My sweet aunt came and visited me in Haiti last week. She is always a breath of fresh air. While she was here, I took her to Heartline with me.
It was my first time to drive myself. I felt like such a big girl. I'm no longer a 14 year old waiting for a ride. I wish everyone in the world could experience driving in Haiti. It's like off-roading it, except oh wait...that is the road.
John and Beth McHoul have lived in Haiti for a long time..like over 20 years. At first they ran an orphanage. It was a beautiful place with a very small number of children. Their ratio of adults to children was very, very high. They provided their children with a stable, healthy life and worked hard to get them ready to join their forever families in the States.
As I was taking my aunt on a tour of Heartline's sewing program, John was explaining some things to my aunt. He said something like, "We kept taking in kids, but eventually we got tired of taking children away from their mothers. Instead, we wanted to start helping the moms have the resources they need to be good moms who can provide for their own children."
Thus the Women's Programs were born. Heartline has a sewing program where women are taught to sew, taught to read, and given skills they need to generate income for their family. Heartline is fighting the orphan crises at the most foundational level. They are preventing children from becoming orphans.
On Thursdays pregnant women come to the women's center. They are weighed. Their temperature and blood pressure is taken. They eat a high protein meal. They receive their prenatal vitamins for the week. Then each of the women attend a class. Beth and Joanna (midwives extraordinaires) teach a variety of classes about issues that relate directly to these women.
The ladies that are due for a prenatal checkup are then checked out by the midwives in the exam rooms to make sure mom and baby are doing well. They listen to the women and answer questions. Then we pray for each of the ladies. Sometimes the prayers we're praying are so huge and hard and yet simple. God help this mother to be able to eat protein this week. Help her to get enough iron. She's so anemic. Lord help her to make wise decisions. Help her to gain weight. Help her to make good choices for her baby this week, even if that means it's hard and inconvenient for her. Help her to drink enough water. She's so dehydrated. Help her to know she's loved. She's not forgotten. God help. Please help.
Joanna Howard (She's so young and is an amazing, gifted midwife. I love watching her in action.)
Right here I'm feeling like the coolest, most blessed person in the entire world.
Once theses ladies have their babies they start attending the Tuesday class. They bring their new babies. Each week their babies are weighed. Each woman eats a high protein meal and attends class. She learns how to care for her baby. She learns about early childhood development. She is constantly encouraged to keep nursing her baby. If her baby is sick, they are provided access to medical care.
Every week I'm honored to have witnessed something so beautiful and redemptive in this country. The Haitian women are loved, treated with respect, educated, empowered, and cared for deeply by Beth and Joanna. Watching Beth and Joanna do their thing has been one of the sweetest gifts. I don't know how I've been allowed to be apart of something so beautiful.
Every time I'm with these ladies there is this moment when I look around and with tears in my eyes wonder how God made a way for me to be included in so much beauty. I know I did nothing to deserve it. I've told Beth..."It's like I've been allowed into some super cool club, that I know I didn't have the credentials to be a part of. No one should have let me in. There was a mistake. I keep thinking, "How did I get in here?" Grace. That's the only explanation.
I wrote all that to brag on this ministry. But, I also wrote all that so I can tell a funny story.
Whenever he sees a baby, he does one of two things.
He comes over to me, puts his hand on my arm, and seriously warns me..."Momma. Dat baby bite you."
Or, he whispers in my ear...more like a question, pointing to the baby, "Momma. Dat baby bite you?"
I kept thinking it was so weird that Hudson thinks all Haitian babies are vicious creatures who will bite him (or me). Lots of times you can tell...he is genuinely worried about the safety of his mother and is trying to protect me.
We already have some pretty solid suspicions that our little brown bear is a little racist. In the States we had black friends, but they were the minority. We mostly had white friends. We always wished that was different, but probably didn't work hard enough to MAKE it different. Now that we're in Haiti, the white people (blans) are now the minority. Hudson is usually out going and not very shy. Put him in a room with mostly Haitians and the kid is trying to climb up my shirt. He's downright rude to the lady who cleans our house. We're working on that. We've tried to find other reasons why Hudson is such a weirdo around Haitians, but we've had to confess...he's probably a little freaked out about being around so many people with darker skin. It's new to him. When we're walking on the street, he's been known to bury his head in my chest. It's like it's all too much, and he can't take it.
One day he'll figure out that he's not white. For now, he doesn't know and that's okay I guess. I googled, "When should you tell your son he is black" but nothing helpful popped up. Trans-racial Adoption. Sigh. If only there was a reference guide for everything hard and weird that will come up in a family's lifetime.
I was wondering if Hudson thought the Haitian babies were mean, ferocious, biters because of some sort of racial judgment he was making. He's never said a white baby will bite me, or worried about a white baby biting him.
I'll admit. Racism irks me. I haven't learned to deal with racist people in a very gracious way. Aaron thinks it's hilarious that his wife (who will fight someone over racist thoughts and remarks) is now raising her own child with race related issues. Go figure, right? Aaron laughs and laughs that the woman who makes her kids sit and listen to speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. (and cries every time) is mothering a black kid who is not nice to black people.
I keep being a little irritated with Hudson for looking at a Haitian baby and then adamantly insisting that the baby is mean and will bite. I've had to take him out of the room because he was so concerned and worked up about this.
It wasn't until we saw a nursing mother at church this weekend that it all clicked.
My son is not racist. I mean....he is, but not towards babies. Gosh, if there are levels of racism, being a jerk about a baby is the worst of the worst.
Watching that mother nurse her baby, and then having Hudson whisper in my ear, "Momma...dat baby bite you?" made everything make sense.
So that's what I have the privilege of doing at Heartline every week.
When people ask what I do, I can say with confidence..."I teach babies to bite their moms."