leave us a legacy.  To honor that legacy, we too must struggle to build a new society in which humanity, justice, empathy, and love are the prevailing values.  Little by little, we must have faith, like Lovinsky, that we will make progress.  But we must help each other.  We must follow the example of our Haitian brothers and sisters who say, “Nou pap obeyi!”  We do not obey!  We resist!  We believe in the power of collective struggle.  Little by little, together, we will make a difference.
In solidarity,

Haiti Action  Committeewww.haitisolidarity.net @HaitiAction1 and on Facebook

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Livesay Haiti -


Many months ago we began to share the history of a young woman named Sarah.  At that time a decision was made to be careful to keep Sarah's identity private while sharing her story.

Sarah knows that her history and her rising are both being shared on the internet. She is aware that we do not post pictures of her face on-line, but that her 7 month old daughter, Sophia, is the most photographed and instagrammed baby in Haiti.

We (staff of Maternity Center) met Sarah in the fall of 2016 when she was 13 years old and 22 weeks pregnant.  At the time we were told that while Sarah's mother was out in the country-side tending to a garden, Sarah was left alone at home. A man came to work in the shared yard between their home and the neighbor/land owner's home.  That man raped her. We were told that he was not someone Sarah or others in the shared yard could name or identify. We were told nobody knew who or where he was.

Sarah and her Mother did the official work of getting an examination at a large non-government hospital to prove the assault had happened and begin the paperwork for filing a report with the police. That hospital agreed to allow Sarah to choose to get her prenatal care and deliver with us.

Because Troy and I live near Sarah and her mother, we interacted or at least waved and greeted one another daily for most of her last half of pregnancy.  Some trust was built before the baby arrived.

In mid January, Sarah's Mom knocked on our gate one morning to say that Sarah was in labor.  Later that day beautiful Sophia was born at the Heartline Maternity Center.

The trauma and pain caused by a sexual assault is a huge thing to work through.

Giving birth to a baby that is a result of that assault is an entirely new trauma.

It took a lot of time and grace and miraculous love for Sarah to decide to let down her guard enough to bond with and breastfeed Sophia.  She did that.  She became THE 2017 hopeful story.

Had she not been able to do it, not a single one of us would have judged or been disappointed.  More than anything, her ability to serve and feed her daughter blew our entire staff away. It still does seven and a half months later.

Since January things about the assault and the circumstances surrounding it have become more and less clear at the same time.

A metaphor for Haiti. Things are always more and less clear. 
Stories evolve and as more of it is being revealed we feel a large sense of duty to help Sarah navigate a culture that is not predisposed to protect her or Sophia.


*   *   *


In March we celebrated Sarah's fourteenth birthday. Around that time there were some things said and done in an effort to try and get Troy and I to move Sarah into our house. I won't go into the whole detailed story, but Sarah's Mom decided to make up a detailed story about losing their home in order to try and pressure us into inviting them to live with us.

We initially believed they were homeless. Within a few weeks several lies came to light and we sat down and talked about it.

On the surface it might seem like a great idea, "Yes! Move S & S into your house!"  I probably cannot cover the nuances of the situation and the culture in one post, but the bottom line was that we knew that there were several lies being told and that the goal was to transfer responsibility for Sarah and Sophia over to us.  We know taking responsibility for children is no small thing, it is certainly not a short game either.

(I wrote several paragraphs about that ^ and decided to take them out of this post.)

In June Sarah's mom left to go south for the summer to work in their garden.  Sarah stayed with an aunt downtown for a time.  For whatever reason, that did not work out long term and Sarah is now back in our neighborhood and hanging out each day at the Maternity Center or our house. She has been helpful at the MC and jumps in to do the things she has learned how to help with over the months. At night she sleeps in her own house down the street.

Sarah's Mom is supposed to return to Port au Prince this week.  In her Mom's absence we have started the process of getting Sarah registered to return to school this fall.  Sadly, when a young woman is a mother (whether raped or in a relationships with a boyfriend) she must hide that fact from the school. There will not be anyone at school that will know Sarah is carrying the responsibility of Sophia too.

Heartline Midwives worked with another assault victim that had a baby boy with us in 2012.  That young woman also returned to school when her child was a year old and recently graduated at the top of her class in June 2017.  Nobody in her school, not teachers, faculty, or students, know she has a five year old. This is "system Ayiti". Somehow the onus of secrecy and shame is on the person that has been assaulted. It is justice denied.

This summer we learned that the man that violated Sarah is in fact known. He has a name and they know it. We also know he lives about 8 miles from us. Not only that, we learned that he is requesting to see Sophia.  He is an adult, not a teenager.

This man's mother wants to take Sophia and has told Sarah as much.  She says she can raise her too.

The people that own the land Sarah's little house sits on and share the same yard are telling Sarah that she should let Sophia know her dad.  (It seems that he is an acquaintance of theirs and they always knew who was responsible for Sarah's assault.) They recently told Sarah that Sophia is going to want to know who her father is and she should consider that.

Last week Sarah was shuffling through a bunch of papers looking for something we needed to help get the ball rolling for returning to school this fall.  She came across the police report for her assault.

Her mother never finished filing the papers.  Sarah was told it was all finished and filed.  She has recently learned that is not true.  The rape was never officially reported and going for the rape-kit-exam at the hospital was just an exercise they did but the information was not used to finish the process of filing the report.  

Sarah is devastated.

A couple of weeks ago Sarah asked KJ (a Midwife at the MC) if she has to let the rapist see Sophia and shared what the neighbors are saying.  Sarah said she fears what people will tell Sophia when she is older and can understand.  She said everyone in our neighborhood knows about the assault and knows Sophia is the product of that attack. She wonders how she can deal with the heaviness of that when other people might not honor her and allow that to be something **she** tells Soph some day.

There is no happy "we solved this" ending for Sarah and Sophia.  Right now we await confirmation that Sarah can return to school.  Sarah is resisting the pressure of the neighbors and refusing to agree that the family of the rapist has a right to know Sophia.

Three donors have come forward to cover the cost of Sophia's daycare and the cost of school.  We are waiting to hear from the school, Sarah took tests two days this week in order to get correct placement into the right classes.

The story continues to be come more and less clear.  We are all taking it one day and one change at a time.

We know one thing:  We want better for Sarah and everyone like her.




Unpredictable Sightings

Livesay Haiti -

The other day my friend KJ texted me to tell me that she had just seen one of the security guard's balls.

Because everything is random and weird here I wasn't totally shocked.

I just said, "Huh, lucky? you! What was the occasion?"

Turns out he had quite some swelling post hernia surgery and he thought she might be the one to comment on the swelling.

She informed him pregnant women were her specialty, not so much swollen balls.

A few days later I got a text from Troy.
He said, "Well, this is how my morning is going, I just saw ______'s (name of owner withheld) balls.

Sometimes life is like this. 

Our Team - Changes & Updates

Livesay Haiti -

Operating a Birth Center slash Maternal Health Program cross culturally is an every-single-dang-day adventure.

"Adventure" is similar to "interesting" -- these words are powerful blanket words that mean many things - alllll the things even - you say them when you are being careful and a bit diplomatic. 

Communication cross culturally is SOMETHING ... Yet another powerful blanket word.

At least weekly someone (client or co-worker) will tell me something and inside my head I will be saying to my head, "What is the point what is the point what is the point please what is the ever-livin point?"  

About ten minutes in, the point will come out sideways.  
It's like that here.  
The points are made indirectly.  
Practice your deep breathing and wait on it.  
Eventually it (the point) will appear in a cloud of glory. 

As the guests in this culture, the onus is on the foreigners to learn language and culture and work within the constraints of cultural norms whenever and however it might be possible.

Screaming at the top of our lungs in frustration needs to happen privately, into our own giant pillows.  

In order to create team unity, and foster mutual respect, we all need to keep it together no matter how much the situations around us might make us insane or sad or just totally broken and hurt.

The Maternity Center (and ME especially) are grateful to God for the group of nurses and midwives that have gathered and come here to serve Haitian mommas and babes. 

Our staff has expanded quite a bit in the last two years. 

We now have 24/7/365 coverage at the Maternity Center. 

The number of women we serve expanded after Together Rising gave us a large grant to build a second floor and add more women to the program.

We are in a bit of another transition this fall. 

We are asking for your prayers. Please pray that we continue to work well as a group/team. 

Our staff is family. That has become important to the flow of things here. Trusting the people you work with is so important when dealing with life and death and intensely emotional situations. 

GREAT communication among staff is equally critical.  We continually ask God to help us communicate well at all times.



OUR STAFF :

Meet Beth McHoul, founder and visionary of the Maternity Center as well as our Director of Education. 

Beth is currently in a life-transition - as she and her husband John set-up their home in Florida due to his changing health needs.

Going forward Beth will continue to serve at the H.M.C as a Midwife on a more part-time basis, covering the MC whenever she can be in Haiti. Her fingerprints and influence are all over our work and our Maternity Center. Her physical absence is something we are grieving right now. Prayers for Beth -and us- as we make these adjustments are appreciated. 

Beth is available to speak and share more about the work we do by phone, or in person, if logistics allow. If you have an interest in that, please contact Elizabeth Thompson, our Development Coordinator to request a meeting with Beth. Elizabeth can be reached at Elizabeth@heartlineministries.org 


Nirva J. is a nurse of many years, with more than a decade of Labor and Delivery experience. She has been with HMC five years and oversees the Saturday teen-girl program called "Youth in Action". Nirva is a hard-working single Mom of two and a valued senior member of the MC staff.



Bethany Johnson - AKA - "KJ" - is a Midwife and serves as our Clinical Director.  KJ brings many years of experience in the Philippines, Texas, and Haiti to our team. She has been with the HMC for four years.  KJ makes things beautiful wherever she goes.  KJ works closely with Dr. Jen in writing and updating our protocols and keeps us all up to speed.




Islande V. is a nurse with a tender bedside manner. She joined HMC in February of 2016 and is the nurse you'll most likely find at the MC if you drop in on a weekday. Islande is a detail oriented person and handles many administrative tasks at the MC.








Mica B. was a former client of the HMC and is now a trusted and valuable member of our staff. She graduated from Midwives for Haiti's school/program last September and has been on our staff full time for almost one year. Mica was a nurse before she had her baby with us. Now that she has the Midwifery skills she is the perfect addition to our staff. 






Guerline L. joined our staff earlier this year, in February of 2017. She is also a graduate of Midwives for Haiti (she and Mica graduated together) and is yet another very tender and calm addition to our team. Guerline and her husband just welcomed their first child, baby Carla, to the world in late July. Guerline will return to work part-time in October and full-time in November after her Maternity leave is finished.

Stephanie D. is a nurse hoping to pursue midwifery school in the future. She awaits her chance to officially sit for her nursing exam. Please pray that she can do that yet this year. Steph is waiting on a system that lacks organization and they need to OFFER the test so she can take it. She is the smiliest person on staff. Steph joined us in Feburary 2017 as well.

Today we welcomed a new Midwife to our staff for her first day with us. 

Jessica Williamson is an RN/CNM from Louisiana. She speaks southern and Kreyol and is excited to be back in Haiti, having lived here in the past. Jessica will check us out and vice versa for the next few months. We all assume that the trial period will prove we want to work together forever. 

Please pray for Jessica and her daughter Phoebe-Kate as they are settling into full-time life in Haiti (yet again). We are thrilled to welcome Jessica and believe she will be an awesome addition to our expat staff and our family.


Michaelle B, the clinic part-time administrative assistant, works Thursdays and Fridays to help keep some semblance of order on our two most chaotic program days.  She recently graduated from seminary and hopes to use some of her training to offer the women that are in our programs emotional and spiritual support. 







L to R - Clermitha, Gran R,  and Rosena

We are also **incredibly blessed** to have a housekeeping and cooking staff of three strong women with moxie all the way UP TO HERE.  

Rosena, Gran R. and Clermitha keep the place running smoothly by dealing with non stop questions at the front gate,  never ending linens that need laundering, as well as cooking for program days and the women recovering in post-partum. They also support the nursing/midwife staff in many other tangible ways each day.  

All three of these ladies are Moms, two of them are Grandmothers.  
They have LIVED LIFE and they KNOW THINGS. 

All in all our staff of twelve strong women includes five single moms and four grandmothers. That is just basically to say, nobody should mess with us. 

And me.  I'm here too.  
Hi - I'm Tara. I have been a Midwife officially for three years, I have worked at the H.M.C. in some capcity since mid-2008. I am honored and humbled and poop-my-pants-nervous to have taken on the role of Director about one year ago.

Please pray for us.  

Please know that we believe that our Moms and Babies  (our clients) being covered in prayer is KEY, I mean like GIANT ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT KEY, to our success.

Thank you so much for reading. For praying. For giving. For investing. 

With love,

HMC Staff

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