In my hometown, ambulance transport is provided by volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Whenever the ambulance is dispatched for a woman in labor, the goal is always to get her to the hospital before she delivers the baby because it’s the safest place to give birth. This is why, as a volunteer EMT, I’ve found myself rushing a woman in labor to the nearest hospital on a few different occasions.
In Haiti, some women have to walk several hours over rugged terrain to get to a clinic. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@Americares” suffix=””]Delays to quality care can be the difference between life and death for women and their babies.[/inlinetweet] AmeriCares has partnered with the Haitian Health Foundation to help fill this urgent health care gap by providing funding for the purchase of two ambulances, which are already saving lives. These ambulances are critical to providing emergency obstetric care for women in rural settings. They are accessed through alarms sent by phone or text from Mother’s Clubs in mountain villages. Without the community element of the program and the ambulances, many lives would have been lost.
AmeriCares commitment to women’s health in Haiti is multifaceted and doesn’t stop at providing ambulances, just as AmeriCares commitment to Haiti didn’t stop after the initial earthquake response. When writing our blog posts, we were asked to think about #HealthcareHeroes. Looking at AmeriCares work with this in mind, the “Partnership for a Better Haiti” program, another part of AmeriCares commitment to women’s health, leapt out at me. This program highlights many of what I think are the best aspects of AmeriCares work: partnerships, sustainability and empowerment.
“Partnership for a Better Haiti” is a program established by AmeriCares partner the Haitian Health Foundation. One element of this project, now in the third year of support from AmeriCares, is to educate women and girls about their legal and health rights through meaningful social engagement. While I hadn’t watched much soccer before this year’s World Cup, soccer is very popular in Haiti. Another element of this project is to link soccer games and education, allowing women to form a sense of comradery while learning about sexuality, reproductive rights and female health.
Women who’ve gone through the program become #HealthcareHeroes for themselves and the other women in the community. These women amplify the effects of the program by mentoring other women and promoting an ideological shift around women’s health and rights that leads to healthier women and communities.
“[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@AmeriCares” suffix=”~M. Mead”]Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.[/inlinetweet] Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
The opportunities for self-growth and meaningful engagement in the community I gained as a volunteer EMT are what led to me interning at AmeriCares, which is why it is so inspiring to see AmeriCares helping to provide opportunities for other girls to grow and become engaged in their communities.