An excerpt from Sarah Grey’s trip report from a February 2016 visit shares the success of the work of the ajan santé:
Jean, our lead ajan santé, was anxious to share a part of his work which gives him great satisfaction, so we set off with him one morning to a section on the outskirts of Limonade which was new to me. Trim little houses, cooking smoke rising from each yard, dogs asleep in the sun, raucous music and roosters crowing…. This is how we fall in love with Haiti and her people.
The first call was to meet two young mothers with infants and young children. Our ajan sante had accompanied them throughout their pregnancies and continue to ensure that they attend sessions at the clinic for regular check-up and vaccinations. Upon request, vaccination cards were produced and carefully unwrapped from their white cloths. (Dust is invasive in Haiti, and these official cards are clearly valued). The mothers proudly showed that their records were current and correct. We discussed breast feeding issues and the importance of vitamins for nursing mothers. “Crackers are no good”….”Put a few nails in your cooking pot”, etc., etc.
Chairs were brought out upon our arrival and we sat under the big mango tree chatting about family and neighborhood matters. There was an intensive chicken raising project housed next door, for example, which had been raising concern. This is a very congested area, and families were worried that there could be serious health implications. Jean had agreed that there was indeed a health risk and decided to go to the Mayor’s office. At the time of our visit there were no chickens at all. The project had been halted, pending a final decision.
Next we called on another young mother who was extremely proud of her fat, happy baby. Beaming, she produced her vaccination card – another perfect record! Several generations of the family came out to meet us, all sharing the reflected glory of this beautiful baby. Gradually, seeing us with Jean, mothers from other little houses and alley ways, began to appear with babies and vaccination cards. Every card was duly inspected and pronounced perfect. Congratulating them all on their adherence, I urged them to help the ajan santé by talking to other mothers who might not be so faithful. They agreed to work with Jean on this idea.
We are well aware that community health work can be routinely disheartening in the face of profound poverty. It was heartening to see that there are great successes and that our ajan santé are making a difference for these families in Limonade
Sarah Grey recently pictured with the ajan santé.