23 beads. 

23 perfectly imperfect beads. All different shapes and sizes, beautiful yet flawed…huh, this could very well be a description of the human race but no, I’m still talking about the beads that Dorothy made for the first time yesterday.

I guess technically it was her second attempt. We each tried making a couple on Friday but today was different. She was ready and determined. So much so that she sat for 4 hours carefully measuring and cutting the paper, applying glue, and rolling the paper with a tiny wooden rod.

Now don’t go crazy on us thinking, that we’re thinking, that we’re going to become the next Apparent Project or Acholi beads. We don’t think that at all.

This bead-making thing is just the one of those things we haven't been able to shake. It hasn’t left our minds since we first sat down and started brainstorming different ways moms could make and save a little money while their child is still sick and recovering. Making paper beads has always seemed attainable. We need a project that’s fairly portable. Something that can be picked up while a weak baby is sleeping and promptly set down the moment the child stirs.

Of course, we still don’t know how this story will ultimately play out. We never know when God is going to release the best idea yet.. You’ll have to bear with us if in three months time we have a totally different start up project for our families. We do know that God’s been doing some intricate weaving of lives behind the scenes. It seems that before we even began this mission He tied up our lives with the lives of certain Haitien friends that seem to fit perfectly in key roles in the ministry. It’s overwhelming to see how He’s using people that already have such a special place in our hearts. ;)

I first knew Dorothy as the mom of new twin girls that were admitted to the infant care center when I was in the States over for Christmas. The girls were getting close to a year old and still weighed as much as a 2 or 3 month old. Dorothy didn’t want to leave them at first, but one continued to lose weight despite being in the formula program. Plus she really didn’t have the money to keep coming to get milk each week. It was recommended that both girls stay.

We became closer to Dorothy when she brought her phenomenal, one of a kind, 6 year old son to visit. At the time, and still to this day, Klevens had a prolapsed anus. He wasn’t able to sit normally or go to school and his mom had to help him each time he needed to go to the bathroom. Yet still he smiled more than any other child I’ve met. It’s like he smiles with his whole body!

We kept contact with her and eventually called to tell her that a specialist was going to be at the local hospital. COTP and its generous donors helped pay for his surgery and hospital stay. The sucky thing about it was that the operation didn’t resolve the problem. Over the next several months he was hospitalized several times and had an additional two surgeries. Both failed to keep his intestines where there supposed to be.

At the time I happened to frequent the hospital a whole lot and would visit Klevens. He loved it when Jenn was there too and he used to always ask about Maria. Whenever I happened to be at the hospital his mom and I would leave together and head back to the orphanage. To ease the burden a bit, I’d take Kleven’s prescriptions from her and scour our on-site “pharmacy” for as many of his prescribed meds as I could find. She would quickly visit with her girls.

The twins stayed at the care center longer than anticipated. It wasn’t possible for Dorothy to take them home with Klevens in the hospital.  He needed someone to take care of him there. Plus she wasn’t able to work or make any money while she spent her days at the hospital. She didn’t have money to feed those beautiful mouths with yet two other children back home and in school.

Dorothy is reserved, private and proud. She is a capable woman and doesn’t like to trouble people or ask for help. I felt very privileged to be her friend, someone she trusted enough to go beyond those reservations.

I became even closer to Dorothy when one of her daughters passed away. She’d been ill and was taken to the hospital. The following morning I got a call from the hospital that I wasn’t expecting. I couldn’t believe it. The doctor on call at the hospital couldn’t believe it either. One minute she was fine, stable even, the next minute she was gone.

It took me a while, as I sat slumped next to Jenn and Jeanie in a pile of  kid’s clothes on the depot floor, before I could convince myself it was true and stop shaking long enough to dial Dorothy number. She sat on my bed holding her beautiful daughter’s body and cried and moaned more softly than any other parent I’ve known.  

Her silent tears fell again the day she came to be reunited with the baby’s sister.  As happy as she was to be walking out the gate with her healthy 18 month old daughter, it was supposed to be two.  She was only bringing one of her two girls home.   

That was 6 months ago. We no longer live at the care center and neither does her daughter. But we're still friends. 

And today she is creating and experimenting. She is creative and excited!
She gets that this is a pilot project to see if we can make something beautiful.
We’ve explained the goal, the reason we’re testing this thing in the first place.
She understands that we’re trying to do something so that mom’s with sick babies can make money.
Boy does she understand the importance of that.

Maybe that’s where those 23 beautiful beads came from; a combination of 2 years of hardship and heartache, with a dash of hope and happiness.

One of the first things I noticed about Dorothy was her hands. I studied them nearly every time I saw her. Eventually I learned that washing clothes for a living had made her hands strong. But all along it’s like they held a secret about her I just hadn’t uncovered.

Well the secret’s out. This girl can make beads!

Like we mentioned before, who knows if beads will really be a part of the Second Mile Haiti story. 
But I'm starting to get the feeling they're a part of Dorothy's.