Day 27

This sweet look between an aunt and her niece has been making our hearts soar. Today, we'd like to tell you their story. 

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When they arrived at the recovery center, Judeline had been caring for her newborn niece, Joalyne, for just 21 days. Joalyne's mother had died just 6 days after her birth, likely due to complications from an unassisted delivery. 

Without access to breastmilk, Judeline had no choice but to feed the baby from the foods that were available to her. Judeline was an experienced mother; she had already given birth to three healthy boys herself. However, this situation was a new one. 

She knew that the pharmacies in the city sold special milk for newborn babies, but when she asked someone about the price, she realized that  a single can cost more money than she had to feed her entire family of five for a week. 

She simply did not have the money to purchase expensive formula. 

Instead, she did her best, making plaintain porridge and splurging on cans of Gerber baby food when she could. Inevitably, these foods were too harsh for a baby not yet a month old and they weren't providing enough nutrition. Rather than gaining weight like healthy babies should, Joalyne was loosing it. 

Joalyne - 27 days old, 5.2 lbs

Joalyne - 27 days old, 5.2 lbs

A friend and former graduate of Second Mile Haiti, Yglie Pierre, began to take note. She knew the signs of malnutrition and she knew that babies who did not breastfeed were at risk. She also knew that feeding a newborn solid foods too early could lead to malnutrition. She had unknowingly made the same mistake with her own daughter. 

Her own experience with malnutrition had left Yglie acutely aware that if things didn't change, her friend's newborn niece would not have much longer on this earth. She told Judeline about the recovery center, where she knew that education and infant formula would be available to help.

When they arrived at the center, the baby had been without adequate nutrition for 27 days. She weighed 5.2 lbs. 

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Though she was 7 months pregnant herself, Judeline agreed to participate in the recovery program. They stayed Monday through Friday until Joalyne made a full and complete recovery. She gained 4.7 lbs.

Judeline became the caretaker of her infant niece the moment her sister succumbed to complications of childbirth. Her bond with Joalyne began during those first 21 days while she was doing everything in her power to keep the new baby alive. 

But when she got to Second Mile Haiti 'everything in her power' changed drastically. And so did her relationship with her niece. 

November 22, 2017 - Judeline and Joalyne at the Recovery Center

November 22, 2017 - Judeline and Joalyne at the Recovery Center

Each day that Judeline watched Joalyne grow and respond to her loving care, their bond grew deeper.

Their bond grew the more she was able to relax into her new knowledge about how to care for a baby that didn't have access to her mother's milk. 

December 8, 2017 - Judeline shows off her health education post test. A perfect score. 

December 8, 2017 - Judeline shows off her health education post test. A perfect score. 

Their bond grew again when she was able to take her niece to the local hospital's Pediatric clinic where her fears about the baby's health were put at ease. 

And their bond grew even more, each and every time Judeline responded to Joalyne's cries, smiles, and new motor developments, made possible now that Joalyne was receiving adequate nutrition. 

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Haiti has a unthinkable number of children growing up in orphanages. More than 30,000 children don't live with their families. This happens when families like Joalyne's don't get the support they need to care for these vulnerable children at home. 

Haiti also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. More babies die during the first month of life in Haiti than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. So high, in fact, 1 in 40 children won't live beyond the first 30 days of life. 

Joalyne arrived at Second Mile at day 27. 

Because of the many individuals who support our work we were able to provide all the infant formula and medical care she needed to recover. 

We are also able to help Judeline's family with a business kit that will increase the family's income and help them cover the additional costs associated with caring for the newborn. And though Judeline will give birth in just a few weeks, her husband, mother, and 13 year old daughter are ready and able to help both with the new baby and the business.

It won't be easy, but this resilient family is determined to make it work. Our support will follow.

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This Holiday Season and we want nothing more than to be able to do the same for each new family that finds their way to our center. 

To do so, we need to see our online Holiday Catalog funded in full.

Each year, during the busy season of parties and presents, traditions and traffic, we post about the impact of your contributions to Haiti and ask you to consider making a year-end gift to support our work. 19 gifts categories remain with gifts like Literacy Kits ($25), Infant Formula ($75), and Business Kits ($250). This week, we're looking for 100 new gifts. Every gift, no mater how big or small, makes a difference for families like this one.

December 8, 2017 - Judeline and her niece on their last day at Second Mile

December 8, 2017 - Judeline and her niece on their last day at Second Mile

All the feels (from the past 10 months)

Today, I'm ripping off the bandaid. It's been months since I've written a blog post, but the latest picture from the Strong Start Maternity Center--kind of demands an explanation. How did we get here?! 

It's time for an update. 

This picture was taken on Thursday, December 7th. You can see the prenatal building, with offices and consultation rooms, and a path leading out to another growing building, the education center. 

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And this picture was taken on September 9th--- just 13 weeks before picture #1.

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So really, how did we get here? 

That's a great question! Let's dissect. 

First I need to introduce Guylee. This will really help my explanation. If I had a list (and I do have a list), of the top 5 people that changed or impacted my life in 2017, Guylee would be (is) on it.

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So who is this mystery person? 

I met Guylee just "down the road" from Second Mile Haiti where he was working at a local hospital. He's an architect by trade and had been volunteering off and on in Haiti for the past 10 years. I know he doesn't look it, eh? You are probably wondering if he started in diapers. The answer is no, so you can stop wondering.

Guylee is quite lovable, has an accent, is extremely talented at designing buildings, and has a gift for teaching. Guylee designs quality buildings (up to earthquake standards), but what he really wants to do is teach local masons and carpenters to build quality buildings. Did I mention he's from the UK and has an accent?

The evolution of Strong Start, and my interactions with Guylee, started back in February. I decided to ask Guylee if he could draw up a site plan for the existing Second Mile property. You know, in case, we wanted to replicate our model or something. I wanted to be ready. 

So he did. 

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Then in March, Amy and I had one of those "come to Jesus" moments.

We knew it was time to expand Second Mile Haiti. But how? That was the question of the year. We were repeatedly doing what I like to call a "round table" conversation. You know, where you sit at the table and you go around and around until there's nothing left to do but "table" the discussion for the next time.

Eventually, a series of discussions, and events, led us to our answer. We knew the Maternity Center was the next step. You can read here for the reasons. 

Perhaps you are one of the ones that thinks were crazy for starting something as new and big as a Maternity Center. It's okay, I am (a little crazy, that is).  

But if it helps, this wasn't an overnight development. Amy and I have never done anything without thinking about it for at least a year. This was actually a dream that started in 2014. I remember telling a friend then: "We will do it. This will happen." And here we are. It's happening.

In April, the board passed our proposal. The need for a Maternity Center must have been pretty clear, or maybe we're just really good at convincing people to jump on board. 

Either way, that's when it hit me.

We had voted. There were meeting minutes and a plan on paper. The Maternity Center vision had just gotten real.

I call Guylee.

"Okay Guylee. Change of plans. We need to build a Maternity Center (insert hesitant chuckle here)."

We started meeting regularly and coming up with plans. 

Plan 1:

The plan we developed for the "board proposal" before we purchased land. This one was pretty, but no details yet. 

The plan we developed for the "board proposal" before we purchased land. This one was pretty, but no details yet. 

Plan 2:

Between Plan 2 and Plan 3, we were visited by one of Second Mile's major funding partners and told that we would be receiving $100,000 for the construction of Strong Start.

My thoughts went something like this: Woah! Amazing. Okay. Now we have to build this thing. It's real.

Then we received an additional grant for land. And since we now had the land measurements, the plan, of course, had to change once again.

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Then came "the Ask." I didn't want to start building the Maternity Center without Guylee, but he was leaving Haiti.

I had to ask him to stay. While I was planning for the next 3 months in my head, I had already done that. He had already said yes in my head, as well. But of course I needed to ask in real life.

Just picture me mustering up the biggest "you-can't-say-no-to-this-face" grin you can imagine before asking "Can you stay for 3 months and oversee the first phase of construction?"

In real life, Guylee decides to commit to a 3 month contract.

We decide to dream big and pack as much as we could into those 12 weeks. We make plans to build the perimeter wall, prenatal clinic, administrative offices, education centre, water tower, and kitchen, along with installing electricity and plumbing.

His start date would be September 4th and he would leave December 11th. Something about having to back to the UK in to make a living? I'm not sure I understand what that means.. ;)

So I might have left out one small detail. We couldn't actually start any of the above without first building a road from the Second Mile's existing location, to the land for Strong Start. There wasn't a passable road between the two locations. So while Guylee was away from Haiti during the first week in September, we built a road.

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Plan 3: 

The final plan (the one we're sticking to.. )

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I don't need to give too many details about what happened during the next 13 weeks. The pictures speak for themselves. We have been blessed by so many of you that decided to contribute. We were able to work for six days a week for three months straight without having to worry about a lack of funds. 

But the funds contributed-to-date have officially been spent. We will stop work at the project on Saturday (December 9th) until we can raise the rest.

You might not believe this but to date, this entire project including land, road, and buildings has cost just $145,000. Can you believe it??

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I wrote this yesterday on my Instagram and Facebook.

"This might be the saddest day for Guylee and I in awhile. That truck just dumped the last bit of supplies we could purchase before the money ran out! I would say we did well Guylee. 79 days of work in a row without running out of money. We almost did it. Work stops on Saturday (Dec 9th) until we can find additional funds. We are extremely thankful to have arrived to this point in the project."

Someone on Facebook asked me if this was an ask?

As I reflected on this question, I realized I have so many emotions right now.

I responded by saying:

"It was a little of everything. First, I'm in awe because we accomplished a lot in such little time." (Construction started on September 19, 2017)

"Secondly, I'm a little tired (because we did so much in such little time)."

"Thirdly, it's a little bit of panic because Feb 26th is the date we have set to open the Prenatal and Education Centre to pregnant women and their families."

"Finally, I'm feeling optimistic because it will work out. It always does."

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I'll leave with you with this final update. In order for us to finish the Prenatal and Education Centre, we need $19,739. Waiting on site, are all the roofing materials, blocks, and windows. They've already been purchased. The remaining $19,739 is $10,000 for labor and $9,739 for additional materials: doors, ceramic tiles, 250 sacks of cement, and electrical and plumbing materials.

$19,739 is all we need to finish, so we can open our doors on Feb 26th. If you are interested in helping us finish this stage, you can donate via online or send a check to: Second Mile Haiti
5 Embarcadero West #325 Oakland, CA 94607

I want to thank everyone who has contributed. We have all accomplished quite a bit in these past 10 months. Please feel free to reach out to me, jenn@secondmilehaiti.org if you have any questions

September 24th

September 24th

October 10th

October 10th

October 28th

October 28th

November 17th

November 17th

November 25

November 25

December 7th

December 7th

Meet the Staff: Yogurt, Cheese, and everything else

Meet the Staff: Yogurt, Cheese, and everything else

Today I’m interviewing Blaise Roosvelt. I have some questions for the person in charge of generating revenue for Second Mile's business program.

Blaise is responsible for, Tou Natirèl (All Natural), the social business branch of Second Mile Haiti’s activities, and a project that came out of a desire to generate sustainable income, in Haiti, through food transformation.

We started making yogurt, the first culprit in a list of bright ideas, back in 2013. Blaise came on to take over production in 2015, when we finally realized that midnight yogurt-making efforts were no longer cutting it...

Success at home - Part 2

Success at home - Part 2

Each time we send a family home, out and away from the structure of the recovery program to the uncharted waters of post-malnutrition existence, we have to wonder: will they be okay?

Will the problems that ailed the family prior to their arrival, continue to weigh them down?

Will disputes cause disharmony? Will the kids get sick again?

Will the business fail? Will disaster strike?

After Adeline left Second Mile Haiti she enjoyed success in business, but that wasn't her only achievement. 

 

Help wanted!

Communications/Social Media Intern

Internship Title: Communications/Social Media Internship

Position Type: Summer (Academic Year) Internship

Location: Cap Haitien, Haiti

Start Date: Position open until filled, requires 6-week minimum commitment

Hours: 30-40 hours/week, preferably four times a week in the SMH office. Up to 4 hours can be completed from the volunteer residence.

Compensation: This is an unpaid/volunteer internship. Housing and meals will be provided.

Duties and Responsibilities:

The Social Media/Communications Intern will:

  • help manage the organization’s website (Squarespace)

  • write drafts for the blog or press releases

  • post on social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, website)

  • review analytics for social media and website

  • create visual graphics, flyers, postcards

  • brainstorm new marketing campaigns

  • assist with content creation for monthly newsletter

  • photograph events at Second Mile Haiti

Qualifications:

  • Firm grasp of available tools and platforms in the social media space

  • Completed or working toward a college degree, preferably in a related field (English, Marketing/Communications, Public Relations)

  • Working knowledge of word processing, Powerpoint, & Excel.

  • Effective communicator, both written and oral

  • Organized, detail-oriented, with ability to prioritize, multitask and meet deadlines

  • Enthusiasm for the mission of Second Mile Haiti and the families we serve

Please include the following for your application to be reviewed:

  • Cover letter, explaining what attracts you to SMH and why you are a perfect fit

  • 2 references

  • 1-2 writing samples

Additionally, please submit answers to the following questions:

  1. What is the best book you’ve read in the last year? Why?

  2. What interests you about Haiti?

  3. What’s the sweetest place you’ve ever travelled to?

Send your application to connect@secondmilehaiti.org. In the subject line please type: Social Media/Communications Intern

 

Success at home - Part 1

Success at home - Part 1

Success is strange. Most of us want to experience it, desperately even. But we don't all share the same definition. For some, success is the gold medal in the Olympic decathlon, for others it's running a mile. For many us, success is simply pulling our shoes on in the morning.  

When extreme poverty enters the equation, a successful week might be one where your entire family goes to bed every night with enough to eat. For others, success might be when this occurs just 50% of the time. 

Rerouted

Rerouted

When she arrived at the center with her cousin Violeinne (age 36), 3-month-old Daphne wasn’t in good shape. According to her caregiver, Daphnee was sick with diarrhea and a cough, evidently caught in the cycle of infection and malnutrition, where the presence of one, both causes and worsens the other.  At 5.3 lbs Daphnee weighed 7 lbs less than a 3-month-old of average weight. She had...

The Trouble With Poverty, The Second Mile Approach

The Trouble With Poverty, The Second Mile Approach

A few days ago while putting together a status for our Facebook page, I found myself captivated by one family in particular. 

To learn more about them, I took a terse spin through our electronic database, chasing the answer to one question after another and marking my journey with mental bullets. 

It was all VERY interesting. 

For the next 24 hours, those mental post-its persisted to flash in my brain like internet pop-ups, beckoning to be made into a story that could be shared. To buy time, I wrote them down with a pen, in a notebook. And now here I am, not two day later, engaging in the most permanent form of note-taking: blogging. 

My Serenity Prayer

My Serenity Prayer

This prayer has been on my mind a lot recently. Growing up, these words were plastered throughout the walls of both of my grandmothers' homes. Both women were devout Catholics until the day they died. I remember getting older and thinking, wow, what a powerful prayer, but I have no idea what it means. I knew it had to be pretty significant though, if two of the most important women in my life had gone to such great lengths to make it visible at every turn. I mean it had to mean something, right? Perhaps at that time, I hadn't yet endured any real hardship, or maybe I had, and I just didn't have a name for it. 

Men?

Men?

"I know the sacrifices you will need to make to attend these classes are great, but the reward is even greater."

At this point I’m just watching, trying to hold back the tears.

We were in a classroom full of adults of differing levels of education. But something told me that few, if any, had ever met someone like Louino, someone who cared about them from the moment he met them.

Numbers & You

Numbers & You

The month of October is an anniversary of sorts for Second Mile Haiti. I know, I know. It's August, not October, but the winds have already started to change, and fall will be here before we know it. 

This coming October will mark 5 years since we started this journey. 5 years already??? 

Yes. And it's hard to believe.  

 

On Siblings

No doubt you've heard us talk about keeping families together. 

We talk about how our program makes it possible for kids to remain with their families even if their parents have died or do not have the capacity to care for them. 

19% of caregivers are a relative other than the child's mother. 

The child's mother is deceased in <2% of cases.

Our homepage celebrates the diverse family make-ups we see in Haiti and support through the recovery center. And we talk about how our program does wonders for bonding, a task that can be especially challenging when children are sick. 

19% of caregivers are first-time mothers

46% of caregivers have experienced the death of one or more children

And we try to include some visual aids with all that "talk." Our Facebook page is absolutely brimming with sparkly-eyed children laughing on their mothers laps, and grannies gazing down at their babes with love and admiration. #familiestogether

We even talk about Dads and their involvement in the process.

5% of children attend follow-up visits with their dads. 

We make this wild claim that we are keeping families together when we invest in the caregivers most at risk of turning to an orphanage when a crisis like malnutrition hits. But there is an aspect of this family preservation thing that we don't talk about very often. It's time we talk about siblings!! 

At Second Mile Haiti we sometimes have an opportunity to get to know the siblings of recovering children. Here's some little known information about these kids:

On Siblings...

On older siblings who stay at the center with their mom and a sick sibling...

Earlier this week, we shared a Facebook post about Kerlovedine, a nine year old sibling who spent all 6 weeks of her brother's recovery at the center.

Her mother is blind and while she can do so much for herself, she relies on Kerlovedine's help for many everyday tasks. When it was time for an education class, Kerlovedine would guide her mother across the yard that separates the recovery rooms and the education building. When she needed to wash the baby's clothes, Kerlovedine would fill a basin with water, find and set out a chair, and gather and carry over the soiled laundry, all before returning for her mother and carefully leading her to the washing station she'd created. When the baby needed a bath, the same process would ensue. She was always there and always watching. Whenever the other women were laughing and joking Renante's expression would remain blank, but more often than not, Kerlovedine would be right there, describing the scene in a stream of whispers. 

When the picture had been painted, her face would ignite, Mackendy's baby hands would shoot up to take hold of her curled lips, feeling the joy in her cheekbones. These three were a unit, not to be separated --- dependent on each other, as families are. 

Some mornings, the nine year old took it upon herself to bring Mackendy before the nurses for his morning check-up. She answered all of their questions: "Was he sick? How many sachets of Medika Mamba did he consume? How did he sleep? How were his stools? It was odd at first, to see such a young girl so involved in her brother's recovery. But then you remember, she has had her eyes on this child since the day he was born. She watches him breath at night. It's moments like these that remind us why Second Mile Haiti's mission is so important and why the sibling-friendly structure of the center is so critical. Siblings need their siblings just as much as kids need their parents and parents need their kids. 

Benito and Clovens (2014)

Benito and Clovens (2014)

On younger siblings who stay at the center with mom and a sick sibling...

While it's somewhat rare to have a sibling as old as Kerlovedine at the center, mother's often come with their younger children, kids who may be just a little bit younger or older than the child in recovery. These spunky, healthy kids are a joy to have around. They too benefit from the nutrition offered at Second Mile. But they give perhaps more than they get. Children like Djeff pictured below were a source of strength for their moms, a source of entertainment for the staff, a source of encouragement for the other mothers, and a source of motivation for their sick siblings. Having a built in playmate, and someone to catch up to helped their sibling to recover. 

Woodson, age 4 (left), recovery from severe malnutrition, takes hold of his brother Djeff (Age 1 year)

Woodson, age 4 (left), recovery from severe malnutrition, takes hold of his brother Djeff (Age 1 year)

When we talk about why it's important to do everything we can to save the lives of children with malnutrition, we can't forget about the best friends they would leave behind. And when we talk about ending the cycle of malnutrition, we can't forget about the younger siblings who benefit from our efforts. 

On siblings who recover from malnutrition together, and their younger siblings...

Walky (age 3) and Alandine (age 5) are two recent Second Mile graduates. When they arrived at the Center, both were acutely malnourished. Their younger brother Marvens was not. The family received support at a critical time. The 6 month old baby is still breastfeeding, but soon he will transition to complimentary foods (like porridge and pureed vegetables), and eventually he won't be breastfeeding at all. It is in these transition periods that children are at most risk for malnutrition. But you see, our program hasn't forgotten about him either. Because of the education she received, his mother understands his needs during critical periods like introducing new foods and weening. Empowered with knowledge, she can move through these stages with confidence.

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On older siblings who visit the Center...

It's not just the little siblings who benefit from what a mother learns during the education classes. 

Older siblings have certainly made their fair share of appearances at the center, even if it's just for a visit. Lala is a mother of 11 who has given birth to 4 sets of multiples. While she was at the center she received daily visits from her second eldest daughter, 19 year old Kettlie. Their home was situated close enough to the center that Kettlie and two of 12 year old siblings (none of whom were in school) could make the daily 4 mile (RT) trek to Second Mile Haiti. While the main purpose for her visits were to help her mother and spend time with her siblings, she could regularly be seen, listening to education classes, and even participating in them. 

Kettlie participates in a hand washing activity using "Glo-Germ"

Kettlie participates in a hand washing activity using "Glo-Germ"

Another older brother (brother to a family of 3 former Second Mile graduates) was caught sneaking a read from the education booklet over Dad's shoulder.

And we can't forget about the older siblings who help take care of the family (and look out for other siblings) while their mother is at Second Mile Haiti.  This young man, brother to Emanise and Mirlanda, stayed home to help his dad take care of a younger brother while his mom was at Second Mile Haiti with his two malnourished sisters. When the girls graduated from the program and transitioned to follow-up, he couldn't wait to come see where his sisters had been.

He gets major sibling points for the many times he helped his mother bring his sisters for follow-up visits. 

Kids needs parents, it's true.

They also need friends, advocates, and role models. Siblings often fill these roles and they fill them well.

These kids and young adults should be celebrated and supported. Certainly, they should never be forgotten. 

Use the comments to tell us what your siblings mean to you.

Learn more about how you can help. 

Share if you LOVE your siblings! 

 

My controversial orphanage post

My controversial orphanage post

Are you ready for the VERY honest truth? When you tell someone here that you want to give them money to start an orphanage they won’t want to disappoint you. And if you tell your Haitian partner that you want your facility to care for 150 orphans, I guarantee that children will be taken from their families. 

Oh the places we've been. May.

By now I'm sure you've heard the very exciting, very, very important news: we have a matching donor for 20K! Cue dance music, chorus of hallelujahs, or whatever it is that puts you in the mood to celebrate! 

Frie! This is amazing, and important, for several reasons:

1) We really need the money. I hate to start out with the brutal, honest truth but that’s the beauty of doing important work. It takes a village right? 2) Speaking of village. Let’s grow ours, shall we? What better way to bring new Second Milers into the fold, than by sharing this campaign and granting others the opportunity to join the giving. 3) As it stands, our supporters are the best of the best and we’re confident that we can pull this off, and reach 20K together. Even if it takes 1,000 twenty dollar bills. We got this.

Phew, now that the big announcement has been made, let me tell you a little about what we’ve been up. May was a busy month! 

At the beginning of the month we got to participate in a malnutrition retreat. Sounds funny right? Retreat. Malnutrition. Same sentence? But sometimes being around people who speak your work-language, get the tough stuff, and share your passion is exactly that, a retreat. HaitiServe, a foundation that’s been actively supporting Haiti and those serving in Haiti for the past several years invited leaders from more than a dozen different organizations to come together in Cap Haitien. Every person in attendance works in some capacity to treat and prevent malnutrition here in Haiti. It was a group front-liners, for sure. HaitiServe wanted us all to meet each other. It’s tough to share resources and ideas with people you’ve never met. The goal of the retreat was to connect. And connect we did! 

On Day 1 the group visited the MFK factory, just 20 minutes outside of Cap Haitien where the Medika Mamba, "peanut butter medicine," used to rehabilitate malnourished children is produced. On Day 2, came for a tour of Second Mile. It was a honor to have everyone out at the site. We definitely made some new friends and I came away from the 3-day retreat feeling proud to work in this field.

Taryn, Country Program Director of Children's Nutrition Program, and Dr. Patricia Wolff, Founder & Executive Director of Meds and Food for Kids.

Taryn, Country Program Director of Children's Nutrition Program, and Dr. Patricia Wolff, Founder & Executive Director of Meds and Food for Kids.

A trip out to the gardens, Second Mile

A trip out to the gardens, Second Mile

Shortly thereafter, in the week leading up to Mother’s Day, we held ourselves an online fundraiser. A few of you made donations to honor the mother’s in your life and in honor of those that left us too soon. Thank you for doing that. As I said above, every time you give to SMH amazing things happen at the recovery center. So thank you.  

Unfortunately, around the same time, we had to make some program cuts. Things were looking too tight for comfort. Even though we had some upcoming fundraisers in the works, we knew our current funds would only stretch so far. We went into conservation mode and dropped the program capacity from 22 caregivers to 18. We broke the news to a disappointed Program Manager and told her to prepare for further cuts in June. In light of this very timely matching campaign we will stay at 18 moms this month (not quite back to full capacity, but close). Kerline did a fist pump when we told her that we didn't think we'd have to restrict the program further after all.

Hopefully, this matching campaign will blow our little funding dilemma out of the water.

It has to, because we can't go backwards.

Health education class with Mom #1. Back when there was only one mom...  

Health education class with Mom #1. Back when there was only one mom...  

Last weekend Jenn and I went on a 4-day trip to explore a part of Haiti we'd never seen. It wasn’t exactly Second Mile related, so why mention it? Well because we’ve simply never felt more inspired by Haiti nor more privileged to be partnering with it’s people. There’s still so much to learn about this beautiful country. And we're taking it one little mountain at a time. 

Ok have you seen enough? Ready to take a trip to Haiti now? We don't blame you. The experience of walking 27 miles through such diverse terrain, seeing so much of Haiti we didn't know existed, reminded us of how much more there is to discover. Do it. Explore. It's good for the body and good for the soul. Email us if you want our visitor trip packet. This hike isn't included. ;) But we can still show you some really beautiful places. 

This month we also sat down with our program staff to take stalk of the business program. It's time we examine both it's successes and shortcomings, and prepare some improvements. Since Chiloo both teaches the mothers during their time at the center, and visits them after they've started their business, I wanted to ask her a few questions. 

"Chiloo," I said, "do you ever leave these visits feeling like you should make any specific changes to this program?"

She wasn't sure. 

I continued. 

"Do you ever see something that makes you think you could have helped that mother be more successful in her business if only... ?" 

You see, we’ve talked at length about the opposite side of the coin. I know about the many home visits where she leaves bolstered, happy, and proud. But does she ever feel like we could be doing more or doing better? I wanted to know, but apparently I didn't know how to ask.

So I gave an example about a mother whose products were stolen from her home because the structure she lived in didn't have a door and couldn't be locked. I suggested that hearing about this mother's experience might then prompt us to add “how to create a secure location for your commerce” as an important lesson in our curriculum. Her response took us slightly away from my original question but what she had to say was still good to hear. 

"Some of the mothers don’t even have walls. Some of them don’t even have houses."

"Do you understand? They don't have homes. They are just living with people who have let them sleep on their floors.” 

And then she went off. Her voice cracked and I saw water in her eyes. “These are the people that are really in need here."

"We are doing a good thing. This project is going to get bigger."

"This is really helping people.”

a mother without income-generating activity

a mother without income-generating activity

a program graduate with her business

a program graduate with her business

I'm pretty sure that our staff loves the work they do. I wouldn't make this claim if I wasn't at least 99% sure. They just wouldn’t fist pump at the mention of more work if they didn’t care about the mission. And they certainly wouldn’t speak of it's beneficiaries with tears in their eyes if they didn’t feel strongly about it’s importance. 

And they seem to be especially on top of their game when the program is full. So let's fill it back up shall we? 

Finally, the month ended on a high note, with cake and Coca Cola. This past Sunday was Mother's Day in Haiti and it goes without saying that we didn't pass on the opportunity to celebrate mothers.

Moms and kids

Moms and kids

Staff

Staff

Celebration and hard work. Two things we've tried our best to do well. Now that we've done the celebrating and Second Mile's doors won't be closing any time soon (though it looked scary there for a little while), it's time to do the hard work of getting those donations.  

So here's my shameless ask. Who's with us? We’ve got two goals here. Grow this community of Second Milers and get those much needed funds. Can you help?