This must change.

Did you see the news?

Second Mile Haiti just broke ground on the Postpartum Unit at Strong Start Maternity Center.

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What’s a postpartum unit? And why are we building one? 

Good questions. 

We’re building a postpartum unit because you can’t give women a safe place to give birth without also creating a safe space for them to rest, recuperate and bond with their new babies.

But let’s back up a bit further.

As you may know, Second Mile Haiti set off on a grand adventure last year when we announced plans to build a Maternal Health Care facility in Northern Haiti.

The location for the new center was situated just down the road from our flagship facility, the Rehabilitation Center where we help children and their families during and after their recovery from Severe Acute Malnutrition. 

 Bird’s eye view of the Rehabilitation Center.

Bird’s eye view of the Rehabilitation Center.

After 5 years of standing with families in this way, we knew we had to do something more to support families, and we needed to do this long before their kids got sick. 

So we got to work.

 Second Mile Psychologist, Staelle, at the recovery center with caregiver Odette whose daughter died while giving birth to twin girls Christine and Christella (not pictured).

Second Mile Psychologist, Staelle, at the recovery center with caregiver Odette whose daughter died while giving birth to twin girls Christine and Christella (not pictured).

Through the help of many dedicated Second Mile supporters, the Maternity Center opened for prenatal care at the end of March. Currently, our staff of three dedicated Haitian midwives provide prenatal care and postnatal check-ins three days a week, while offering family planning to local families on alternate days. 

 Head Midwife, Josephine Cossier, counsels a prenatal client at Strong Start.

Head Midwife, Josephine Cossier, counsels a prenatal client at Strong Start.

But the vision for Strong Start was never supposed to stop there. And here’s why:

New data was recently released which reveals that 1 in 12 Haitian children will not live to see their fifth birthday (up from 1 in 14 in 2015). 1


Why do kids die? The reasons are varied, sad, and complex, but here’s the silver lining: 

We know enough about why kids die to know how we can help them survive. 

We know that least 50% of those deaths are at least partially caused by Malnutrition and 75% of them occur within the first year of life. 2    We also know that malnutrition is 100% preventable and common childhood illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea can also be prevented. 

 Caregiver at Second Mile’s Rehabilitation Center models hand hygiene for her young sister.

Caregiver at Second Mile’s Rehabilitation Center models hand hygiene for her young sister.

We know that babies born too early or too small are more likely to have health complications that could lead to their death. But we also know how to diagnose and treat many of the pregnancy complications that contribute to high rates of premature birth in Haiti. 

In other words, through prenatal care we can ensure that more babies stay in the cooker as long as possible.

 Client at Strong Start gets an ultrasound to rule out pregnancy complications

Client at Strong Start gets an ultrasound to rule out pregnancy complications

Finally, we know that an alive mother makes all the difference. Children whose mothers have died are 10% more likely to die young than children whose mothers are still living. 

How often is pregnancy deadly for women in Haiti? Too often.

A woman in Haiti is at least 3,000 times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than a woman in the United States or Canada.

Right now, 1 in every 189 births results in a mother’s death and 1 out of every 50 Haitian women will die of maternal causes. 3

 A client at Strong Start gets her blood pressure screened to rule out hypertension and preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication.

A client at Strong Start gets her blood pressure screened to rule out hypertension and preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication.

THIS. MUST. CHANGE. And you can help.

We wouldn’t share the heartbreaking statistics if there wasn’t a way to change them. 

Skilled maternal-health workers save lives.

At Strong Start, our three talented midwives have a combined total of 14 years of higher education and they are more than ready to step up to the crisis at hand.

At Second Mile Haiti we are nearly ready to add labor and delivery to the list of services offered at the Maternity Center. But there are a few things we need your help with before we can begin.

  1. We need more supporters to give monthly.

  2. We need more supporters to give monthly.

  3. We need more supporters to give monthly.

Now, I said there were a few things we needed your help with but really it comes down to just one.

Here’s the thing, we would never promise to offer a service we couldn’t sustain. Monthly supporters are exactly that. Sustainers. 

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If you truly want to get involved in changing lives become a monthly donor today. 

There’s one more thing. 

And it’s a biggie. 

We also know that breastfeeding saves lives. But breastfeeding is hard. And it doesn’t always happen for mothers and their newborns on the first, the second, or even the tenth attempt. But here’s what we know. 

We know that mothers and babies who are able to establish successful breastfeeding within the first hour of life are infinitely more likely to have success in the subsequent days and months. 


That’s where the postpartum unit comes in. If you’ve given birth or know someone who has you may recall that feeding the baby is a big deal. Entire hospital are changing almost everything about what they do in the hours after baby is born so that parents and babies can get the breastfeeding thing down. 

 To learn more about this project and the funds needed to complete it, email us at

To learn more about this project and the funds needed to complete it, email us at

Women in Haiti should have the same support… more support in fact, not less. The stakes are that high. 


You can help keep mothers alive….. and newborns alive….. and keep families together. Give today to help us finish.

The need

The need

Are you interested in knowing more about what the deal is with Strong Start? How do we know there is even a need? What are women doing now for labor and delivery? Does prenatal care really make that big of a difference in keeping families together?

I’m glad you asked!

This fall, we interviewed 100 people within 5 km around the recovery center to get specific information on just that. Here is what we found:

Only a few more weeks to go!


Every few weeks we post a picture like this one. You get a nice aerial shot of bricks, and boards, and rocks and trees. And if you’ve been following along, these photos are exciting! 

But for some of you, these photos might leave you wanting more. More information! More progress updates! More answers!

Who will we serve? What services will we offer? When will we start?!

No fear! In just a few days you can hear the answers to these questions and more during a Facebook Live on Saturday, February 10th. 

But in the meantime...

If you’re wondering "why a Maternity Center?" here’s the scoop: 

Too many women don’t have access to quality maternal care and necessary education during their pregnancies. As a result, life-threatening complications like anemia, infections, and pre-eclampsia go undiagnosed and untreated. This affects not only women and the children they will bring into this world, but entire communities. The health of women affects us all! 

Today, thousands of Haitian women die each year as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. And one in 25 infants don't live past the first 30 days of life. We’d like to stop that.

How will we make a difference and when will we start? 

The Strong Start Maternity Center will serve women and families in Northern Haiti by offering quality maternal care-- identifying complications before it’s too late-- and providing care and follow-up for mothers and newborns in the critical postpartum window and beyond. 

We start on February 26th. Yes, this February. In just 29 days!

We will start by providing prenatal care and education and eventually, we will open the birthing and postpartum unit. As they say in Haiti “piti piti zwazo fè nich li.” Little by little the bird makes it’s nest.” Only time will tell how fast and how far we grow.

Ready for a tour? 


Here's the Prenatal Clinic. In this building there are four consultation rooms, one supply room/laboratory, one electrical room, and three offices.

What will happen in each of this rooms? From Monday through Thursday pregnant women will come for their initial and follow-up consultations. Midwives will help women know how far along they are in their pregnancy, screen and test for complications, provide education, make a birth plan, and see to each women’s specific nutritional needs.

We will be able to test for and treat anemia and common STIs to avoid the severe consequences these conditions pose for mother and child. We will be able to monitor and attend to women with high-blood pressure and provide special care for women with certain risk factors, including helping women access life-saving care when complications arise.

Can you imagine losing your partner or mother because of an undiagnosed pregnancy complication? Can you imagine leaving your kids without a mother because you didn’t have access to a prenatal vitamin?

That stops here.

During their visits both during pregnancy and postpartum, women can meet with a psychologist, discuss their health concerns, and get lactation support.

Here’s what’s happening on site: The roof is being installed in three phase--- the first two phases are already finished! And by next Friday, the final phase will be complete.

We started tiling the consultation rooms and offices this week. That too, will be finished at the end of this week. Next week, we will install the windows and doors and paint the rooms.


By mid-week, next week, we will have started laying brick in the waiting area. And most importantly, the plumbing and electricity will also be finished by the end of next week. The goal is to finish the Prenatal Clinic completely by Feb 9th!

Isn't that a lot of work?! Yes. But as long as we remember to breath in and out we can definitely pull this off.

Alright, let's take the walkway, and head out to the Education Center.


This lovely walkway will soon be covered in brick and provide passage from the prenatal waiting area to the education building.

The cement work on the education building is nearly finished and we have been busy cutting out frames for the roof. We hope to start directing our attention to the roof next week. As you can see, the masons have been quite busy. Just look at those shiny, smooth walls!

The Education Center is the heart of our efforts. We want women to have all the information they need to take care of themselves and their children. The center will be open for prenatal classes Monday-Thursday, new mother courses on Fridays, and on the weekends for family-oriented classes geared towards partners and support people. 

 Imagine the Education Centre looking very similar to this image.

Imagine the Education Centre looking very similar to this image.

Standing in the education center and looking back towards prenatal building, you can catch a glimpse of our Founder's Wall. We are so honored to be working alongside so many passionate individuals to make this dream a reality. This wall sets those partnerships in stone... pun intended. While the names have yet to be inscribed, this is where Strong Start's Founding Members will be able to find their names. "Founding Members" are monthly donors and anyone else who has contributed $250 to become a Founding Member. 


We still have several blocks waiting to be claimed. If you want to be a founding member, join us as a monthly donor or contribute $250 to the buildings here. We'll start inscribing names on Feb. 17th. 


And last but certainly not least: What about food and water? Do we have access to water? Will women and their families have access to healthy food on site? Yes and yes. 

We are working hard to finish two supporting structures: the Outdoor Kitchen and the Water Tower. 

The water tower is located next to the well we dug when this project was first getting start. A pump in the base of the well will pump water into a tank on the tower. The ground work for this system has already been laid, meaning just as soon as it's finished, we will have running water throughout the facility. 

The outdoor kitchen will be a place that families can purchase meals at cost during pre and postnatal visits, during education classes, and even in the future when families come to the center to deliver. We will also be providing Chaya and eggs (a protein-rich, green snack) to all women who attend Prenatal Visits.

Imagine the smells of rich, Haitian foods and groups of women nourishing themselves with a healthy meal. A courtyard eating area (not yet pictured) will be a lovely place to stop and sit for spell.

 The base of the site's storage room and water tower. 

The base of the site's storage room and water tower. 

As you can see, construction has been moving fast. Now that you’re up to speed, you may be wondering how you can help us prepare to open the center on February 26th. 

We still need the following items and/or donations to cover the costs of purchasing these items.

1)  2 Ultrasound Probes ($1100 each)

2) 2 Ipads

Does anyone have an extra iPad just laying around collecting dust? Let us know! We are looking for two iPads in good condition, generation 3 or later. The iPads will be used with the ultrasound technology and also for Electronic Patient Records. Email Jenn:

3)  1 Solar Suitcase- ($1500)

The Solar Suitcase is a complete solar electric system that includes two 20 watt solar panels, a 14 amp-hour lithium ferrous phosphate battery, a 15A charge controller, two rechargeable LED headlamps and a phone charger. The Basic Plus Solar Suitcase offers, a AA/AAA battery charger with batteries, and a fetal Doppler.  The suitcase will provide enough power to get us

4)  Solar Chargers and Outdoor Lamps-$250

We will buy an assortment of solar chargers and lamps to help provide addtional power.

5)  2 massage tables- $300

The massage tables, sold here in Haiti, will be used as patient exam tables.

Want to contribute towards any of these items? 


We hope you enjoyed your tour and we hope to see you soon as a Founding Member of the Strong Start Maternity Center.  If you want to receive news and updates, be sure to sign up for our newsletter today. We promise to send only the best to your inbox. 

xx Thanks for reading!







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.


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. 


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


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.


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??


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, 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. 


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. 



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. 



"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,&nbsp;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.

mother and 3 children

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!