For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to travel to other countries and volunteer as a nurse. I am so glad I was able to do this for the very first time with Midwives for Haiti. This organization gave me the chance and an opportunity that I will never forget.
I am so happy that I was able to go with my coworker, Claire. I do not think I would of been able to do it myself. Claire and I were welcomed in the house by the staff with open arms. We really did feel like family. I have to say I was excited but nervous to see what they had planned for us for the week as I truly did not know what to expect. Little did I know that I would be feeling many emotions all at the same time. I went from being surprised to overwhelmed to excited to nervous throughout the entire week. In Haiti, It is often too difficult to understand the reality of childbirth in an under- resourced country. Most of the time it is a fight for survival, more critical than joyous. The limited supply of medical supplies and medication were daunting. No running water and scattery electricity. At times I was a little frustrated because here I am in a C-Section and I am asking everyone in the operating room during the surgery “Where does the baby go after delivery?” and “What if the baby needs resuscitation?” The baby comes out and I knew it was going to need some extra care. I’m thinking “Oh dear! Where am i going to lay this baby?” The doctor hands me the baby and someone escorts me to a completely different room down the hall so I run. I knew I needed at least a bulb syringe or an ambu-bag. I was so thankful they were able to give me an ambu-bag because the baby did indeed require resuscitation for a few minutes. That baby needed me in that moment. But then there was no oxygen. They have very limited supply of blood and oxygen that they so desperately need to save some of these mothers and babies. These women are strong. I often wondered what they were thinking. I truly wondered. The challenges that they face are incomprehensible.
For most of these women there is no such thing as prenatal care. Midwives for Haiti does an excellent job to try to stop this. They try so hard to give these women a chance. A chance to survive. These women walk hours just to receive care with hopes that their lives will be saved. They get rides in motorcycles in dirt and bumpy roads and hope that they will make it in time to the hospital. My heart breaks.
But then I have hope. I have hope that the mothers will receive the care they deserve and that access to care will get better with time. I learned that time is valuable when it comes to saving a life. At this point it’s all about survival. Too little or too late are the reasons these women are dying and for me it is still hard to fathom. But even after all of this, I still have hope.
I was able to see just a glimpse of what these women go through in such conditions. I learned that these women are strong because they have no choice not to be. They are able to do as much as they can with the little they have and keep it moving. I learned that you never know what you are capable of doing until you are placed into a situation where you have no choice but to do it. And for that, I am forever grateful.
Thank you Midwives for Haiti for the work that you are doing. You all are saving lives everyday.
Thank you One Nurse at a Time for helping me to be able to go on my very first medical mission trip. Words are not enough to thank you.
-As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself and one for helping others. -Maya Angelou