On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from June 2008.
The Women’s Program of Heartline Haiti is all about teaching women to care for their babies and find industry and self-care for themselves. They assist in prenatal and parenting classes, and teach women a trade, like sewing or crocheting purses. Here is a story about one of the women in their program:
Today was one of those days when the women’s program did its job. It worked. I don’t know how the end result will turn out but I saw women surrounding one of their own and coming to her aid with what they have learned. In our program we have two groups. Prenatal; and then Child Development after the baby is born. A young girl Chelor (pronounced She-Love) has been coming on and off since she was pregnant. She lives in a hostile situation where she is clearly not welcome, neither is her baby. Her breast feeding efforts have not been going well and they claim her baby is cursed. She wants to go back to the village because she has no where else to go.Chelor is just a young girl who does not know how to be a mom and does not do well processing the information we give her. Her baby, Love Kendy, has gained little weight since his birth three months ago and he is failing to thrive. Everyone is frustrated. We try encouraging her, showing her how to hold the baby and so on. She is not getting it and he is not getting the milk he needs to thrive.
Today was heartbreaking. She would put him to the breast for just seconds, he would fuss, she would be agitated, he would cry. They just weren’t a team – weren’t working together for the milk to flow.Several experienced breast feeding moms gathered around Chelor and helped her position the baby. It wasn’t working. Another mom took the baby, put him to her breast and fed him. For a long time. It may be the only real meal the child has received. Ever. Wet-nursing mom showed Chelor how effortless and stress free this should be. All moms were giving opinion, encouragement and we gathered around Chelor to pray God’s protection around her.
This young girl is steeped in superstition, believes in curses, is too stressed out to feed her baby who is also stressed and pulling away from her. It is a dire situation. I hope and pray we helped her today. I cried because of how bad Chelor’s situation is and I also cried because I saw women gather around her and function as a women’s group – all helping another hurting woman. That’s how this program is supposed to function. Women learn valuable information and life skills and pass it on to other women.
Women in Haiti are often denied basic learning and growing opportunities. They are stuck in superstition and misinformation. Often babies die because a mom is missing basic care-giving skills. We are seeking to change this woman by woman week by week. Pray for Chelor and Love Kendy!
Perhaps this story of women gathering around each other can inspire us to gather around other women of the world and share our own resources. If you would like to hear more about how this program changes the lives of women, or if you would like to donate toward their efforts, check out Heartline Haiti’s