What I needed was a change of scenery. And today I got it. I took a break from my classroom and went to spend the day with my friend Beth. An interest of mine that I haven't written about much here is helping women breastfeed. I am completely sold on how wonderful breastfeeding is for both mother and baby. Today I got to talk about that to a group of women who will soon have babies. I also helped with the charts for a series of prenatal exams, and interpreted for a post-partum checkup on a mom with a three day old baby. And Beth and I got to talk and reconnect. Tears were shed.
The women get a nutritious meal and vitamins to take home. Many of the women were gently scolded in their prenatal exams because they had actually lost weight since their last appointment. Is it because there is no food, or because they have no appetite? Most said the latter. Most also answered "yes" when I asked them if they were sleeping in a tent. The combination of pregnancy and the stifling heat in a crowded tent could definitely suppress appetite.
A mural in the birth center.
Women begin to gather for the meeting.
I started my class by asking the ladies what a baby needs. If I had been teaching this to parents with more resources, I would have used photos from baby magazines of all the "must-haves." These women have more modest expectations. They mentioned things like a mosquito net and diapers. Nobody suggested an Exersaucer or a Baby Mozart DVD. After our brainstorming session we talked about how a baby's greatest need is for his mother. This is true for babies born into rich homes and poor homes, mansions and tents. A baby needs to be close to his mother and God has given her the perfect food to feed him. We talked about colostrum, the first milk, and how it is full of antibodies and exactly what the baby needs in his early hours and days. The challenge is to keep these women well-fed so that they can nourish their babies. I am overwhelmed by the knowledge of how easy it was for me to mother my babies compared with the challenges these women face. And yet there is hope in seeing the fat, healthy baby being carried around by one of the teen moms in the program, a girl who came to the clinic after the earthquake and has never really left.
I also got to see the post-earthquake field hospital that I've been reading about since I left Haiti in January. It's mostly dismantled; the sign says "There's no clinic any more. Thank you."
Here's a wall inside the former hospital.
Beth told me that she is honored and humbled to know the patients from the hospital, people who lost family members and houses and parts of their own bodies, and still sang praises to God each evening. I am honored and humbled to know Beth and others who worked around the clock to help. Out of these terrible circumstances came a true picture of God's kingdom at work.
5 hours ago