Last year, Somebody’s Mama co-founder, Erika, attended Idea Camp in Austin, TX. The event was an opportunity for organizations like ours to gather, share stories, and become friends with other people who are changing their communities. Our new Mama of the Month, Tara, and her husband, Troy, were presenters representing Heartline Ministries in Port au Prince, Haiti. Erika was drawn to Tara’s story, one of adventure and grace, and we knew we wanted to be a part of what Heartline is doing!
Tara works as a midwife apprentice (and will be finishing her midwife credentials in August) and is part of a team of seven women, four Haitian and three American, who run the maternity center and prenatal program. The team has facilitated over 350 births with no loss of life to mothers or babies. That is quite the feat in Haiti, a country that has held the title of poorest nation in the western hemisphere for decades.
Tara’s personal journey of motherhood is long and varied with seven kids ranging in age from 6 to 24. Tara and Troy fell in love with Haiti through the process of adoption, and after their first two adoptions were complete, they decided to move to Haiti permanently in January 2006, nurturing seeds of both love and concern for their children’s home country.
Heartline Ministries began as an adoption organization and has been working in Port au Prince since 1998. Their website describes what an integral role they have played in relief, restoration, and development in their city.
“On January 12, 2010 everything changed as a devastating earthquake destroyed most of Port Au Prince. Millions were killed, injured, or made homeless. By the grace of God, our facilities experienced minor damage and none of the people working for Heartline were seriously injured.We responded immediately by transforming the maternity center into an emergency clinic where we performed major surgeries and helped hundreds of people recover. We were one of the few places in the city that could function so quickly after the earthquake due to the experienced group of missionaries and medical professionals and their diligent work. After about a year we were able to resume full time maternity services.”
Aside from their life-giving work at the maternity center, Heartline also addresses the needs of the community through life skills training for both women and men as well as feeding and education programs for children.
When we asked Tara why she does this work, she answered, “The need for quality care in all areas of healthcare is great in Haiti. Maternal healthcare is especially important in that it can reduce drastically the number of orphaned children. I love and feel honored to be able to work with women during some the most important, frightening, joyous, and challenging months of their lives. I love seeing a woman come to believe in her ability to give birth to and parent her child. Supporting a woman that truly only needs some encouragement and watching her rise to the occasion and become the mother she was always able to be is a gift.”
She also shared some of the joys and challenges of being a mother to seven children. “Motherhood is insanely different than I imagined. The highs are so high and the lows...well, they are soooooo low. I guess I didn't know it would be as funny as it is (little kids are ridiculously funny), and I also didn't anticipate it being quite so challenging. We have kids spaced out over 18 years…this means we are parenting littles, mediums, and big adult kids all at once. I think little kids are way easier. Little kid stuff is so inconsequential, "You lied about eating the entire bag of candy”—guess what? That goes away with your tummy ache after you puke. No big deal. Bad choice equals two hours of pain. I like that sin to consequence balance—one mistake doesn't equal a lifetime of anything. Something about the weight of big kid mistakes makes it all feel so daunting. I am a young mom, so maybe someday this will all make sense but so far, it is hard to figure out how to do the big kid thing well. The line between letting go (that whole give them wings thing) in a healthy way, and offering advice, guidance, and warnings that drive your children insane, is razor thin. I so want to nail it, but usually feel like I am hammering my thumb and missing the nail altogether.”
Luckily, Tara has some inspiration from her own mother about how to get through the hard parts of parenting. “My mom worked hard when she needed to and taught me the value of finishing what you start. I have wanted to quit various things in my life, but she and my dad noticed that pattern in me when I was in 7th grade and they just refused to allow quitting to be an option. That honestly was a huge gift. Just because it is hard (painful, not fun, whatever)—doesn’t mean quitting is the best answer. There are rewards for pushing through.”
What a gift, indeed. Whether Tara is parenting from afar (her two oldest are back in the States now) or helping women literally push through the pains of labor, she embodies the spirit of what Rabindranath Tagore wrote: “Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”
Today we are honored to know Tara and to support the work she is doing at Heartline. Tara, we applaud your willingness to serve, your heart for the people of Haiti, and your ability to inspire the rest of us to love greatly. Bravo, Mama. Love on!