Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Most Excellent Joanna

Sad day in Haiti today.

Joanna Howard and one of the brand new bubs she has delivered.

Tomorrow Joanna leaves Haiti to begin her next adventure. For those that dont know Joanna she is an extraordinary midwife that has been part of Heartline for just over 2 years and has been with the Heartline family through the earthquake and beyond.

Joanna has been the chief architect of the Heartline Birth Centre and her hand prints are on the whole program. We have a saying in Australia when something is slapped together we say its "half arsed" and so many things here are just that band aids to very complex and not so complex problems.

But those words would never be used to describe Joanna and the way she goes about everything she does. At her going away party tonight Beth described Joanna this way. "She has set the bar really high for us and everything she does she does with Excellence" Thats definetly true of everything I have seen about Joanna and the Heartline Birth Centre.

When we first moved to Haiti I could not believe that God would hook us into a ministry with a birth center. I remember distinctly thinking "are you serious Lord what are you doing, you have to be joking" After our son Isaac died due to poor care and attention in a birth centre in the first world the last thing I wanted anything to do with was a birth center in the 3rd world. Seriously what are the chances in a country with some of the poorest maternal health statistics in the world. The majority of Haitian women have no access to a doctor or a midwife and give birth all too often on the floor in their tent or in a overstretched clinic with a bucket below them to catch the baby as there are not enough staff.

But as usual God knows what he's doing. Getting to witness what these midwives (or weird wives as they are lovingly refered to around here) do each day and the lives they touch is extraudinary. I have seen them save many many women and babies from certain death when they have expertly diagnosed serious complications and transported them to a hospital and paid for a ceasarian. A procedure that would not have otherwise been available to them.

The Heartline Maternity Center is not just a birthing centre its a learning centre and most of all its a relationship centre. Each clinic day there are chubby health babies everywhere because of the love and care pourded out on these women by Joanna and the team. Its no surprise that the women in the program rarely miss a day. They trudge miles and miles through rotten trash river when it flows, mud, rain and yet they still come. Because what Heartline provides is so different to the level of care they receive in any other part of their lives Heartline provides a maternity service of excelence and that is in no small way a reflection of the way Joanna has set the program up.

Joanne is one of the few people I can honestly say is doing what they where created to do. I have never seen someone love, I mean LOVE their job the way she does. She is most happiest sitting at the end of the birthing bed (her Dad Rick built) looking up a girls 'who who' waiting for the baby to pop out. For two years she has loved on these ladies and ensured every baby had the best chance of making it.

Thank-you Joanna I have certainly been blessed by your friendship and will miss you greatly. Thank-you for creating such a solid base for the maternity center to blossom from.

Thank-you for doing what you do best and for your friendship.

Many blessings for your next adventure.

You will be missed.

A Heartline Mum and her baby

As a tribute to Joanna could you please take a moment and clink on this link and vote for Heartline. they are in the running to win a $50,000 grant to be used for the maternity centre.


The Heartline Maternity Program provides Pre-natel care to all of the expectant mums in the program, Birthing facilities, Post Natal care for all the mums and their chubby bubs and also much needed family planning clinic for anyone that wants to come. The ladies take classes in anything from breastfeeding to STD's and everything in between. It truly is a remarkable place of excellence and love.

Thank-you for voting.

A recent addition to the Heartline Baby club

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