We’re coming off a busy weekend, but it was great!
Ryan and Olivia share a birthday on the 19th, so we were already planning to head out to Kaliko to meet up with some friends on Saturday afternoon for a swim, then return home for family birthday supper and cake. We also knew that sometime in the morning a group of guys from the US were coming by to see what we do because they were interested in starting a project in another part of the country.
On Friday afternoon I got a call from the Run for Life team to see if our dorms would be free for a couple of nights. We were happy to be able to host them.
Run for Life is a fundraising project for Heartline Ministries – the organization that we adopted Olivia through. We love Heartline and everything they do. They don’t do adoptions any more because things were getting really hard to process, and they decided they wanted to get to the root of the issue and work with pregnant moms to provide better maternal health so that mom’s weren’t dying during delivery. Infant and maternal death rates in Haiti are very high due to poor maternal health and access to safe birthing. Many women deliver alone in their homes. Some have the help of a friend or family member. Those that can afford it go to the hospital, but are often treated poorly and not given the care they need or deserve.
Heartline, in the past couple of years, has worked very hard at using their current facilities to develop a maternity center. The maternity center takes a limited number of women in various stages of pregnancy into their program and provides them with fabulous prenatal care and education where they learn about everything from birth control to nutrition to domestic abuse. Each week the women come for a class and a meal. They build relationships. When it’s time to deliver the ladies in their program can come to the maternity center to deliver with their mid-wives that have been working with them since they came into the program. In cases where a c-section is needed Heartline will transport them to a hospital that has space, advocate on their behalf and transport them after delivery and care for them in their post-partum wing if needed. For most of the women in the program this type of care is a first and there is a lot of trust that is built up over the time before they deliver. After delivery the women are put into a six month early childhood education program where they come once a week for more education about how to care for young children, nutrition, breast feeding etc. They have this whole community of new moms that establish relationships with other new moms in a way that’s not normal here. It’s amazing.
Their current facilities are small and they have a goal of building a bigger facility a few miles away from where they are now. The cool thing? They have no plans to shut down the current site when the new one opens, but rather to have two centers so they can serve more women! They already have the land purchased for the new facility and are raising funds for development. The new place will have 4 delivery rooms, an OR so they can do c-sections there and never have to transport again through Port Au Prince and leave a woman at a hospital where she’ll get substandard care. There is an education wing in the plans and a post-partum wing. It’s amazing!
That’s where Run for Life comes in. Barry McDonald is a pretty regular guy who had a vision to run for the women of Haiti. Not just a little run. He’s running 315 miles across Haiti in 12 days. That’s a FULL marathon every day. It’s insane. But he’s doing it. In fact, he’s more than halfway done. As we got to know everyone this weekend I learned that before he start training he was out of shape and not a regular runner. I had assumed that he was one of those guys that ran marathons for fun, but no. This is all new to him.
I would encourage you to go check out the Run for Life website. Barry is super humble and doesn’t want any of the focus to be on him, but rather on Heartline and what they’re doing here in Haiti. The truth is though, what he’s doing is amazing. I would love for you to help spread the word, to help Heartline. You can find the facebook page through the link on the website or at Run for Life Haiti. I would love to ask another favor from anyone that has connections to any sort of media outlet – radio, tv, or print. Would you shake some trees and tell people about this? You can connect with the team on facebook or through the website if you have people interested in talking with Barry about the run.
And most of all, pray for Barry, the support team and everyone at Heartline working with these precious mamas!
Back to the birthday fun… Olivia got a new bike for her birthday and has been zooming around the yard for the last two days. Even before school this morning she got some biking time in. Chris has already had to raise her training wheels a bit so she could zoom through the grass. I’m sure it’s just going to be a matter of time before the training wheels come off. And, just a matter of time before we have to find some sort of bike or tricycle for Alex because he tried to ride Thony’s bike on Saturday morning, not wanting to be left out. Thony is a full grown adult…
We had fun swimming, and after dinner and cake and singing we decided to have some fun with old flares and went down on the beach with everyone to shoot them off over the water. Since Ryan was the birthday boy we let him do the honors. We figured if there was any sort of emergency we were covered – Dokte Jen was in the house and she’s an ER doc back in the US :)
On Sunday morning John, the director of Heartline, who we worked with directly when we did our adoption, and our friend Troy who also works with Heartline, came out and we all did church on the deck. It was relaxing and wonderful.
It was a great weekend!