VOLUNTEER TIPS + THOUGHTS – Midwives For Haiti

VOLUNTEER TIPS + THOUGHTS

If you are thinking about volunteering for a trip in Haiti with us, or are already booked and getting ready for your first trip, we thought you might want to hear some advice from others who know the ropes. We posed two questions to a group of Midwives For Haiti volunteers (who have come at least once, but many who come to work with us every year), “Why did you choose to volunteer with Midwives For Haiti?” and “What would you tell someone getting ready for their first trip?”

On making the commitment to volunteer:

 

Vida and team

Vida and team

  • “I started volunteering with Midwives For Haiti five years ago because I had heard great things about the organization and saw great need right after the earthquake. I keep volunteering each year because the organization is indeed wonderful and the change they have made is phenomenal!” -Ellen Solis, CNM

 

  • “I was drawn to the very straightforward yet very powerful mission- to reduce maternal mortality. The way the website portrayed the stats and how the vision of MFH would (and does) change them through their programs was what made me decide to volunteer. It was only when I went and met the team that I actually understood how AMAZING they all are and how much passion and care they have for what they do. And what they do really does save lives and change the health outcomes of Haitian mothers and babies. Inspiring!” -Kristin Wall, RN

 

  • “I believe in the mission to teach and train local midwives to increase internal capacity within the country. That causes more ripples than just spending a week in the country as a midwife.” -Kristin Johnson

 

  • “MFH is what a true “mission” program should be: It empowers the Haitians to change their world. While saving lives of mothers and decreasing orphans, it provides income, respect, pride, education and is totally Haitian centered. In 1 week you see Haiti in a way few can, eat Haitian food, develop great relationships and it can be done if you only have a bit more than a week off work. Midwives have a hard time getting away! This is a get away you can do!!!” -Patricia Haroldson, CNM

 

  • fullsizerender“MFH is making a difference in the lives of the women and babies in Haiti, I love this organization and what it stands for in teaching and putting skilled birth attendants in Haiti. Once you become part of the mission and vision you will become addicted!!! Truth!” -Vida Kent, CNM

 

  • “I’m a many-times volunteer. Two things led me to choose MFH for my volunteer resources: Haitians are trained to care for their own communities, and volunteers kept going back. I wanted to be a part of something that midwives wanted to return to continue the work and that would be self-sustaining in the end. Midwives for Haiti accomplishes both!” -Bobbi Kimsey, CNM

 

OK, you’re signed up and excited, maybe a little nervous. Now what? Here are some tips to prepare yourself:
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  • “Come without expectations and prepare to be very flexible.” -Emily Tinsley, RN

 

  • “Respect, listen, be willing to sweat. Universally women who are pregnant or in labor all speak the same language.” -Vida Kent, CNM

 

  • “Expect the unexpected, and understand that the world you will be entering is as removed from your daily experience as that on Mars. Don’t judge; don’t try to impose your own norms; and don’t think that you will be changing things in any way other than by saving one life at a time.” -BD Colen, Photographer
  • “Take creole lessons, bring small US money, carry all the instruments you need on you, consider donating wish list items if possible, like Doppler. Go for walks during the day, enjoy this unique experience.” -Jacquelyn Aurora, LM

 

  • “While working. I carry my own gloves / some cytotec / ibuprofen / sanitizer / chux / magnesium and syringes to give IM / treats for kids / water bottle / wet wipes. Some emergencies come in and drug cabinet locked so I have my meds in pocket. I brought an old apron that I wore. Dollar bills for a Coke at roadside stands near house.” -Rita Ledbetter

 

  • “Give in to the experience and you will be enriched” -Candace Duran, CNM

 

  • “Bring three times more bug spray than you think you need!!” -Suzi Saunders, CNM

 

  • “When I travel anywhere, I carry a small cache of essentials: water bottle, nuts/dried fruit, hand sanitizer, and pocket kleenex. And earplugs for the night! These take care of the basics. And, listen, observe, smile.” -Cheryl Hanna Truscott, CNM

 

  • “Bring respect and listen. It is a different culture so figure out how to adapt. Don’t judge by our standards. Don’t be afraid of Dwinnies cooking- it is great. Review how to manually calculate an IV drip rate.” -Patricia Haroldson, CNM

 

  • “When or if you go to the children’s feeding station be exceedingly careful when holding sick children. Wear mask and use sanitizer. Otherwise you may be going home early very ill.” -Wanda Morgan, CNM

 

  • “You can’t change the world in a week. There WILL be things that will be hard to see (ie, lapses in sterile technique in the hospital). Try to connect with some Haitian people, whether a student, a midwife or a translator. That is what I take away the most.” -Shelly Downing, CNM

 

  • “Everyone I have met in Haiti over the years has been amazing, particularly the staff. Get to know the drivers, the house staff, the translators, teachers, the midwives and the students. All just really wonderful, hard working people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Haiti is a beautiful country with beautiful people. And the food at the MFH house is delicious!” -Summer Aronson (MFH Communications Director)

 

  • “Expect the unexpected!” -Pam Hoover

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We hope these reflections and tips were helpful! Please get in touch with our Volunteer Coordinator with any additional questions: volunteer@midwivesforhaiti.org. We hope to see you in Haiti and welcome you to the Midwives For Haiti family one day soon!

For more reading on being a volunteer with Midwives For Haiti, scroll through our blog and also check out:

Notes From A Volunteer Midwife

You Might Be Working For Midwives For Haiti If…

Each Day in Haiti