Sara Goes to Haiti
In less than a month, I’ll be headed to Haiti with a team of women to help serve at a birth center that offers free prenatal, birth, and post-natal care to mothers and babies living in and near Cap Haitian. I wanted to be intentional about documenting my experience because I believe one of the most powerful and impactful gifts we can offer are our stories, and equal to my desire to serve on this trip, is my desire to bring back the stories of beauty, need and perspective from a corner of the world many people might not be able to otherwise experience in their lives.
This trip has been a long time in the making for me. For starters, from a very early age I have always been so captivated by the miracle of birth - the fact that females have the ability to grow and nourish a human within them, the actual act of giving birth, the incredible miracle of a newborn life. All of these things absolutely blow my mind. Though many of my friends find this crazy, I have longed to be physically pregnant, and go through the experience of giving birth, sometimes more than I actually want to raise a child (pending future real-life experiences I’m sure, but still, this is at least how I feel now, and have for a long time). It’s really hard for me to shake the feeling that my body was made to do that, and I’ll forever gravitate towards any and all stories surrounding pregnancy and labor with such wide-eyed wonder and teary awe.
Another part of my story that’s led me here is the evolution of what it means for me to be pro-life. What started as an incredibly emotionally-heightened belief that was difficult for me to even discuss, much less “debate” with others, has turned into a more open, inquisitive, and challenging dialogue (mostly with myself, sometimes with others), about what being pro-life actually means for me. I will always believe in the incredibly beautiful worth of every human life, and that there are no mistakes in conception and the start of life, but I have felt my focus and energy shift from a more “anti-abortion” stance to one that is more focused on spreading the beauty of honoring and choosing life, and seeing how I can best be of support to women who are facing that decision, and to serve moms and babies in any way I can.
A couple years ago, I came across the story of a birth center in Haiti (a country where the mother and infant mortality rates are the highest in the Western hemisphere) that was desperate for funds as they couldn’t accommodate the massive need for birthing space and resources, and were needing to majorly expand their clinic. I read the stories of this place and watched the videos and my heart did that thing where it feels like it dips a little lower into your stomach at first, then gets caught in your throat, and I knew deep within me I wanted to visit this place. I looked into trips there at the time, but let the opportunities pass me by and eventually tabled it in my mind for the time being.
Fast forward a couple years, and a friend I had from Portland who I had loosely stayed in touch with through social media, but who I knew was a doula and who regularly led trips to another birth center she was connected to in Haiti - MamaBaby Haiti - randomly reached out to me. She asked me if I would be interested in coming on her next trip to Haiti in June the following year. I paused for maybe 3 seconds before saying a wholehearted “Yes” because I knew this was God’s way of answering the desire He had placed so specifically on my heart a couple years before.
So here we are! Less than a month out, and though we have had multiple planning meetings and I have often thought about what those 10 days will look like, the truth is that I don’t think I have any idea what’s in store for me. I have never been to a developing country before, seen poverty like that up close, witnessed a live birth (!!!!), showered from a bucket, spent that much time with people who are from a wildly different culture than my own, and probably lots more things that I’ll be experiencing for the first time. While I am mostly so excited, and selfishly so in need of a cultural perspective shift that plucks me out of my privileged life, I’m of course mildly anxious for all of the unknowns and feel a heightened sense of responsibility around the way I hope to approach this trip: from a place of humility and not with the notion that we are going to rescue, fix, or in any way change the way of life these beautiful people already exist in.
I am grateful for the purpose of this trip - that our role is to go and provide assistance and relief to the insanely hardworking and selfless staff that works around the clock to bring these mamas-to-be and their little ones the best care possible. To see the specific needs firsthand, and to create relationships that last beyond these 10 days, so that we can bring back their stories and needs with us and create awareness around how others can continue to assist this clinic and other similar ones from afar, or hopefully be inspired to want to visit them in person someday as well. I am so grateful for the people who have already stepped up to provide financial support for me to be able to travel there, and who have donated baby dolls, toys, and supplies that we get to bring over with us. If you have any desire to be a part of meeting some of the simple needs of these Haitian people, you can check out the Amazon wish lists of members of our team here and here (they get shipped directly to us so we can pack them up and bring them with us!).
Thanks for reading my story up to this point, and I’m so excited to share our trip with you. We’ll be documenting when we can from our social media accounts (I’m at @glitterandgrace) while we’re there, and then I’ll of course follow up with stories, pics and videos once I’m back. I don't have any way to end this besides the usual encouragement to lean into the things that make your heart beat a little faster and to say yes to the things that you feel made to do, even if it seems a little scary. It's the most life-giving space to live in.