Post written by Graham Barbour ’17 and Kara Kaufman ’19 to recount June 16, 2016:
As our week in Hinche drew to a close, we prepared to return to Port-au-Prince with a stop at the new Midwives for Haiti birthing center in Cabestor. As we crammed into the van for the final time, we could not help but feel a sense of nostalgia, knowing that at least for the seniors and Mr. Boland, we would most likely never return to Hinche, with its potholed roads bustling with life, and Clory, with its hills dotted with palms and flame trees, and the Midwives for Haiti porch which witnessed hours of late night card games played in mostly hushed tones.
Winding our way through the switchback mountain roads was at once a warming and saddening experience— as we recognized familiar towns and regions from the previous trips but at the same time were forced to accept that we’ll probably never see them again.
After a couple hours of driving, we arrived at the Carrie Wortham Birthing Center, a newly opened birthing center named in memory of Carrie Wortham, an American who dedicated her life to helping the underserved women of the Central Plateau; she worked for Midwives for Haiti in-country a few years ago and was a large presence during our first two visits in 2012 and 2013. As we toured the facility, we were astonished to learn that since its opening in November of 2015, the clinic has already helped to deliver 75 children. For deliveries that required special care, mothers were sent to the PIH/ZL/Haitian government hospital in Mirebalais. Even more surprising was that even after the child is born, the clinic continues to help care for the child until six months of age. Although it was sad that Carrie couldn’t see the completion of such an impactful facility, it was powerful to see the extent of the legacy she left in Haiti.
We devoured our delicious, traditional Haitian lunch at the birthing center while watching an adorable puppy and a tiny kitten play (both of which we were not able to play with; Mr. Boland’s order.). Having prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the cramped sauna that was our means of transportation, we piled into the van for another two hours until we reached the Operation Blessing, International house in Port-au-Prince where we had stayed at the first night of our trip. Relieved to stretch our limbs, most of us went straight to our rooms and took the naps of our lives. The rest of the evening was spent all together. Dinner consisted of chicken, salad, and rice with the familiar Haitian twist that we have all gotten to know and love over the last week. We also showed each other the pictures we had taken of other people sleeping during the four-hour car ride. The tired bunch all gathered on the dusty roof of the house, looking over the city of Port-au-Prince. That night, there was a certain and almost unexpected peace I felt. The city seemed so small, the problems so manageable, and the people so unbreakable. For the ‘17s, they reflected on the last three years in the program and previous trips. This is very likely their last glimpse of Haiti as a cohort; yet, for the ‘19s this is just the beginning. I reflected on everything I had seen and felt throughout the entire experience: shock, joy, grief, passion, and now this renewed sense of empowerment. I would like to show those who haved funded the projects such as Luci lights, biosand water filters, and clean cookstoves the impact they really do have. While it substantially improves the quality of life, seeing the positive mental impacts they have in-person was the game changer for me. Suddenly, it becomes more than just money and materials and distribution; it becomes bigger than any one person. Giving people hope for the future is the biggest takeaway I have from this trip. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I learned more about global health and myself than I ever imagined possible.