RICHMOND, Va. -- Most people spend their vacations relaxing on a beach or just getting away from their daily lives. However, one special group of Richmonders spend their vacations teaching life changing skills in the Caribbean.
“This trip was amazing,” said Kate Noon. “We just got back a week and a half ago.”
Unlike typical winter escapes where fun in the sun rules the day, this group of travelers was saving lives. Midwives for Haiti is a Richmond-based non-profit that trains nurses in the impoverished country to help expectant mothers.
“There are so many communities that Midwives for Haiti is reaching that otherwise would not have any access maternity care,” said Brittany Tusing with Midwives for Haiti.
“It has the highest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere. So just having a safe birth is a big issue,” added Jessica Jordan, a certified nurse midwife from Richmond’s Church Hill.
How dedicated are these volunteers? Each volunteer pays their own way and uses vacation days.
“I start talking about it months ahead of time,” said Jordan.
“When you leave Haiti stays in your heart. It is a part of you and carry that with you,” said Noon.
To say this was a working vacation is an understatement. Volunteers toil during 12 hour days. “That is why I like going down there because you feel really, really appreciated,” said Jordan, about the life-changing experience.
While this group is delighted to share life-changing knowledge their hearts remain heavy. One of their colleagues, Carrie Wortham, was killed in a cycling accident in Hanover last September. For many, this recent trip is their first trip to Haiti since Carrie’s death.
“It is still a tragic loss and still very fresh,” said Noon. “To us in Midwives for Haiti she was like a family member.”
Carrie worked in Haiti for months as a volunteer coordinator.
“I would say when you’re down there she is on your mind and you feel her presence,” she said.
Carrie’s friends said her memory will live on in a new birthing center dedicated in her name and each little one born there.
"We really feel that this is a special way to help Carrie’s name and legacy with Midwives for Haiti for years to come," said Noon.