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Hello, My name is Jenn.
I am a nurse, a midwife and an educator. I am passionate about safe and healthy Birth. I am lucky to have been born in a time and place where safe birth was not only an option but an expectation for my pregnancies Living in the United States we are lucky; we have reasonably safe and accessible healthy care options. Sure it has its problems and it is nowhere near perfect, but it is so much better than what others have access to.
I think it is far too easy in our first world atmosphere to be unaware of what reality is like for families in developing nations. We aren’t being selfish or ignoring the world, we’re just busy and our lives our full and we are simply unaware. We know it’s bad, but I don’t think most people know how bad it really is. I know I was guilty of all of this. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I was just living my life, in my bubble. But then a midwife friend of mine went to Haiti. She posted pictures and told stories of what she was seeing and doing. I got pulled into her journey. She had to text me one night for help; a baby was dying. She needed to know how to make the medicine the baby needed because they didn’t have it. And she needed to know how to give it. She was a midwife not a NICU nurse. I reached out to a pharmacist and pediatrician I knew for help, and we texted back and forth for hours all in a vain effort to save a life. Ultimately we failed. Ultimately there really was nothing we could do. But I was hooked. That was the moment I knew I needed to be more involved than reading a blog and being curious.
My friend was there with a group called Midwives for Haiti, an American non-profit that teaches local women to become skilled birth attendants. What greater gift is there than to pass on knowledge? Money buys supplies and volunteering helps in the moment, but teaching, that lasts forever. That’s the gift I wanted to give. I decided before my friend ever got home, that I had to go too.
Now I’m going to go to Haiti. I am going to deliver babies in conditions that are only something I could imagine. There will be times without electricity, without running water. We may be transporting patients via pick up trucks from far away villages. I get to be part of this amazing effort to make birth safe. I get to teach other women how to make birth safe. I couldn’t imagine a higher calling, a more fulfilling life mission.
There is so much about this project that excites me, that I have undying amounts of passion for. I am going to help save mothers, I am going to help save babies, and I am going to empower and educate women.
Teaching is an awesome thing to be able to do, but I can do more. I have a brilliant group of local filmmakers who have partnered with me to show what it is like to live and birth in Haiti. . We want you to experience what life is like when you don’t have a fancy hospital, and see what it is like to work in the dark and without water. To live the experience of women and midwives as they face emergencies and the unknown with limited resource. Feel what we feel, see what we see, and overcome the challenges with us.
What does safe birth mean for Haitian women? It means regular and routine prenatal care preformed by someone trained to recognize danger signs. This will get women who are experiencing complications into advanced medical care more quickly. And that, that my friends, will save lives. Women in Haiti are dying, that’s right DYING from preventable complications of pregnancy. And when mom’s die, their babies die and their older children are left motherless. Those children will spend their life in orphanages. They may or may not be educated. They don’t really have anyone in their corner rooting for them, hoping for them, pushing for them so how are they going to become the change agent that builds up their communities and pulls Haiti out of poverty. These children need mothers, these communities need strong families. This country needs to save its women and right now they are at a point where they need some help to do it. I can help. I have to help. Midwives for Haiti is already helping. They are saving lives every day and teaching women to save countless more.
Additionally I get to share my skills developed as a NICU nurse with them to help them learn basic neonatal resuscitation and care. I can teach basic life saving principles. When my friend went to Haiti, she said that often when infants are born nonresponsive little is done to save them. In the united states about 10 percent of all babies need some help to get going, a few breaths a little oxygen maybe some feeding or blood sugar support, these are things easily taught and relatively cheaply done. I am excited to leave behind the skills to save some infant lives, to prevent mourning and loss for families and communities.
Finally and perhaps the most cool and inspiring thing I am doing is empowering women. Haitian women often do not work; they are home with their families. There aren’t a ton of jobs in Haiti and those that do exist are typically done by men. However the business of birthing babies is typically attended to by women. Teaching women to be midwives gives them a skill in which they are serving their community and bringing home a paycheck to support their family. Making them independent and strong. How amazing is that to be able to make a woman independent, to bring a family out of poverty? A woman that has a job, has money. That money is poured back into her community strengthening her local economy.
Me, one woman, joining with others who have the same passion; saving lives, teaching others to save lives, giving women skills and knowledge to be independent and the possibility to better their community. One woman at a time, bettering her communities, each community getting stronger and healthier which leads to a nation getting stronger, more stable and healthier. Less government money spent on orphans, on heath care for preventable pregnancy complications, on the sick women or infants simply because we gave our time.
I hope you are inspired to help us bring this story to the world. I hope that this project speaks to you and is something you want to help us with. This is an amazing story. A project that will change everyone involved and hopefully all of those who see it. Be part of my journey. Alone we are incapable of doing this. I am one woman who can go and teach, but it is going to take a community of likeminded and passionate people to make a brilliant beautiful story to show the world. Please join our community, join our team and make this mission a reality!!! Thank you so much for being a part of our journey!!!
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A article and interview with KSKA: An Alaskan Midwife in Haiti
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