Tax- where a tiny bit of it goes

Posted: 9 February 2016 in Haiti
Tags: ,

ATBAll that tax we pay – where does it go?  Just a tiny tiny tiny bit comes to us, Haiti Hospital Appeal.

I work for Haiti Hospital Appeal, and HHA gets a grant from you. Via the taxman, through the Government’s foreign aid budget, to us.  Then from us, to Haiti to traditional birthing attendants.  We work with 90 “matwons.” or traditional birthing attendants (TBAs). Lay men and women who deliver babies in the field. They have been so diligent in coming to our DFID supported trainings since 2014. We asked them where they learned this very practical art of delivering babies. Most of these men and women have never finished school. Few read and write. They sign-in to the training with a fingerprint. So who introduced them to the art of bringing babies into the world? How long have they been doing this?

“I began delivering babies when, one day in my village, someone came asking ‘who can deliver babies? Who can deliver babies?’ No one else answered, so I delivered my first baby because there was no one else.”

“I’ve been delivering babies for over 25 years, since I was a young girl. There used to be only one hospital, so people decided to use me instead of trying to get to the hospital in time.”

 “I observed a birth at age 16 and, after that, people came to find me to deliver their babies.”

“My hands, they have done a lot of different work. I’ve been a gardener, a block maker, a construction work, and now I deliver babies.”

“I’ve worked for over 20 years as a matwon. My Mother taught me.”

“I’ve been delivering babies since I was a young man. My Grandfather was a matwon and showed me.”

“I began working independently as a matwon after my Mother died. At the age of 17.”

 “I can’t even remember how long I have been a matwon. People whose babies I caught as their Mothers gave birth, those babies now have grandchildren!”

“I’ve been working as a matwon for 29 years. My Papa was a matwon, and I assisted him for many years.”

“I have been delivering babies for 10 years. One day, as I was leaving the market, there was a woman in labour. Her baby was not presenting correctly, so I helped reposition the baby. People heard what I did. After that, people called me to deliver their babies.”

“My Grandmother was a matwon. She taught my Mother. My Mother taught me.”

“I have delivered 75 babies. Only one mother/baby have died. I have sent 5 for Caesarean Sections as the hospital. My work is to save the babies, save the Moms. My whole job is about saving lives.”

These hardworking men and women are mostly uncelebrated. They provide for a need in their neighbourhoods, their villages. We are proud of the work they do. According to UNICEF, only 36% of deliveries in Haiti occur in a hospital or delivery centre ( The percentage is even smaller for people living in rural communities. It is incredible to see how focused and proud of their work they are. And we are proud of them. A theme was echoed when asked about why they do the work they do: To save babies, to save Mommas. We echo that vision and can see it in their work. Delivering safely in the field, referring and transporting patients to facilities who are high risk.

Foreign aid is money wasted.  Perhaps sometimes it is.  But here, it looks like tax money well spent.

Bill, using material gathered by Grace Greene


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