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Story Publication logo May 9, 2013

A Steady Hand for Haiti: The Lullaby


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An Iowa-based medical team has been traveling to rural Haiti for years, assisting residents with...

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Claire-Marthe Joseph, left, sings during a Sunday church service held to welcome members of the Iowa-based Community Health Initiative to their homes. Image by Mary Chind. Haiti, 2013.

The church service became a lullaby. We had arrived in Haiti one day earlier and were invited to begin our stay with a religious service led by ladies from Mission Matana, our home for the next week, and site of the Community Health Initiative clinic.

Next door to the church service was a woman in labor. People were pacing outside the window. I imagined that they were family members. I was very tuned into this moment, it reminded me of another trip to Mali when I photographed a young mother there giving birth with help from another group of American volunteers.

The church service was in another language so it was easy for one's mind to wander. Then the music began. There was one woman--and then three of them--singing and pounding on the backs of their bibles like drums. Their voices echoed off the concrete walls. I closed my eyes and thought about the room next door and then about this place. The music rocked me gently, back and forth. The music became louder and soon a baby's cry came out through their voices. What a miraculous beginning it was.

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