I am so excited to finally update all of you about my trip to Haiti in April. There were a few tense weeks earlier this month, when I got news that the trip might be cancelled due to low enrollment on our team. Thankfully, the trip will be proceeding as planned! Even though we didn’t get the minimum of 10 people for our team, Heartline decided to allow our team to travel anyway. I am so relieved and thankful.
I have received many questions from family and friends over the past few months regarding what exactly I will be doing while I am there. Those details are still not firm. I was told that our team contains 5 people with varying types of medical experience. They are going to try to provide us with some experiences that will use our skills as much as possible. What that will look like, I am not sure of yet. I am told that it is difficult to schedule things in Haiti too far in advance (something we, in our Western time-oriented society have trouble with!). Also, the organization wants to remain open as needs arise. I should know a little more as the trip gets closer.
I have a conference call scheduled with my team on March 3rd, at 8 pm. What I like best about this meeting is that I am pretty sure that I can attend it in my pajamas! Why can’t all meetings be in pajamas?
Let me give you a little more background about Heartline Ministries, as I have received many questions. This organization has an amazing back story. In 1989, two missionaries moved to Haiti to open a children’s home (also called a creche) to help place children that had been relinquished by their birth families for adoption into North America. As they worked with these children, they learned that most of them were given up for adoption by their birth families due to maternal death during or after childbirth, extreme poverty, or other social issues. Over time, their ministry changed from facilitating adoptions, to trying to address some of these underlying issues with the goal of keeping Haitian families together.
From 2007-2009, Heartline opened their Maternity Center, in order to address the unfulfilled need for maternal health care in Haiti. The maternal death rate in Haiti is 1 in 83, as opposed to 1 in 3800 in developed countries. There are many orphanages, but very few maternity centers. In many cases, receiving proper pregnancy care prevents maternal death, thereby preventing children from being orphaned. Through the maternity center, expectant women are offered prenatal care and education, delivery services, postnatal classes, and support. The program is based on building relationships with the Haitian women who present for care. They are currently in the process of expanding their maternity center so they can serve more women and families.
In 2007, Heartline also opened a small sewing school to help women learn a trade, so they could make money to help support their families. Over time, this grew to a full Women’s Education Center, which today offers classes to teach women sewing, cooking, literacy, cake decorating, or crafts.
Heartline also partners with local schools and helps to sponsor children to give them the opportunity to attend school. At school, the children receive a valuable education, and a daily meal. They run a camp in the summer, specifically for girls, to give the girls a safe place to go when school is not in session, have fun, and stay off the streets.
Heartline also offers a men’s discipleship ministry aimed at teaching men job skills and supporting them to be involved husbands and fathers. One of Heartline’s mottos is “strengthening families”, and they are committed to approaching this goal from many directions.
SO. That is amazing, right? Do you know what is even more amazing? The way that my family, friends, community, and coworkers have rallied around me to support this cause. I am completely blown away by your support. Let me share with you some of the things that have been happening.
–the people at my work have been throwing an ongoing “baby shower” for the maternity center. We have a little corner set up in our lunchroom where people can drop off donations. Here is a picture of that corner:
I have already collected 2 boxes of donations in my office, and the giving is ongoing until the end of March. Thank you to my coworkers at Clinton Woods! You are awesome!
–my kids organized a donation in their classrooms too! They each picked a few items off the wish list for the maternity center, and the kids in their class brought in their offerings of love. Here is their haul:
-I am waiting on some used surgical instruments from InterVol, which is a local organization that collects medical equipment for use on medical missions trips, among other things. A truly amazing humanitarian organization! I haven’t heard from my contact person in a while, so I plan to reach out again this week.
-I have a sweet friend, Amy, whose mother works at an OB-GYN office. Her office recently relocated and they had some surgical instruments that would have been tossed, but instead are going to Haiti! Thank you Amy and Amy’s mom!
-My beautiful friends at Long Pond Pediatric Group, where I used to work, have committed to buying a baby scale for Heartline. I love that they are doing this. It seems so symbolic to me. They care for children here at home, promoting health, and trying to keep kids healthy and safe. This gift will help the children of Haiti to do the same.
-my super-cool friend Margo is a surgeon, and she has been collecting random supplies for me from the OR that would otherwise be discarded. Thanks Margo, xo!
-the missions committee at Pearce Church, where we attend, has graciously offered to cover any shipping expenses for donations. My current plan is to take one additional suitcase with me on my trip, with as many things as I can jam in there. Anything that can’t fit in there I will ship ahead of time.
-this week I met with the Spencerport Kiwanis Club to tell them a little bit about my trip. My friend Dominic introduced me to them. I had heard of the Kiwanis club but never knew much about it. This community organization exists to do good deeds. Who knew such people existed? But here they are:
Thanks to my new friends at Spencerport Kiwanis Club, for your generous monetary donation!
For those of you who want to be involved, there is still time! As I shared before, the maternity center has a list of ongoing needs. You can see that here. You can also shop on Amazon (in your pajamas!!) for Heartline. You can see that wish list here.
Thank you all so much for your support! I can’t wait to see what the next few months brings as it all comes together!