The Midwives and Women of Haiti
Seeing the picture of the Shada slum midwives on the Fish4Hope Facebook page brought back strong memories of births that nearly cost two women their lives. However, they were blessed to be in the United States and to have quality medical care ready to save them and their children. Meg Hanrahan wanted to do something to help these midwives and the women and children they served. Melinda Engelbrektsson had been to the Shada slum and could not imagine the conditions under which the women gave birth. Armed with lists of needs from Dr. Maklin and Madam Bwa, they began to research how they could help and what could make a big impact but at a small cost.
Why Birthing Kits?
A key element lacking in the birthing process for the women of Haiti is a clen, safe delivery. According to a Save the Children 2010 paper titled, “Clean Birth Kits – Potential to Deliver?”. “(F)or centuries, a clean birth has been recognized as essential to the health and survival of both mothers and newborns. Nevertheless, each year an estimated 1 million newborns and mothers will die from infections soon after birth.” What is even more shocking is that to provide a woman a clean, safe delivery costs less than $2. Less than a cup of coffee.
Stella Marina was founded to help the midwives and the women and children of Haiti and here was an easy, cheap way to do it. With initial donations from the Women of Nativity and the Knights of Columbus, Stella Marina began its mission with 700 clean birthing kits that were put together by over 70 volunteers. These kits were shipped to Haiti by Food For The Poor, Inc., which has worked with Church of the Nativity’s Operation Starfish® program for more than 15 years. The kits will be used by Dr. Eugene Maklin and Madam Bwa and her team of midwives in the Shada slum.
An additional partner in this effort is the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti. Bishop Oge Beauvoir, after news of the kits’ shipment, said ” We are very excited to receive this special donation from Nativity and . . . (are) ready to deliver the birthkits to Dr. Maklin and Madam Bwa. God bless you all for your amazing support in the Life of our brothers and sisters in the Northern Region of Haiti.
What began as an idea from a picture had turned into a new mission under Operation Starfish and embodied what Father Richard Martin had started during Lent in 1998. While Stella Marina may not save every child in Haiti, as the Starfish story ending says:
“We made a difference for that one.”