Earlier this spring, we were asked if we were interested in flying down to Haiti to film and photograph the work of MamaBaby Haiti, a midwife clinic in Haiti’s second-most populous city, Cap Haitien.
Within a few weeks, we found ourselves on the doorsteps of the clinic, gear in hand and ready to roll. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, with the highest fetal, maternal, and neonatal mortality rates on record. The work of the Haitian midwives and volunteers at MamaBaby Haiti is monumental, to say the least; a beautiful story of Haitians helping Haitians worth telling.
Nearly 12 babies were born during our stay. Of these, we filmed 6 live births – we saw SIX new healthy babies entering the world before our eyes and cameras. I could barely focus my lens when the first one entered our atmosphere as my tears came rushing.
Over the week, we learned more than we could have ever imagined or dreamed we would learn about midwifery and childbirth, and about Haitian women in childbirth. During the long, hot nights we became familiar with the songs and sounds of the women in labor – the beautiful, yearning cries of struggle that, in juxtaposition to many US-Americans, were not cries of protest but those of yielding to their body’s efforts to bring a child into the world.
As we saw the babies open their eyes and take their first gasps, I couldn’t help but reflect on how Haitian babies must be some of the most vulnerable beings in the world.
But what will stay with us the most are the women: mothers and midwives. Strong, beautiful, unwavering. They are the heroes.
The women arrive by taxi, foot and even moto to give birth in the safe, clean and compassionate environment that MamaBaby offers. We filmed one woman, Alouse, who at 40 weeks pregnant mounted a moto to journey to MamaBaby from her village outside the city.
Several days later, we all met her baby boy. Thanks to the free prenatal care she had been receiving and the care of the midwives she and her newborn are in safe hands.
MamaBaby Haiti offers compassionate and respectful free prenatal, birth, postpartum and gynecological care for women at the hands of skilled Haitian midwives who are saving lives every day.
It will take us awhile to unpack what this project has meant to us. True to fashion, Haiti has grabbed ahold of our hearts and won’t let go.