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MN Visit Trip Reflection by Allison Coffelt


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Fall Reflections on a visit to Maison de Naissance
By Allison Coffelt, 11/4/2013

Fall colors slowly drip from leaves here in the middle of the country. I think of Haiti. After my time in Maison de Naissance this summer, my thoughts often circle back to the staff, the clinicians, and the patients in surprising ways.

I remember Gerard Osseline, Miss Osseline, who sits in her small room of the secondary building, day after day, seeing women who come for family planning. She counsels couples and prescribes contraceptive options. She has three children of her own; two of whom go to medical school in the Dominican. She wears cheaters to see her charts, she pulls her hair back in a bun, and she smiles easily.

I ask why she wanted to be a nurse. “When I was young, I always thought about helping people. I love helping people, that’s why I chose this path.”

I hear this over and over at MN. I hear it from the nurses, the community health promoters, the sanitation workers, the drivers, and the administrators.
Community first.

Back at home, with the students I tutor in the Writing Center, I hear an iteration of , “I want to help people”, in every personal statement I read. It’s a common refrain. But something feels different about the way people at MN say it. Maybe I’m being duped, but they say it matter-of-factly. They say it like it’s the only thing they’ve really ever wanted; they say it like it’s the only thing to do; they say it and they know the people working around them say it, too, and believe it. They don’t think it makes them special; they know it makes them human.

Louis Fresnel, Community Health Program coordinator, holds a degree in IT and corroborates data the Health Promoters bring back. Louis drives a bright red moto. He wears plaid button down shirts. He grins often, especially when he shows pictures the pictures he keeps on his phone of his young daughter.
“What do you like about your job?”

He laughs a little. “I love my job because it helps me to gain very good experience with people and make a connection with people in my community. God gave me another perception to see how we could help each other. I love my job because I can live jointly and in collaboration with the people.

“It keeps you connected to the community?”

“Yes, day and night. After I finish working at night, people can come to me and say, ‘We need this, we need that, so can you help me?’, and I get up and see what I can do.”

Louis has worked at MN for more than six years. When he was attending Episcopal University, he learned about MN’s need for people in IT.

“I’m from MN’s community, so I filled out an application just to see how it went. In May 2007, I started working.”

Louis and Gerard are only two of the people I met who are serving, training, and battling the daily grind to realize the right of health care for women and their newborns. They know it is their community. They dream of expansion, of health care beyond pregnancy and babies, to be able to serve their community in fuller capacities.

Brown will leak into the leaves as they crisp and fall in the next few weeks. We will turn our sights to the bright holidays, to gratitude, to winter. I think of Haiti. I ask you to think of Haiti. At Maison de Naissance, they need to be able to keep working, which can only happen with our support.

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