After months of planning we are just a few days away from leaving for Haiti!
I am so very grateful to everyone that donated supplies and money. We truly couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends and family. I wish I could individually thank everyone who pitched in, but the truth is I don’t even know all of you. Strangers from Facebook groups and friends of friends sent packages and cash donations. The Amazon wishlist was a great success, and we will be traveling with five giant bags full of much needed supplies for the birth center— over 200 pounds worth!
In case you can’t tell, that is a really large table. We didn’t think we’d be able to fit everything in the bags we had available, but thankfully Jamie is a Tetris Master and everything fit beautifully. Also, Space Bags.
And here’s everything all packed up and ready to go (small child included for scale):
In addition to getting all of this stuff donated, organized, and packed, I’ve been pretty busy these past few months preparing for the trip in other ways. I’m not the biggest non-fiction reader, but I really wanted to learn a little bit about Haiti’s complex history and culture. As I mentioned in my previous post, I started out by reading a book recommended in the MBH handbook, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, which provides some background on Haiti’s public health situation and the story of Dr. Paul Farmer who founded the organization Partners in Health. I also picked up Farewell, Fred Voodoo by Amy Wilentz. Wilentz is a journalist who first traveled to Haiti in 1986, and has been fascinated with the country and its unique culture, history, and difficult relationship with the U.S. ever since.
I could have spent a lot more time reading, but there were also logistical concerns to figure out. Many lists were written and rewritten (this trip has laid bare my Type-A tendencies). And we both spent some time on language learning. Haitian Creole is the most commonly spoken language in Haiti, although French is also listed as one of the official national languages. I found that my four years of high school French weren’t completely useless, because there is quite a bit of overlap between the two languages. We will, thankfully, have a translator available to us at least some of the time while at MamaBaby Haiti, and I have the Google Translate app bookmarked with some important words and phrases.
To anyone who is considering a trip to Haiti in the future, I’d be happy to give you all the details about how I prepared and what I’ve learned so far. But I’m sure I’ll have a lot more interesting advice once I’ve been there and back. So please reach out to me because I would love to see some of my friends and colleagues share their valuable skills!
On that note, it’s my intention to write about my time at MBH while I’m there and to update the blog once I return. So, if you’d like to hear about our adventures, make sure to subscribe by entering your email at the end of this post.
That’s all for now. Wish us luck!