Greetings as spring begins to arrive with its promise of new life. It also reminds me of the arrival of my own two children, now grown with children of their own. Do you have such memories too? New life is so special.
It’s different in many parts of the world. Birth often comes with the threat of death for mothers and babies. It is a truly vulnerable, scary time. Medical Ambassadors is working to prepare parents for safer births by bringing precious knowledge to local folks who can pass it along to the expectant families around them.
Let me share with you a report that came to me from “PH,” our International Coordinator for Women’s Health. (I can’t name her because of the dangerous places where she travels.) She had just returned from a trip to Haiti.
“Haiti is one of many places where Women’s Cycle of Life (called Family Cycle of Life there) has made a difference. An exuberant group of trainers visit impoverished homes in remote mountain communities, sharing physical, spiritual and relational capable healing with families.
“Medical Ambassadors of Haiti has provided training to traditional birth attendants (TBA’s). The few hospitals and clinics in Haiti are often distant. In fact a hospital that can perform a Cesarean delivery may be hours away. Traditional birth attendants have served isolated villages for generations. With minimal training and resources, these dedicated people can anticipate and prevent many disasters for people who usually cannot get to far-away clinics. Some of these TBA’s don’t read or write but they passionately serve their communities, day and night.
“MAI’s Regional Coordinator, Dr. Bibiana MacLeod was asked to provide essential training for some of Haiti’s TBA’s. In 2016 she recruited a team of health professionals (including me), supported by Community Health Evangelism (CHE) workers. We met with a lead group of these Haitian TBA’s in September, and made plans to train 270 others in the area in future visits.
“We were surprised that about half of these TBA’s are men. I asked one why he became a birth attendant. His answer was, “This is what my father did.”
“In the middle of our training week a crisis occurred – not part of our plan. I was summoned by a TBA to help a woman who had given birth during the night. Etienne had no money to pay the two birth attendants, nor items to barter, but these wonderful women had helped her anyway. We learned the back story at the home of her father, a disabled widower. It was a saga of tragedies. Etienne’s father had barely survived cholera the previous year. Her husband had not returned home from work one day, during the pregnancy. He was found days later, dead at the side of the road, of unknown cause. Etienne was devastated and, in her anguish, went to a hospital in the capitol city for psychological help. When she returned home, her house had been robbed – stripped of its contents. She had no resources so she sought refuge with her struggling father.
“The delivery had gone badly. We found Etienne weak from blood loss at delivery and in need of sutures to stop persistent bleeding. Although her newborn son, cuddled in a crocheted blanket, appeared to be vigorous, Etienne needed care that we weren’t prepared to provide in her father’s sod home. Osse, who leads Haiti CHE, arranged for transport to the hospital. I rode on Osse’s motorcycle to meet Etienne.
“While an IV infused in Etienne’s arm, I sutured. How strange for me, as a nurse-midwife, to do this in a hospital where no one knew my name – no paperwork or credentialing required! Afterward, Etienne stayed in the hospital, receiving iron, rest, and $25 from a friend to pay her hospital bill.
“Along with Madame Grimard, the leader of Haiti Family Cycle of Life, I visited Etienne and her son at home a few days later. This time we saw a bright smile, thriving mother and newborn, and a happy, though frail grandpa. Now that they clearly could see how God had provided for them, Madame shared the truth of God’s love and hope with this little family.
“Thank you for your part in helping us bring the hope of Jesus to those in such great need. We so want them to know God’s great love. Your prayers and support make a difference in precious lives!”
What a wonderful story! Normally, MAI refers to others when curative care is needed but this time there were no others. We thank God that this MAI leader had exactly the training needed. However, if the TBA had not been trained to recognize trouble, Etienne would have died. We find that simple training makes a huge difference to more people over the long haul than one-time heroic interventions.
So how can you be involved? The TBA training could not have happened without the generous partnership of people like you. The other 270 TBA’s will not be trained or receive the encouraging follow up they need without Haiti’s Family Cycle of life program. Voodoo practices will continue to hide God’s light if people do not experience God’s real love.
Is Jesus calling you to partner with MAI and CHE Family Cycle of Life in Haiti in prayer, volunteer time, or financial support? MAI could be the tool God is calling you to use. Please listen to what God says, and then act boldly in obedience.
I praise God that he is the one who does the calling.
John Payne MD
We appreciate your prayer and financial support. Without you as a member of the team, this ministry would not be possible.