March 8th is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, we’re highlighting a few of the incredible women we’ve served and work alongside around the world. Thanks to your support, women – children, mothers, doctors, and more – have access to better healthcare. Thank you!

Jocelyne, a resident in rural Haiti, holds Sodberline, her surviving twin who almost succumbed to malnutrition

Jocelyne, 27, holds Sodberline, her surviving twin who almost succumbed to malnutrition.

What should have been a joyous occasion turned to heartbreak for Jocelyne, a 27-year-old woman living in a village in rural Haiti.

During childbirth in her community, Jocelyne struggled. Like many families in Haiti, instead of going to a hospital, she stayed close to home where there was no proper medical care. So when the first twin finally arrived, the room fell silent with a tragic discovery — he was dead. Instead of smiles, there was shock. But Jocelyne had no time to mourn and gave birth to the second twin, a tiny girl.

The days following the tragedy were hard on Jocelyne and her surviving baby, whom Jocelyne named Sodberline. As Jocelyne spiraled into sadness, the baby girl became sick. As the days passed, the baby’s condition worsened.

Before long, baby Sodberline weighed just 2.2 pounds, about the same as a quart of water. What was left of her umbilical cord, a nub extending from the base of her bellybutton, had become discolored and infected. She’d stopped eating altogether.

It was in this condition that Medical Teams International discovered Jocelyne and Sodberline during a visit to their community. With the help of clinic staff, Jocelyne obtained antibiotics for Sodberline’s infection. At the same time, clinic workers counseled Jocelyne on how to properly breastfeed the baby.

In Haiti, stories like Jocelyne’s are too common. The country’s health system is insufficient to address mounting needs and has struggled to rebuild following the 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane. Mothers and infants are at risk. Seventy-four percent of all births go unattended by a medical professional in Haiti, leading to higher rates of infant and maternal mortality than elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Once born, children struggle to receive the nutrition they require to grow. Roughly half of the country’s residents live in a food-insecure environment. Loving mothers like Jocelyne struggle to maintain their health and the health of their children.

Your support brings direct care, counseling and support to communities where health resources are limited. In Haiti, Medical Teams is working to reduce the number of children who die from preventable illnesses and support safe motherhood practices.

In Jocelyne and Sodberline’s case, the benefits were evident after one month. In that time, Sobderline gained four and half pounds. During Medical Teams’ last visit, Sodberline weighed a healthy 8.37 pounds and her umbilical cord had healed properly.

Through unimaginable adversity, Jocelyne has the tools to keep herself and her baby healthy. Now, she’s grateful she can be the mother she wanted to be — one who can love and care for her healthy baby. She is reminded of this every day when she sees Sodberline’s face. Your support made this possible.

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