Smile Politely

Local midwife, yoga studio sponsor Haiti fundraiser

Dear CU community,

I am a local midwife here in Champaign-Urbana. Last year I went to Haiti as a relief worker shortly after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. What I saw in Haiti, the hunger and desperation of the people, the horrible living conditions, the utter destruction of the towns and cities, was only matched by the resolve of the Haitian citizens to rebuild their country and the determination of the relief workers to help. I worked as a midwife and nurse, bringing medical supplies, diapers, clothes and medicine with me from the US to an improvised primary care clinic in the middle of the poorest slum is the Western hemisphere.  Looking back on the pictures that I took during the trip I can see hope and determination in the midst of utter destruction.

A year has now gone by, and while Haiti is making steps towards recovery, the country is still plagued by poverty, disease and corruption. While the cameras are turning the gaze elsewhere, Haiti still needs help.  So, on April 1st of this year, right after the elections being held this week, I will be returning to volunteer with the same organization that facilitated my work in Haiti last year, “Midwives for Haiti. “ While we were there as emergency relief workers last year, Midwives for Haiti has been working since 2004 to train community midwives. These carefully trained midwives then take their skills out into their communities. They save the lives of women and babies who have no one else to care for them. While there, I will be teaching Haitian midwives,  delivering babies and caring for women who live in desperate conditions.

The lack of skilled obstetrical workers makes Haiti the most dangerous place in the western hemisphere to have a baby. According to World Health Organization statistics 670 women die for every 100,000 births. That rate is 60 times higher than in the US. In the rural areas of Haiti only 15% of births are attended by someone with the training and supplies needed to make birthing safe.

Midwives for Haiti has received the support of the local population and the Ministry of Health. Here is the link to the organization’s website which provides a wealth of in formation about this inspiring and ambitious project. (

To support this trip, Amara Yoga and Arts Center in Urbana is sponsoring a “karma yoga” class and reception this Saturday (Mach 26th) at 6:30pm. The reception starts at 7:30 (see Amara’s website for more info).  All of the proceeds will go towards buying medicine and supplies. I will be able to buy drugs to stop post-partum hemorrhage, pregnancy related seizures and newborn bleeding disorders as well as stethoscopes, gloves, needles and syringes etc… the supplies Haitian midwives need to save the lives of their sisters and their babies. I hope to stuff my suitcase to capacity!

Everyone in the community is welcome to come to Amara this Saturday! You don’t have to actually DO the yoga class– just come to the reception at 7:30 and enjoy a slideshow of my trip last year, snacks and wine (donated by the Corkscrew wine Emporium).

Donations will be gratefully accepted at the door.  I promise to take a camera and sound recording equipment with me–anyone interested is welcome to see and hear a record of this trip when I return.  You can see your donations in action.

In Peace,
Ellen Solis, CNM Saj fenm pou Ayiti (Midwife for Haiti)

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