Well…not exactly. But, we decided it was a little like that –  as in a little more than 9 months we will be getting two newly certified midwives on Lagonave!

On January 15th school began for two of our Community Healthcare Workers, Vilana Cherissaint (left) of Nouvelle Cite’ and Soisilia Bertand(right) of Gros Mangle.  They were the two women who made the highest grades on the entrance exam and they will be attending the midwifery school run by Midwives for Haiti in Hinche, Haiti. They will return to us in the fall as certified midwives according to the highest standards of the World Health Organization. As far as we know they will be the first two trained and certified midwives on Lagonave.

Vilana, a 38 year old mother of two, lives in Nouvelle Cite near the Bill Rice Clinic. She has been delivering babies for the last 3 years. When asked how she came to deliver babies she said, “When you are a Community Healthcare Worker your neighbors call you when someone goes into labor.”  She has a 12 year old daughter and a 10 year old son who will remain on Lagonave with family while Vilana gets her training.

Soisilia, a 33 year old woman has no children of her own, but looks forward to returning and helping the women of the island have good and safe care during pregnancy and delivery. New to the Community Healthcare group she admitted to having studied her new book “Where There Is No Doctor” and has already assisted Vilana in several deliveries. From the looks of her test score she has been spending a lot of time studying!

Both women were passionate about having the opportunity to become qualified midwives and having the chance to teach and practice their skills upon their return in October.

Maternal care has been designated as the number one problem in healthcare on the island. Distance, rough terrain and costs keep women from getting the pre-natal care they need.  During interviews last fall it was clear that the women were well educated on the problems that contribute to maternal deaths, but stated that access to care was the biggest roadblock to safe deliveries. For the last couple of years there has been research done on what it would take to establish the Bill Rice Clinic as a hub for good maternal and child care.

We now believe that with these two women trained in midwifery and able to work with the CHW program we can extend the reach of routine pre-natal care into the communities and have a center for treating the more complicated aspects of pregnancy at the Bill Rice Clinic.

So, like “expecting parents” everywhere, the partnership now has the challenge of preparing for this arrival. A team is in place, Dr. Jim Ingvoldstad, Jennell Charles and Deborah Griffin are working on a way to collaborate with other partners and NGOs on the island to have the framework of a plan in place when the women return.  We welcome anyone who is interested in working with us, anyone who would like to donate to the costs or anyone who may know of funding sources that might fit this project.

As we move into a plan for addressing this urgent problem we are reminded of the Haitian proverb:

Les pwa fe viv. Hope makes one live.