I was five months pregnant when I left Cross Catholic Outreach’s branch office in Port-au-Prince, hopped on a small, prop plane and flew to a gravel airstrip in Jérémie, a coastal town in southern Haiti. I’d gone there to visit our long-time partners the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF), a ministry providing comprehensive medical care to thousands of people throughout this region.
Once the plane landed, I jumped in a truck and began the three-hour trek to a Cross Catholic-supported health clinic in the rural, mountain village of Guitionniere. When I arrived, the clinic’s work day was already well underway, and hundreds of people were congregating there for vital medical care. A nearby canvas tent immediately caught my eye. In that simple structure, pregnant women were receiving pre-natal care – something their mothers and grandmothers had never enjoyed.
Just the week prior, I had been in South Florida for my own routine pre-natal check-up. Though the environments couldn’t have been more different, it was edifying to see that the poor Haitian women were receiving a level of information and care very similar to my own.
In this rural, mountaintop village without water or electricity, I listened as nurses taught the pregnant women the importance of proper hygiene, balanced nutrition and taking their supplied vitamins. The patients were also screened for life-threatening conditions, trained in breastfeeding and counseled in how to care for their babies and families post-delivery.
Though I appreciated the help I’d gained in the United States, at that moment I was very thankful to be in this remote Haitian village, learning new and valuable information that has since helped me during my own pregnancy. Even more than that, I was grateful to be a part of a project that is providing life-saving care through the investment and education of mothers. Clearly, offering comprehensive pre-natal care to the rural poor empowers more than the mothers. It also dramatically improves the lives of the next generation.