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Haitian infant mortality rates lead to student fundraiser

“Midwives for Haiti,” a national organization, strives to help lower the infant mortality rates by sending qualified midwives to Haiti. Students at UCC are fundraising to send one of their own, local midwife Ali Lape to help.

A group of UCC students have begun raising funds in order to help send local midwife and fellow student Ali Lape to Haiti. Brianna Belcher, Patrick Schneider, Megan Trapp, Cassie Welding, and Karen Wickman wanted to send Lape to the region with clean supplies to help Haitians with prenatal, birth and postpartum care.

The goal is to assist in creating safer births and birthing conditions. “This is a great project to help bring attention to mortality rates in Haiti; a lot of those deaths can be prevented,” said Wickman.

In Haiti, 350 children are dying in childbirth for every 100,000 who survive, according to Midwives for Haiti. This compares to 12.7 for every 100,000 in the United States.

These rates are high in part because 75 percent of Haitian women giving birth do not have a skilled attendant present during delivery, according to midwivesforhaiti.org. Seven percent of children born in Haiti die before the age of five as well, which is one in every 14 children.

The students are part of a larger movement to send midwives to the Haiti, all in the name of creating safer births and lowering this infant mortality rate. Midwives for Haiti, a nationwide organization, has a vision to see that “all Haitian women will have access to prenatal care and delivery with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant.”

The group formed officially in 2006, three years after its founder Nadene Brunk witnessed firsthand the lack of resources and care for pregnant women in Haiti.

The UCC student group has studied the childbirth problems. “They use the same cloth blanket they clean a newborn off with as the blanket the baby grows up with,” Belcher said.

Replacing these unsanitary blankets is one of the group’s objectives. “As a personal touch, we would like to send some type of blanket for each mother and baby that Ali helps deliver,” said Wickman. The group also wants to send supplies with Lape such as latex gloves, medication and more. All plastic products are to be avoided, if donated, the group advises, as the Haitian environment is polluted with plastic.

The group members hope their fundraising and actions will display UCC and its nursing program in a positive light. “It will help in our experience,” the group said. “And it shows that UCC is supportive of us and the fundraising. We are students of UCC that advertise the school. This group represents UCC.”

The group’s main fundraising venture will take place at Logger’s Tap House on Wednesday, May 20, from 5 to 9 p.m. The Tap House, featuring locally brewed beers and cuisine,including some recipes from UCC’s own culinary program, is located at 2060 NW Stewart Parkway in Roseburg. There, the group will put on both a silent auction and a raffle, with the proceeds going to their mission. When a Logger’s customer mentions “Midwives for Haiti,” part of the proceeds from their meal will go to the non-profit organization of the same name.

To donate to this cause, go to gofundme.com/roseburgmidwife. For more information about the Midwives for Haiti local UCC group, you can visit their Facebook page named Send local Midwife Ali Lape to Haiti. For more information on their mission, see midwivesforhaiti.org.