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What to Expect in Hinche

 
Description of Work

 

We have five employed, full-time teachers and preceptors in Haiti. In 2014, we will be adding a American Certified Nurse Midwife to oversee the program.

Limone Clerveau- an Infirmiere Sage Femme and our lead teacher for Class 7

Genette Thelusmond- a graduate of our third class who serves as our Clinical Instructor

Accilien Merlinda- a gradute of our first class, 3 years experience doing prenatals and deliveries; preceptor in clinical settings

Guerlie Bien Aimé- a graduate of our first class

Merline Casimir- a graduate of our second class.

 

Depending on where they are in the curriculum, you will be working with the students all week as preceptors or adjunct faculty. Brittany, our In-Country Coordinator, will direct your schedule and activities for the week, which will include:

        • Traveling with our Haitian midwives (graduates of our program) in a mobile clinic
        • Acting as preceptors in labor and delivery, antepartum, and postpartum rooms
        • Assisting in classroom teaching
        • Assisting in the hospital prenatal clinic
 
An essential part of your job is modeling midwifery care to the students, instructors, and staff of the hospital. Remember that the most dynamic way of teaching is not by correction, but by first understanding the other person and showing compassion, which shows them by your behavior what a midwife is.
 
A more detailed orientation message will be sent to you prior to your trip date. This message will provide curriculum topics for the week you will be in Hinche, as well as some other details on the work week.
 
 
Cultural Reality

We have worked hard over several years to develop a genuine partnership with the staff at St. Therese Hospital, the Haiti Ministry of Health, our staff (drivers, translators, etc.) and the people we serve. Some of these partnerships have been hard won. We urge you to "take care of our relationships" while you are there. You represent us and it is important to remember that your comments, your behavior, and your posture toward the Haitians reflect on us. This is rarely a problem, but it is just good for you to be cognizant of it. You may become keenly aware of how "Americanized" or "Canadianized" you are once you are in Haiti. Our value of "genuine partnership" requires that we meet Haitians "where they are" -- always being respectful and understanding that we do not and cannot possibly know what it is like to be in their shoes.

The hospital (St. Therese) is staffed by dedicated people who are overworked and must constantly deal with difficult realities. There is limited running water, intermittent electricity, poor access to supplies, and a lack of equipment. In addition to training skilled birth attendants, we are assisting in strengthening the care that can be provided at the hospital.
 
Identification

Once you have confirmed travel, we will send you a Midwives For Haiti name tag. Please wear this while you are working in the hospital, at one of the clinics, or in the classroom.
 
Translators
Midwives For Haiti has several translators who act as our staff. They are all very skilled and accustomed to working in our various clinical environments. Carrie will assign you a translator for each work day. They are all very committed to this program and so we are lucky to have each one. 
 
Supplies Needed

As mentioned in the preparation checklist, ALL volunteers will need to bring their own basic medical supplies that they require to practice (listed in Trip Preparation Checklist).

Volunteers are not required to bring donated supplies on their trip, but any donations are certainly welcome. The needs in our hospitals and of our students are always changing. Upcoming volunteers can refer to the Supply List document for the list of what is consistently needed in Hinche. In addition, a supply list will be emailed to your group two weeks prior to your trip. You should reserve some space in your luggage to bring any of these small, additional items that you are able to obtain.
 

 

Accommodations and Getting Around 

Accommodations in Hinche are at the Midwives For Haiti Guesthouse, monitored by 24/7 security and a 20-minute walk or 5-minute moto-taxi ride from the St. Therese hospital. Our headquarters is now in a different location than it was in 2011, so for any previous volunteers, expect the house to be on a different side of town, closer to the hospital.
 
MFH Guesthouse in Hinche

Midwives For Haiti rents a new house in Hinche, which is on the opposite end of town from the previous headquarters, closer to St. Therese Hospital. The permanent residents of the house include four students, who have come from all over the country to participate in the program, and one of our lead midwifery instructors, Mirline Laguerre. Carrie Wortham, our In-Country Coordinator from Richmond, VA, has also been living at the house.
 
The house is very nice, even by U.S. standards. It has 6 bedrooms – 3 for instructors and staff, 1 for students, and 2 for volunteers. The main volunteer room can sleep up to 4 people. The volunteer room comes equipped with: pillows, linens, and mosquito nets, and has a separate bathroom attached, with shower (no hot water – sorry!) towels, and washcloths. Safe drinking water is available.
Other areas of the house include a supply storage room, classroom, teaching office, dining room, sitting area, and outdoor courtyard. Laundry is available at no extra cost, though we do recommend that you tip our laundry lady!
 
Lunch and dinner will be provided. Breakfast is on your own, but we always have a supply of eggs, toast, oatmeal, coffee, and tea. Meals are most often rice and beans with meat and vegetables. In the market in town, you can buy cokes, beer, and rum, as well as other snack items. You may want to pack some ready to eat foods to supplement or to have for breakfast (e.g., protein bars, peanut butter, crackers, etc.). The kitchen has a refrigerator, stove, toaster, and coffee maker. *See section below for more details on MFH House.

You will have a translator with you throughout the day and into the early evening, prior to returning to the house. We do recommend, as would be true in many places in the U.S., that you do not venture out alone, that you leave your valuables at home and that you conduct yourself with reasonable awareness of your surroundings. Our volunteers have never reported a significant sense of lack of safety in Haiti.

Beds are provided at the MFH house. Nights are often cool but can be noisy. Ear plugs or a sleeping aid may be helpful. Mosquito netting is provided for each bed.

There are a few creature comforts but not anything close to what you are used to! We have 24/7 electricity. Showers are cold, and there are fans but no air conditioning. Toilets are available at the house, but they may not be available at all clinical sites. 
 
MFH House Responsibilities
 
As temporary residents in the Midwives For Haiti house and the community as a whole, MFH volunteers havecertain responsibilities to uphold. These include:
        • Breakfast and evening dishes
        • Environmental consciousness – there is no trash pick-up or recycling in Haiti. To this end, it is helpful to remove excess packaging on items you plan to bring to Haiti prior to the trip.
        • Water and electricity conservation: Running water and round-the-clock electricity is very much a luxury in Haiti and should be treated that way. Try to live in this spirit by using minimal water in showers and dishwashing and only turning on lights when needed.
        • Relationship-building with neighbors: When you encounter people in your daily activities, please greet them warmly. You are a representative of Saj Fanm Pou Ayiti.
 
Internet and Phone Service

Midwives For Haiti house has a cell phone and Skype. You may make as many calls as you would like for a small charge.

AT&T cell service is very good in Haiti, as is Verizon with an international card.

Emergency number -- If your family needs to reach you, they can call one of the cell phones in Hinche. Unless you have phone service in Haiti yourself, this is the best way. The numbers are 011-509-4812-5093 and 011-509-3627-0859.

Internet service is spotty in Haiti. We do have access to WiFi at the house, but it is not always reliable. Computers and smart phones are welcome though!

There is a journal at the house to record volunteer advice, reflections, and anything else you would like to share with MFH and future volunteers. We would love to get your feedback and/or reflections about your visit, so that we can share experiences through our social media.
 
Transportation

Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own flights into and out of Port-au-Prince. Upon arrival in PAP, transportation to Hinche will be arranged by Midwives For Haiti.

Volunteer groups are encouraged to coordinate travel times as much as possible, ideally arriving on the same flight from the U.S. to PAP. **Arriving before 12:30pm and departing after 12:30 is ideal when determining flights.

The Midwives For Haiti Pink Jeep will provide group transportation between PAP and our site in Hinche on each Saturday. This cost is included in the volunteer program fee. The drive between Hinche and PAP takes approximately 2.5- 3 hours. Our driver, Ronel, will take volunteers directly from the Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port-au-Prince to our accommodations in Hinche.

Ronel is available to do additional driving in and around Hinche during the week, but since this is in addition to his regular MFH work, he will have to be paid for any additional trips. His rate for a day of driving (e.g. day trip to Bassin Zim, Cange, etc.) is $35 plus cost of gas, and for small trips (e.g. ride to/from MAF airstripp, hospital night shift, etc.) is $15.
 
Accommodations in PAP

If overnight accommodation is required in PAP on either end of your journey, we have several trusted recommendations:

Heartline Ministries Guesthouse – 5 minutes from PAP airport
Comfortable accommodations, run by an American couple. Cost is $50 per night. WiFi, calls to the US, dinner and breakfast provided. Airport transportation is available for an additional $20 per person. Reservations can be made on Heartline Ministries website: http://heartlineministries.org/ourministries/theheartlineguesthouse.php

Matthew 25 Guesthouse – 5 minutes from PAP airport
Cost is $35 per night, including dinner, breakfast, and transportation to and from the airport. Contact Sister Mary Finnick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (509)3-511-7273 to make reservations.

Coconut Villa – 5 minutes from PAP airport
Cost is $100 per single, $150 per double, $200 per triple room, including breakfast. Wireless internet, cable TV, air-conditioned.
More information can be found on Coconut Villa website: http://pages.prodigy.net/hansy/

St. Joseph's Home for Boys – in PAP, learn more at http://www.heartswithhaiti.org/travel-to-haiti.html. A very nice place to stay!
 

 
Other Service Opportunities

Maison Fortune Orphanage
Some veteran volunteers are very well-acquainted with this site, as it served as our previous housing location for midwife volunteers, a 15-minute moto-taxi ride from the MFH house. The orphanage is run by U.S. Xaverian Brothers Mike, Harry, and Bill, and is home to over 200 boys and 60 girls, between the ages of 4-27, as well as 6 female adult caregivers. You can contribute to their mission by visiting the boys and girls (the girls get less attention from visitors than the boys, as the guesthouse is located on the boys campus), teaching an English lesson, painting nails, teaching a game, or donating small gifts of summer clothes, toiletries, toys, barrettes, small jewelry, and games. All gifts should be left with the Brothers for distribution. You can learn more about the orphanage at the website: http://www.maisonfortune.org.
 
Azil Feeding Center
Run by the Sisters of Charity, this feeding center is a short drive from the MFH house, and a good hour-long project. The center exists to provide nourishment and basic medical care to starving and ill-nourished children in the area. Small children (under the age of 5) live at the feeding center for as long as they need to gain healthy weight. Volunteers here can help with the feedings, hold babies (because of the ratio of caregivers to children, they get minimal attention in this way), or play games with the toddlers. It is best to visit around 3:30pm.
 
Church
 We urge you to attend somewhere on Sunday, simply to have a Haiti experience. Equally important, your presence (which IS noticed) helps us build community goodwill.
         • Catholic cathedral: Service begins at 8:30am and lasts ~1.5 hours, with 800 people normally in attendance
         • Protestant church: Service is in the morning and lasts ~2 hours, with 800 people normally in attendance
         • Father Jacque's parish: Service begins at 7:30am and lasts ~1.5 hours. The parish is where Marthonie lives, and Father Jacques is a long-time supporter of Midwives For Haiti.
         • Mass at Maison Fortune: Service begins at 9am and lasts ~1 hour; primarily led by and for the orphanage children.
 

 

Money

Currency in Haiti is somewhat confusing, as there is often not just one conversion involved, but two. Haitians pay for things in Gourdes, but talk about things in either Gourdes or Haitian dollars, which only exists in theory. Generally speaking, the conversion is 40-43 Gourdes to 1 USD (or 1 Gourdes approx. equals 2 US cents). The printed currency and all denominations are in gourds, but costs are sometimes spoken of in Haitian "dollars," as well, which has a conversion rate of 7-8 Haitian dollars to 1 USD (or 1 Haitian dollar approx. equals 12 US cents). The conversion between Haitian dollars to Gourdes is 1 to 5.
         $1 USD = 40-43 Gde
         $1 USD = 7-8 HD
         1 HD = 5 Gde
If you would like to exchange money, just ask our In-Country Coordinator for help. It will be easier to pay for any souvenirs, snacks, etc. in Hinche with Gourdes.
 
Hinche Contacts

Name, Position, Location, Phone

"Manno" Bastia House Manager Hinche 3168-6197
Emmanuel Occidor Translator Hinche 3103-6858
Ronel Emmanuel Driver Hinche 3749-5931
Carrie Wortham In-Country Coordinator Hinche 4812-5093
Nadene Brunk Executive Director Hinche or U.S. 3627-0859
Stephen Eads Medical Director Hinche or U.S. 4854-3862
 
Learning from Experience

For more insight into life in Hinche, we have a number of blog entries made by previous volunteers. Please refer to the Trip Journal page of our website to read about some of the experiences of our volunteers.
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