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Looking Back, Year End Stats - 2013 at Heartline Maternity Center, Haiti

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 9, 2014 - 9:21 pm

According to the World Health Organization: "About 287 000 women died in 2010 of complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths can be avoided as the necessary medical interventions exist and are well known. The key obstacle is pregnant women's lack of access to quality care before, during and after childbirth."

Our first goal is to provide quality care before, during, and after childbirth. Our second goal is to do it with love.

We do not place an abundance of importance on statistics. If *statistics are the forest, we are always aware of each individual tree. As a team, we are too involved in life and relationships to focus on the numbers.  

Working with the women we quickly learn that one healthy pregnancy carried to term, one victorious labor and delivery, one healthy single baby born to one mother that overcame immeasurable obstacles is what truly matters. 

The young woman courageously delivering her healthy baby far outweighs the preponderance of any statistic. That would be true in any setting in the world. However, here in Haiti we are working with multiple rape and abuse survivors and are frequently involved in situations that require more emotional and physical support than the average pregnancy.

At the Maternity Center each woman is known by name. Statistics never know a name. Without a doubt a community has developed.  It is safe to say that staff, midwives, and pregnant women alike all look forward to program days.

Having said that - we recognize that those that give to keep this program operating and pray continually for these women and for the staff might like to see how the numbers looked in 2013.

Overall Year End Stats:
  • 84 women ended their time in the Prenatal Program in 2013 - OF THOSE -
  • 68 finished their time in Prenatal Program because they remained in the program until delivery - 68 women gave birth to living, healthy babies and then joined the Early Childhood Development Program after babies were born
  • Technically there were 70 babies born to 68 women - due to two sets of twins - both sets were girls
  • 5 women miscarried in the first trimester
  • 7 withdrew from the program early (were either risked out due to conditions that precluded us from serving them or moved away from Port au Prince)
  • 4 women gave birth to babies prematurely, 3 of those babies died 
  • The 4th preemie lived - he was born at 31-32 weeks, and is now thriving
  • We had a rougher year for transports, we had to transport 17 times total (still low considering the high-risk population we serve)
  • Of the 17 transports 14 women ended up with C/S deliveries
  • 1 baby born in the ambulance in 2013
  • 68 moms lived - 0% maternal death - This is the statistic we are most thrilled to share
Breaking it down:
  • 30 boys
  • 40 girls
  • 50% of the women were having their first baby
  • The oldest mother that delivered this year was 46
  • The youngest mother that delivered this year was 13
Fun & random stats:
  • In 2013 we hired another talented Haitian nurse to join our staff
  • The longest labor at the M.C. went into a fourth day
  • 3 babies were born on the front porch or near the gate
  • Heartline delivered two expat babies in 2013
  • 1,700+ Depo Provera birth control shots given - this program is growing rapidly - we're currently averaging 45 injections every Friday 
  • A brand new PRE-PREGNANCY TEEN club was started this fall - in an attempt to educate and reduce teen pregnancy in Haiti
  • 52 Friday Bible Study/Devotions Presented
  • 52  Friday Birth-Control Education Classes Presented
  • 52 Thursday Prenatal Classes
  • 52 Tuesday Early Childhood Development Classes
  • The women eat a meal each day they come for class - Upwards of 4,000 nutritious meals were served in 2013
More Still:
  • After every consultation the midwife that has seen the woman takes a moment to pray with her before she leaves for the day
  • Every mother that delivers can stay in the postpartum area of the Maternity Center for a days or more if needed. One woman stayed six weeks this year. The women are then seen for a postpartum visit at 1 week, 3 weeks, and 6 weeks postpartum - approximately 235 post partum visits were completed in 2013
  • 90% of the women that delivered also chose to attend six months of early childhood education classes
  • The ambulance was driven more in 2013 than in 2011 and 2012 combined. It is in excellent condition and continues to be an important part of what we do  - when we transport for a C/S, we still pick the women back up at the Hospital and offer them a few days of rest and recovery time in our postpartum wing.  Hospitals in Haiti generally discharge at 24 hours post surgery
  • After childhood development class, if babies are sick they can be seen for the first six months of their lives. An estimated 400 individual visits to see/treat for minor and major illness took place - Once women graduate from early childhood development class they are asked and advised to use a local Pediatrician
  • Most women are driven home after post partum care - we did not keep stats on this but we estimate that 60 women received transportation to their home after their babies were born 
  • MANY thanks to every visiting midwife and nurse midwife, PA and Physician - but especially those that stayed for a few weeks or months to cover while the full-time staff traveled
  • We are grateful ... To each and every person that supports the Heartline Maternity Center with your financial gifts and your prayers - God shows up and does God-sized things every week, it is an honor to be a small part of His work - thank you for joining us in it

A picture is worth 1000 statistics. Here are just a few photos from 2013:

We are currently waiting on the first baby of 2014.  We pray that 2014 will be a year of LIFE and JOY and GROWTH and continued PROTECTION.


The Heartline Maternity Center Staff


*To see 2012, you can click here. 
Categories: Haitian blogs

tales of delirium

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 8, 2014 - 11:26 pm
~this is what victory over travel looks like~
the gate to our neighborhood 

hazelnut and peanut both had signage as well 
We made it home.  WE MADE IT HOME!  I decided that needed to be louder.  Phew.  All that build up and pack and rush and buy and plan and rush some more ... done.  Thank-you Lawd!

The flights didn't go as planned exactly, which meant 3 less hours in the hotel, which meant tired kids, but they really did great in spite of less sleep.  They pulled bags like maniacs and made their funny comments and over-all they were champs. I would even say they made some friends with the Miami TSA people. 

For the kids, delirium finally set in somewhere over Cuba. While in the sky, Lydia asked, "Is this Haiti?" 

No. This is the sky.  I can see how you got confused though.

I had a similar  -  scratch that - I had TWO similar moments.  

First, we landed after midnight in MIami, on what was technically Tuesday.  Troy stayed at the bag carousel and I went to check into hotel and get kids to bed sooner. Seemed like a brilliant plan but then the hotel room was two miles away on foot and Troy realized he is not capable of moving 9 bags by himself.  We only think out the beginning of our plans, rarely the end.  Troy called me. I said I was almost done settling kids and would walk two miles back to him and help with bags. As I was walking back I saw a little girl running out in front of me and I thought, "Well how in the heck did Lydia get out of bed and get down here?!" (delirium) Of course the hotel made us take all the bags all the way up to the 6th floor. Of course we were all the way down the hall from the elevator. We slept for sixteen or seventeen minutes and woke up to head back down to re-check everything in a MADHOUSE airport. I have seen Miami look pretty bad, but these might have been the busiest American Airlines counters ever.

We reasoned that in Dallas nobody cared that all 5 kids and the puppy were not at the counter to get boarding passes, so surely in our world that always makes perfect sense the rules would be just the same in Miami.  We all know how consistent airlines and their employees are.  <gah!>  After standing in the loooooong line to re-check bags that we never ever wanted back in the first place, we were told that the kids had to be standing there with us to check back in.  I speed-walked (arms and all) it back to the hotel room to wake them, dress them, skip feeding them, skip showering, and head back to the line which we did not have time to go through again.  Once that was finished it was less time than we needed to go back to the hotel "free" breakfast.  (Sorry to say marketing geniuses, most of us know that a $189 room that includes breakfast in the rate is not really a 'free' breakfast. Nice try, though.)

Troy had three ounces of grease spread around his hair and bolted to the hotel to shower and grab the carry on that the kids and I did not have enough hands to get down to the American Airlines desk.  I started the TSA security process with the kids and Chestnut the (potentially explosive) puppy.  Isaac insisted on asking a billion questions about why they checked his hands for explosives; he carried the puppy. Then the TSA guy started asking him why he was going to Haiti so Isaac told him the short story.  The TSA guy then said, "What? No Taco Bell and no Cartoon Network?? That's got to be a rough life, man."  Isaac said, "It's not too rough - we have a good life."  The guy seemed unconvinced but later as we were looking for our gate Isaac said, "Weird. Why Taco Bell?"  To him that seems like a fairly lame America convenience.  We then had just enough time to buy donuts that were $22 for a dozen and juice that was $24.  That is not a free breakfast either, by the way.

Once in the air we were seated in a few pairs. The little girls wanted to be together and I sat them down and plopped down next to Hope.  Not too long after a flight attendant came and was talking super sweet to some kids in front of me.  I thought, "Oh, sweet, the kid (or kids) in that row must be flying alone and the flight attendant wants to love on them a little bit."  I leaned forward to see how old the kid was.  Phoebe was 7 and Lydia was 6.  I forgot for a moment that my children were seated by me, right in front of me.  (delirium)

Miami at midnight  -  hard core kids, right there
We arrived home to gate and dog fanfare and a huge Haitian meal cooked and ready to eat.  Geronne freaks me out more and more as we've known each other longer. She might be the hardest working person I know. Troy said, "I feel like the house looks better than when we left.  I think she painted?"  Sure enough, the woman touched up hand prints and painted to welcome us home.  The house has never been so clean, it is very sad that she had to let those kids sitting in front of me on the airplane come in and ruin it all.

We unpacked and organized and found our stuff that had been moved around to give the renters more space. Today Lydia looked in a box and found her blanket, with all the zeal possible she said, "Finally! We are together again like we are supposed to be!"  

Last night was crazy rough, lots of tears at bedtime (fatigue makes cowards of us all). Tonight was easy as pie (that someone else makes) and no tears - just excitement to head to school with Jimmy and Becky tomorrow.  I am equally excited that tomorrow is Prenatal day.  I won't know a single woman, as they are all new since I left in late July, but I am anxious to get going on knowing names and faces.

A little bit ago Troy and I had our official moment of reckoning.  I had tried to blame the dryer in Waco, TX for shrinking clothing. As it turns out we both gained a few L B's in America.  I am officially up 8lbs. and Troy is up 10lbs. That's what Tex-Mex and temperature controlled rooms and vacations funded by my parents will do to a person. Time to reign it in and take off the feed sack.

We are glad to be home. We are also going to take some time to allow the sad feelings and to sit with those too.  It's incongruent and that is okay.  Who doesn't want to be all the places with all the loved ones all the time? We are learning that returning can be beautiful at the exact same time leaving is difficult.  We are also learning (wherever we are) that the quote below is truth.

Categories: Haitian blogs

Déclaration conjointe contre la présence de l’inculpé Jean-Claude Duvalier aux cérémonies officielles du jour de l’indépendance d’Haïti

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Jan. 8, 2014 - 7:45 am
Des organisations s’expriment contre la banalisation de l’impunité et le révisionnisme

Déclaration conjointe contre la présence de l’inculpé Jean-Claude Duvalier aux cérémonies officielles du jour de l’indépendance d’Haïti

Document soumis à AlterPresse le 7 janvier 2014

Nous signataires de cette déclaration, issus de la société civile haïtienne organisée, sommes profondément indignés par la présence du dictateur déchu Jean-Claude Duvalier et de l’ex militaire putschiste Prosper Avril, sur invitation du Président en exercice Michel Martelly, aux cérémonies officielles du jour de l’indépendance d’Haïti, le 1er janvier 2014 aux Gonaïves. Cette présence des anciens tortionnaires est une provocation et une insulte inqualifiable à la nation. Elle est également un affront à la mémoire des milliers de victimes de la dictature duvaliériste.    

Jean-Claude Duvalier est aujourd’hui inculpé, par devant la justice haïtienne, pour crimes financiers et crimes contre l’humanité. Les victimes, ayant engagées des poursuites contre l’ex-dictateur, attendent encore une décision de la Cour d’appel par rapport aux crimes contre l’humanité ; crimes imprescriptibles et non amnistiables.    

La justice ne saurait être confondue avec la vengeance. Ce sont les duvaliéristes et leurs tontons macoutes qui ont eu le monopole de la violence d’État, avec tout ce que cela implique. Ils sont jusqu’à présent protégés par l’impunité systémique qui prévaut dans le pays. Les victimes de la dictature et les défenseurs des droits humains, qui ne confondent pas réconciliation et déni de justice, s’insurgent contre la banalisation de l’impunité, le révisionnisme historique et exigent que la Cour d’appel rende enfin sa décision, conformément à son mandat et par respect pour les victimes qui ont courageusement porté plainte contre Duvalier.    

Nous appelons les différents secteurs de la société à refuser la réhabilitation du duvaliérisme et la banalisation de l’impunité.    

Port-au-Prince, le 7 janvier 2014.    

Organisations signataires 

1. Collectif contre l’impunité  2. CEDH (Centre œcuménique des droits humains) 

3. Centre Pétion Bolivar 

4. CRESFED (Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement) 

5. GARR (Groupe d’appui aux rapatriés et réfugiés) 

6. Kay Fanm (Maison des femmes) 

7. JILAP (Commission épiscopale Justice et Paix) 

8. MOUFHED (Mouvement des femmes haïtiennes pour l’éducation et le développement) 

9. POHDH (Plateforme des organisations haïtiennes de défense des droits humains) 

10. RNDDH (Réseau national de défense des droits humains) 

11. SOFA (Solidarité des femmes haïtiennes)    

Pour les organisations signataires et authentification 

Sylvie W. Bajeux, Directrice exécutive CEDH 
Pierre Espérance, Directeur exécutif RNDDH

Categories: Haitian blogs

In Our Pages: January 9

New York Times on Haiti - Jan. 8, 2014 - 1:00 am
From The International Herald Tribune.
Categories: Haitian blogs

2013's oddest moments

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 6, 2014 - 9:37 pm

As we (TRY to) fly home to Port au Prince, I thought I'd review the whack things I could not bring myself to discuss earlier.  There is an unwritten rule about telling embarrassing stories about people, even when the people are you. Official rules state that you must allow sufficient time to pass before sharing. The more ridiculous it is, the longer the waiting period. We have a story from 2005 that still cannot be told  -- but these weird 2013 moments are safe to share now.

The one already covered: A bat bites Isaac on the ear. Read it here: The little known dangers of spelunking 

The untold:
  1. In February strangers (at the time we had never met) showed up at the PAP airport with plans to move their son out of a corrupt and dishonest (in case you didn't know that corruption involves dishonesty) orphanage. I met Amanda and Jeremy in the airport parking lot and we exchanged our nervous greetings. Troy was gone but I thought, 'these people are normal, this should turn out to be an okay thing.' We went about getting to know one another and they started the legal process to move their son into foster care. A few days later they needed to appear in court and tell the judge why they were asking to take their son out of the orphanage. We were all fairly nervous, mainly because we understood enough about the leader of the orphanage to know that we were messing with somebody that would not appreciate the decision. (See how diplomatic I am?) The entire day was utter drama and thing after thing was sketchy and 110% peculiar. As we searched for answers things got pretty stressful. At some point as we were heading into court, Jeremy lost his insulin pump/port. (If you have diabetes, insulin pumps are small, computerized devices (about the size of a small cell phone) that you wear on your belt or put in your pocket that allow for a continuous flow of a rapid-acting insulin to be released into your body. The pumps have a small, flexible tube (called a catheter), which is inserted under the skin of your abdomen and taped in place. The insulin pump is designed to deliver a continuous amount of insulin, 24 hours a day according to a programmed plan unique to each pump wearer. The amount of insulin delivered can be changed by the user.) The day kept getting stranger and longer and longer and stranger. We went back and forth from the courthouse twice.  If you have ever watched the way some of these things work in the developing world, you know that fancy, longhand, ceremonious, raised stamp letters are incredibly necessary for anything official to happen.  Everyone needs to put on airs and act very important. Documents that are binding (in that moment) must take about three or ALL the hours to be dictated and written. We had mainly joined our friends to act as translators and drivers for this day.  At some point late in the day my new girlfriend leaned over and said, "His pump came out and he is not doing well and he needs to leave the court room right now. Please go with him.  I will stay here to finish the paperwork. He needs insulin."  I looked at Jeremy and agreed that he looked like a person that could decide to vomit or die at any moment. Okay, I thought, no problem! A small town in a developing country after 5pm, I'm sure insulin is available right next door. That part is a lie. I knew we had a problem, and the problem was bigger than me not knowing a dang thing about Diabetes. I had no idea how long I would be outside with Jeremy. Troy began searching the town on foot while I guarded our friend as he tried to be alive and coherent in the back of our truck.  Minutes passed and more minutes passed.  Troy kept texting to say how many times he had struck out in his insulin search. I began to imagine what I might do if Jeremy decided to go into shock or die or something.  Finally, Troy gave up and decided that we had to head to Port au Prince in order for insulin to be found. Troy was afraid to wait because we were two hours away and Jeremy was getting sicker.  Amanda was still in the court room, without a translator, fending for herself.  Troy and Jeremy left and I waited for Amanda.  Approximately 10 minutes later, Amanda emerged, documents in hand, victorious.  We asked the attorney to help us get back to town.  The attorney took it upon himself to drive like a bat (that does not bite Isaac) out of hell. We caught up to Jer and Troy and jumped in with them.  Troy had located insulin in a small town along the way. An old friend from our first years in Haiti had some on hand. It seems sketchy and maybe it was, but when Jeremy was barfing out of the car door and was the color of people lying in their coffin, we decided that any insulin from any source was an excellent decision. Thankfully, this story ended well. In our minds there were capes and defibrillators and CPR and many life-saving heroics.  In reality it was just some fast driving, sweat, and vomiting. 
  2. In October I was trying to finish up my home-birth requirements for my midwifery training. I had four of the five and only needed one more observe and one more new born exam.  Some really cool midwives in the Dallas area had been allowing me to come to births when it worked out okay for them and their clients.  One evening the phone rang in the middle of the night with an offer to go to a birth. It was located in the middle of nothing (that is the descriptor for most of Texas) and I was too chicken to find it by myself. I begged Troy to drive me and told him we needed to rush if I was going to make it in time. When we arrived I felt odd but thought, "who doesn't feel odd at 3am?"  I sat down on the floor to begin charting for the midwives.  A few moments later I started to feel a little spinny. I glanced up to see a mouse about 3 feet away smiling at me.  I forced myself not to scream and ruin the birth zen. I jumped up and sat on a chair instead.  A few minutes later a baby (perfect baby!) and a placenta arrived.  It was a few minutes later when I knew that my weird feeling was not related to 3am as much as it was to being ill.  I asked if there was a bathroom (the only one I knew of was right there in that same room where a baby had just entered the world).  I bolted for the bathroom just in time to lose 2/3rds of my innards in a complete strangers home while they were holding their 8 minute old baby girl.  Things continued to spin and I found my way out of that house and to the car where Troy lay sleeping in the backseat.  In my mind there were capes and life-saving and rodent-deterring heroics. In reality it was just some fast driving, sweat, and vomiting.

Last week lots of writers shared their top moments of 2013. I like those.  I enjoy remembering and I like looking back and taking stock. I would like to be super detailed and over the top about reviewing 2013 but I am preparing a circus to take the show on the road and I don't have the time to sit with ALL the memories.

  • the year we met Alex and his family from Colorado and were so lucky to be his foster-family
  • the year we dealt with insane levels of deception and had our hearts broken as we watched it get worse and worse
  • the year we had SO MANY friends/family come to celebrate Paige's graduation from high school - nothing has ever meant quite so much to me
  • the year of training and catching 18 babies and watching lots of others be born into the capable hands of my co-workers
  • the year of a 5+ month furlough and all the joy and challenge that comes with transition
  • the year of working on educational goals (even though we are so old)
  • the year of Paige's emancipation
  • the year of family (thank you Mom and Dad Porter for the gift of your time)
  • the year of Whitney (our new-to-us niece that came to Haiti and then to Christmas)
  • the year of healing  (thank you to a counselor that helped Troy)
  • the year of confrontation (super awkward and not fun - but necessary)
  • the year of Chestnut the puppy that saved Tara's shriveled and dried up little heart
In 2014 we pray:
  • That we learn, grow, and love one another and others well
  • For Jimmy and Becky as they are teaching our kids  - Bless them, Lord
  • Moses goes home to his beautiful and inspirational family
  • Alex goes home to his heroic and discerning family
  • Britt and Chris as they start their new adventure in education and relocation
  • Paige finds her feet and runs with joy into what lies ahead
  • I pass the midwifery test and conquer my fear of failure
  • That we daily daily daily look to Jesus as our example as we live and love others 
Lastly, the semi-awkward moment where I share what I wrote that I was most proud of this past year:

This post at Momastery

This post about adoption

This post about awkward cross-cultural stuff

This post about Paige - Fly Paige! 
Keep up with Heartline Ministries Updates by liking our FaceBook page here: https://www.facebook.com/HeartlineHaiti

Categories: Haitian blogs

repair us we pray

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 5, 2014 - 11:13 am
repairableIt was given to me when she passed away, carried from Omaha to Port au Prince.

The pieces of my grandmothers blue candy dish lay shattered on my bedroom floor.  An important family heirloom ruined. Disappointed and upset about breaking this piece of family history I cried over the broken glass. How could I be so careless with something important to so many? 

Cracked into so many jagged pieces, repair and restoration seemed unlikely if not impossible. 

~       ~       ~
A few days later it is Christmas morning and the door to my teenage daughter's room is locked. "What are you doing? Please open up!" I say with my face smashed into the door. Shortly thereafter she appears, pride and triumph evident on her face. She walks toward me to gingerly place the dish, precariously pieced back together, into my hands. I gasp with surprise. It looks so much like it looked before it crashed to the floor. She beams with joy. 

Just as she sets the mainly restored lid of the dish back in its place on top, the entire thing crashes into pieces again in my hands, slicing my thumb. Pieces fall to the floor around our feet.  

Knowing the time and painstaking effort she invested into the repair I look at her face, assuming it is now her turn to weep.  She pauses, looks at the pieces both in my hands and on the floor below us. She takes a deep breath and in a matter of fact tone she says, "I'll fix it again. This is repairable. You just watch." She bends down to pick up what has fallen a second time and turns to walk away with it.

Cracked again into so many jagged pieces, repair and restoration seemed unlikely if not impossible. 

A number of days later, glue dried a second time, a few extra scars and missing pieces evident, she presents me with the dish once more.

I remember vividly the pain of crashing a second time. I was a divorced, single mom. At twenty-two years old I was trying desperately to piece my life back together after the second shattering. 

I said and thought things to myself. 
"I cannot be fixed." 
"Once was enough." 
"Who will love you now?"
"This is too much. Give up."
"You cannot be made whole."

Cracked into so many jagged pieces, repair and restoration seemed unlikely if not impossible. 

At the time I was carrying in my womb the unplanned little baby girl that would grow up to look me in the eye and say to me with confidence, "This is repairable, you just watch."

~       ~       ~

I am heavy with the awareness of the shattered, desperate, and broken world we all woke up to this morning ... Each of us cracked and in need of repair; each of us loving someone in need of the same, all longing for restoration, peace, and hope.
My prayer this New Year is that we find the courage to overcome the pain and shame of whatever piece of us has been shattered. As we enter into the new year may we each hear directly from Him what I know to be true: 'This is repairable.You just watch.'

(originally posted Dec. '12) 
Categories: Haitian blogs

Maternal Health Matters:

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 4, 2014 - 5:22 pm

Heartline Maternity Center: providing prenatal healthcare, labor and delivery services, 
love, and relationships in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  
To be a part of providing a small degre of hope: www.heartlineministries.org 
Categories: Haitian blogs

Prayer for 2014

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 3, 2014 - 11:57 am

-Minnie Louise Haskins-
Categories: Haitian blogs

A Girl’s Escape

New York Times on Haiti - Jan. 2, 2014 - 1:00 am
A week spent following a Haitian teenager turns up some shocking, and heartbreaking, details of life as an unpaid child laborer.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Rebecca's Joyful Update

Livesay Haiti - Jan. 1, 2014 - 12:34 am
Recently Rebecca (purposefully cropped out for the sake of her privacy) came to show Beth McHoul her first semester report card and proudly shared that she is using all of her gifts and is at the top of her class. Read about Rebecca's story of courage, healing, and grace below. Congratulations to Rebecca and thanks to each of you that support Heartline Ministries and allow these beautiful stories to unfold.

Hope RealizedAs we meet with women, some young and some not so young, we often hear stories that leave us speechless. The women of Haiti that we serve have often experienced pain, suffering, and trauma that we cannot easily imagine. One such young woman, "Rebecca" came to us early in her pregnancy.  As Rebecca opened up about her situation we grieved with her over what she had lost and what she still needed to face.  At the tender age of 15, Rebecca had been hurt.  An older man forced himself on Rebecca and assaulted her right in her neighborhood.
The community was upset, the police were notified, and in a rather unusual turn of events in Haiti, the assailant ended up fleeing Haiti to hide in the Bahamas in order to avoid the consequences of the rape. Soon after, Rebecca learned she was pregnant.  The day we heard her story we sat quietly listening to her resolve and her strength and her plan of action.  "It is not the baby's fault that I was forced. I will love this baby," said the incredibly mature young woman sitting with us.
Rebecca came to our program at the Maternity Center faithfully all throughout her pregnancy.  She missed only twice, but both times she let us know she had a counseling appointment and would be absent due to that important prior engagement.  We had the honor of helping Rebecca through hours of labor and eventually welcoming a baby boy into the world.
Instantly Rebecca proved that teen-mothers often have the ability to bond, love, and serve their children every bit as well as an older, more mature mother.  Rebecca's baby grew fast and became a very sturdy little guy. He looked even larger in his Momma's thin arms.
When Rebecca's son reached six months of age we hugged, talked and said our temporary goodbyes on the day she graduated from the program. Rebecca graduated in January of 2013 and asked about going back to school in the future.  We encouraged Rebecca to spend the next six months focusing on parenting her son.  We told her that if she would come back after his first birthday in July, we would discuss school for the 2013-2014 school year.
Just as expected, in July Rebecca came to see us. She held her giant one-year-old baby boy on her hip.  In October of this year she returned to school. Her mother is caring for her son while she presses on toward the goal of finishing high school.  This is no small task in Haiti.  The testing process is difficult and the work load heavy.  From the first day we met Rebecca, we knew she had a unique spirit, one that would allow her to fight the most difficult battles and not give up.  It was clear to us that sending her back to school was the right thing to do.
Heartline doesn't budget for these situations.  When we meet a pregnant woman we are thinking about the immediate health-related needs.  We are thinking about nutrition and vitamins and blood work. We are thinking about education throughout pregnancy and building relationships.  Later we are thinking about emotional support during the difficult hours of labor and delivery.  We are focused on breastfeeding and helping make the immediate connections between mom and baby.  Those things are the core of our program. They are the core of what we do. 
When we enter into these stories with women, we often end up knowing that our commitment to encourage, advocate, love, and serve does not end on graduation day.  
While we don't technically have a "send teen moms to high school" program and therefore had not budgeted for the more than $1,000 in fees to make it happen, we knew that Rebecca needed to be given this opportunity.  We will continue to ask God for direction in the unique situations that He brings to our Maternity Center, and we will continue to ask God to provide for the needs of the women through your generosity and love.

Categories: Haitian blogs

excelling in whimsicality and ALL the feels

Livesay Haiti - Dec. 31, 2013 - 12:03 am
The Randy & Carolyn Porter Family
In late July when we first landed in the USA for our 5.5 months here I wrote this:

"Yesterday someone was chatting with me and said, "When I was thinking about what I would do for my career, I chose to have a stable life for my kids." I listened carefully as he went on and described his path. I heard him and I knew that he was saying, "Dang woman - your life is unstable!" It is true. By comparison to some lifestyles, this is instability. 

I decided not to take his comment personally. It isn't personal. It is a choice. We made it and we recognize it can been seen as unconventional. I don't love the pain of transition for myself or my kids but I don't know that I want stability to be my most important value, either. 

I think there must be a nicer word for instability. Maybe we are unstable, but also, maybe we are just "excelling in whimsicality". 

~      ~       ~ 

Here we are, late December, packing up our Legos to head home. Once again excelling in whimsicality and the other less popular 'ity'  ... Insanity. 

We have a large room that looks like post-apocalyptic Shanghai right now. There are piles that mean different things.  One such pile is "the kids won't be okay with this not being packed so hide it under a sheet and pretend it is packed until a time you can smuggle it the heck out of this house" pile.

Praise the Lawd, my back is to it all for the moment. The longer I write the longer I can pretend it is not there. 

We are in full swing saying goodbye, see-ya-later-don't-know-when, etc. etc. We just spent 10 nights in the South Padre area with my (Tara's) family. It was made even more special because our (new to us) niece, Whitney, joined us for a few days.  (Back story here for those that don't know it.) It was really special for my parents to have everyone in one place for the first time in ever ever. 

The goodbyes are always weird for me because I have things I want to express but I am a shoddy verbal communicator. In my mind I know what I want to say. It would be something like this:  "Mom, Dad, Sister, Daughter, Friend: I wish you knew how much your friendship and love means to me every day. Sometimes, I feel like we're together even when we are apart because I carry you so close to my heart at all times. I am grateful for you and I loved being with you these X amount of days/months. I enjoyed knowing you were just a few miles or hours away. I dread the distance that will come between us again now and I fear things too. I fear losing you or not seeing you again here on this earth. I want us to be together again because together is so good.  Is it not grace that God gave us such a beautiful and loving group of friends and family? Thank you for having our backs and walking with us in the trench; we are bolstered by that."   

Problem is, this is what came out of my mouth: "I love you. Please don't die. Please don't wait too long to come visit."  Moving, huh?  I know everyone felt my deep feels with that stirring 14 word address. 

We think we kind of kicked they ay-uss of this America thing.  We accomplished things the way you all do. Lists, appointments, vaccinations, education, bill-paying, insurance, meetings, the whole gamut of big-people activities.  Even today I made some important calls to try to get Paige's life in order a little bit more before we bail on her. You've got to be proud. Or something. 

That stuff is all really good, but late this afternoon I went into the library to give them every book I found while cleaning and packing and said, "I need to know what we lost. Can you look at our fines and what books are still missing?"  The librarian said, "This is all of it and you owe me $1.80 in fines."  I'm not gonna lie.  As she turned her back to get us our change from the fine, Troy and I chest bumped right there in the library to celebrate. That's right people, we lost zero books.  Big moment indeed. I feel like we could be trusted with children or pets now.  

Speaking of pets, Chestnut (NutDog 3.0) is still all the rage at our house. I think we waited long enough to add him to our family that we might actually succeed with this one.  Our small dog record is quite dismal. It seems that a Cocker Spaniel named Farley (Chris Farley's namesake) was too mean and then later became the three legged dog of Troy's parents. The Pomeranian named Benny was possessed by evil spirits and had to go on to greener pastures to perform his weird shock-collar back flips. The big dogs have always done fine and have fit well. Small dogs haven't been our specialty -- until now.  I think this little dude is gonna make it as a Livesay. It wil be much easier for him to make it if we get the papers back in our hands in time to allow him on the dumb airplane. Time will tell, as per usual we cut it very close and they "think" they can do it in time. I am thinking there is wisdom in waiting to claim victory over the Chestnut situation at this point. When a letter is neeed from a government agency during a holiday week, don't count your ShihTzu 'till it is hatched. That has not made it onto any official idiom lists, but I am thinking it will eventually be there. Feel free to use. 

What else?  Well ... We got a two page hand-written note from Isaac with $41 taped inside. He left it in Troy's drawer when he went with my Dad early for the Christmas getaway.  Troy found it a few days after Isaac left.  We don't do very much for gifts at Christmas - Isaac knows this of course.  That did not stop him from writing a convincing plea.   (Don't bother feeling judged or condemned - we don't make rules about things for you and we don't think your life is our business -- please - have your gifts and open them too!)

To Dad From Ike - 
What I would like for Christmas is a lego set called Craggers command ship. It has 609 pieces and comes with 6 minifigures (lego people). It is a "lego legends of Chima " themed lego. The ship that it comes with has two red cockpits which are supposed to be Croc eyes and then it has a big croc jaw at the front. Oh, the ship has lots of olive green. It also has 2 yellow jetskis. animal warriors are 3 crocs named Cragger, Crominus, and Crooler. Two lions named Leonidas and Lennox and last but not least a raven named rawzom. It is lego set 70006. The ages recommended for it is 8-14. If you are wondering about how we would bring it back to Haiti, here is how: I'd throw away the box and only bring the bags that the pieces are packaged in - if you don't want me to start building it right away which I would totally be fine with. Besides, I'd love to have a lego to build especially one with crocs in it, oh and would totally share with Noah. After all, he did use some money of his on my J.D.C.C. short for Jedi Defender Class Cruiser. Love you and may God be with you in whatever it is you will do next. 

P.S. You know the bags that will have a big black number on it and they are see through? For example my Spidey set had 5 of them inside and they are not too big. PPS If I have to leave any legos behind, I know which ones I'll leave. Here some money to boost you on that gift I'd like. PPPS- The minifigures are just like human legos but with animal stuff added. For example my croc stands up like a human but it looks like a croc. like these two things" ... 
(there was an arrow pointing down to two cut out pictures from a lego catalog showing us what standing up animals look like). 

So, of course another 609 pieces (including Cragger, Crominus, and Crooler) are headed to an island in the Caribbean very soon.

~      ~      ~   

People always ask us how long we'll stay in Haiti.  We always say, "Don't know. Ask us again in a year." Some really cool things have happened in the last several days. We have a real sense of peace that we're on the right path heading mapless into God's vast goodness and grace. Five years ago I might have said something much more confident or pompy sounding than that. I have lost some of my "this is God's plan" kind of talk because I don't usually feel that I know God's plan and I feel a little lot bit squirmy claiming that.  What I am trying to say is, there have been beautiful confirmations for us that our time in Haiti is not finished and that our family can return feeling quite certain it is where we need to be right now. The future is unknowable and we don't pretend otherwise. 

I am now stalling. It's becoming obvious to Troy. I am thinking of all the things I'd like to write out for posterity's sake.  I'd like to gripe about the things little kids think you should put in a bag and bring to Haiti. (Shells, rocks, rotten pumpkins)  I'd like to (lovingly) mock the hilarious things they said today as we packed. The thing is, a luggage scale and mounds of crap await me. I'll have to mock my children later. Back to the piles.

The best way to wrap this up, a pearl of wisdom from Lydia as we drove through the dark Texas night...

"I am sad and I am happy... I don't know what I should more feel."

Lydia, Annie, and Phoebe together again last week 

Next posts: 1. An awesome update on Rebecca, the teen Mama from Heartline and 2. The two very WEIRDEST days of 2013 and all the insulin, vomit, and drama that went with them. Isaac wrote too, will try to publish it soon. 

Categories: Haitian blogs

Haiti Liberte: Drones and Slavery

HaitiAnalysis - Dec. 30, 2013 - 9:48 pm

by Peter Linebaugh (Haiti Liberte)
DroneAdventures.org is a Swiss “non-profit” organization that in April 2013 sent two representatives to Haiti to work with a couple “non-profits” called Open Street Map and International Organization for Migration. For six days with three drones and several lap-top computers these “drone adventurers” mapped 1) shanty towns in Port au Prince to count the number of tents as a first step in making a census and organizing “infrastructure,” 2) river beds to simulate water flow for future flood control, and 3) the University of Limonade “to help promote the school for the next generation of youth in Haiti.”            These drone promoters also made a cheerful video with a happy sound track, pretty pictures of the blue sky, and scores of children running after these pied pipers launching their falcon-like drones as if the children too could fly as easily out of the man-made disasters of life.

            “Have you ever wondered how important it is to have detailed and up-to-date maps of a territory?” the drone promoters ask. Not only do we know they are important, we know enough to view them with suspicion. Historically, cartography developed in Europe for military, commercial, and exploitive purposes. “There is a continuous need for up-to-date imagery for aid distribution, reconstruction, disaster mitigation … the list goes on.”  Indeed the list does go on, directly to bombing. These things are not for our own good, though every effort is made to start out that way.            The map depends on the bird’s-eye view, or the perspective from above. This viewpoint gave not only amusement but the illusion of omniscience which heretofore in European history had been reserved exclusively to the European divinities. The bird’s-eye view also inspired the Romantic movement of Europe. The viewpoint keeps us gaping upwards into the sky, and ignoring everything around us. The viewpoint initiates the class analysis and profound vision of Volney’s Ruins (1792) and Shelley’s Queen Mab (1812).            We have seen something like this before, with the origin of the bird’s-eye view. Consider the great French philosopher, Condorcet, or consider the brilliant American bourgeois, Benjamin Franklin. They both welcomed the first hot-air balloons on 11 September 1783 (oh, date of terror and dread!) which made the viewpoint possible. They noted the combination of present amusement and potential power of the balloon. A decade later the balloons were manned for military observation in the French wars against Austria. They are the ancestors of the dirigible, the airplane, (the bomber and the fighter), the rocket, and now the drone. The “bird’s-eye view,” and the aerial machines it makes possible, led directly to Guernica and Hiroshima.            Horace Walpole, the English novelist wrote in 1783 as the first balloon ominously ascended over the countryside, “the wicked wit of man always studies to apply the results of talents to enslaving, destroying, or cheating his fellow creatures.”  We could not express the essential contradiction better:  technology and slavery went hand in hand.            Within a year in Haiti, the first balloons went up on the Gallifet plantations at Acul and the Plaine du Nord. Here 800 slaves producing riches for Europe were managed by Odelucq, the man responsible for the balloon launch, indeed the first flight in America. What did the slaves think? Did they stare up into the blue sky with wide eyes and gaping mouths?  Moreau, the contemporary scholar, provides the answer, “black spectators did not allow themselves to cry out over the insatiable passion of man to submit nature to his power.”              “The wicked wit of man” belonged to the European bourgeoisie not the black spectators.  “How can we make a lot of sugar when we work only 16 hours [a day]?” asked Odelucq.  Only by consuming men and animals, he answered himself.            The men and women would not be consumed so easily. They taught the children not to run after false gods or to Europeans preaching technological salvation. The spiritual, military, and social leaders of the slaves appealed to African sky-gods who answered with thunder and lightening on the historic night of 23 August 1791 in the Bois Caïman, thus initiating the first successful slave revolt in the history of the world. It began on the same plantations which had been Odelucq’s proving grounds. The sky above Le Cap turned dark with the smoke of burning plantations. Odelucq was among the first of the oppressors to pay with his life. Surveillance was answered by sousveillance!            The drones which today indiscriminately kill men, women and children in Pakistan and Yemen appeared first in the history of the technology as children’s toys, not weapons. Beware, the cunning eye of the master class is on you!

Peter Linebaugh is a historian at the University of Toledo and the author of the forthcoming “Stop Thief: The Commons, Resistance and Enclosure.”
Categories: Haitian blogs

Turks and Caicos Islands: 18 Believed to Be Migrants From Haiti Drown

New York Times on Haiti - Dec. 26, 2013 - 1:00 am
Eighteen people believed to be migrants from Haiti died Wednesday when their overloaded sailboat overturned as it was being escorted to shore in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

A droite du couple présidentiel, l'artiste Rodrigue Milien et le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot). A gauche, le musicien Raoul Guillaume, la Ministre de la Culture, Mme Josette Darguste, et le Dr Didier Armand, représentant de Mimi Barthélémy.

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

Vue partielle de l'assistance à la cérémonie de remise de décoratiion au Palais National

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

Le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot), Sociologue et Ethnologue, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Grand Officier pour sa contribution au développement communautaire

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

Photo souvenir entre le récipiendaire et le Chef de l'Etat

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

M. Raoul Guillaume, premier compositeur de chants de Noël et grand Mapou de la musique haïtienne, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Chevalier pour sa constance dans le milieu musical.

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

Photo souvenir entre le Président de la République et le Maestro Raoul Guillaume

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

D'importantes personnalités ont pris part à la cérémonie de remise de décoration

Categories: Haitian blogs