Alma Midwifery is pleased to announce a scholarship fund in memory of our dear friend and former Alma apprentice, Jennifer Warnock. Jen was a much-loved midwife and dancer, and the kind of person you just wanted to be around. Tragically, we lost her far too soon at the age of 43. In the two and a half years since she died, we have been thinking of the best way to honor her memory and keep her alive in our hearts and minds. The Jennifer Warnock Scholarship for International Midwifery Service is based on our hope to support new midwives who want to do service internationally. We want this to honor Jen’s endless curiosity and her commitment to public service and education.
The scholarship will be awarded yearly to a new midwife who plans to travel internationally to practice midwifery, and is $1000 gift.
This year’s recipient is Yvette Blanchette, a midwife who was also an apprentice at Alma at the time Jen worked with us. This month she will travel to Haiti to practice midwifery. Here, in her own words, is Yvette’s story of midwifery in Haiti:
Like many of you, I was listening to the radio on the morning of Jan. 12, 2010 when the news of the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti was announced. As a midwife, I also heard among the statistics of devastation that an estimated 39,000 pregnant women were believed to be affected and now homeless. I immediately thought that while I may not have financial resources to make a real impact, I certainly have a skillset that could serve to support individual women in need of maternity care. So, I joined efforts with a group of like-minded midwives at Mother Health International, to provide midwifery services in the city of Jacmel–located due south of Port Au Prince in one of the hardest hit, under served regions of the country. That first year I spent 9 weeks volunteering at a newly established birth center in a dome tent. We served a large client base providing focused prenatal clinics, childbirth education, labor & birth support, and newborn care with an emphasis on breatfeeding as the nutritional standard for infants. It was something of a midwifery marathon; I personally attended 68 births during my 63 days in country. I returned to Haiti again for 8 weeks in the fall of 2011 as the primary staff midwife at MHI. In addition to motherbaby care, I served as a preceptor for a group of remarkable Haitian women in midwifery training. As of this writing, I am thrilled to report that the first graduate, Ninotte Lubin, one of the students I began apprenticing in 2010, has met requirements to sit for the NARM exam this Fall to qualify for her CPM (certified profession midwife) credential. The preparation of national midwives represents an essential investment towards increasing healthcare accessibility in a country that suffers from a critical lack of basic healthcare infrastructure.
Health Statistics in Haiti:
Haiti is known as the poorest country in the western hemisphere; and this poverty comes with a high price in maternal and neonatal mortality rates. In Haiti only 26% of women have access to maternity healthcare; 3 out of 4 women give birth at home unattended (WHO). Tragically 670 women die per 100,000 live births in Haiti; compared to 24:100,000 in the US (UNFPA). Furthermore, the health of babies is inextricably linked to that of their mothers. In Haiti the neonatal mortality rate is 64:1000 live births (UNFPA). The saddest part of the equation is that a vast majority of maternal and neonatal deaths are from treatable causes such as hemorrhage or infection due to unsanitary conditions; and most [WHO estimates 80%] could be prevented with access to a trained healthcare provider such as a skilled birth attendant.
I am currently preparing to return to Haiti in September (2012) for my third volunteer assignment, nearly 3 years after the earthquake. My previous experiences in country have proven how humanitarian work connects what is truly meaningful in my own life–a passion for midwifery, right livelihood, cultural immersion, and a desire to contribute to the quality of women’s healthcare in under-served parts of the world. I look forward to this next opportunity to serve birthing families, and also to work along side Ninotte, at a community built birth center supported by Olive Tree Projects
You can help support birthing women in Haiti, with an in-kind gift or financial contribution towards the purchase of any of the items listed below, which I hope to carry with me to the birth clinic in September. Wish List:
- Clean birth kits–$10.ea
- Sterile suture kits–$12. ea
- Alternative remedies: false unicorn root, cotton root bark, crampbark tinctures; homeopathic cimicifuga rac., caulophyllum, arnica; EPO, yunnan baiyao–$5-15. ea
- Sponsor a Haitian midwife, provide a carry kit with basic midwifery equipment and a copy of the Hesperian Foundation’s Book for Midwives translated in Creole–$99.ea
- Kindle Fire tablet for clinical documentation, medical reference, and teaching resources–$199.
- Birth model set for childbirth education–$240
- Doppler, fetal monitor–$575.
- Finally, AA (American Airline) miles you might care to share towards this midwife’s roundtrip airfare to Port-Au-Prince. It’s really easy to transfer miles by logging into the AA.com website, clicking on AAadvantage, then “buy & share miles”, (contact me for my AA account info).
Thank you for supporting the midwifery model of care everywhere; and specifically our efforts to reduce maternal & neonatal mortality rates in Haiti.
We are glad to support Yvette in this endeavor, and look forward to hearing about her work when she returns!