Walking, smiling, growing.

Last week we posted

a collage of garden pictures

on Facebook with a status about how we were entering our biggest month in terms of garden produce.

The pictures we used had actually been taken the previous week, before the splendid 3 nights of rainfall we enjoyed last weekend. When Jenn was making the status I asked naively, "what do you mean the


month? Like "big" because all the crops are going to shoot up in all this rain?"

She looked at me like I was crazy and then informed me that this month will be our biggest


yet. Well, how 'bout that. Time flies. It seems like just yesterday that the garden workers had worked to clear the land and we hired a few extra hands from the community to get the seeds planted.

Truly it is about to be a "big" month as our garden is now 3 times the size of our last garden and at least 5 times the size of our very first attempt to grow things.

Our garden space spans not only the back two acres of "the land." But also an acre plot just to the right.

We will sell the produce, use it to make meals for the moms and babies, and this season we will make our first attempt to save some seeds.

I took a bunch of garden photos on Friday.

I thought I would give you a little tour of the garden, but I realize now that I completely forgot to photograph the tomoato plants and the carrots. You will have to use your imagination.


more cabbage

Cabbage close up... I think the cabbage is striking, and very deserving of 3 feature photos in this blog post.

Haitian "zepina" (spinach)

fields of spinach, okra, and potatoes 

corn and two types of beans

breadfruit tree, beets



green onions

and a bee

On Friday's I'm usually filled with all sorts of warm fuzzies about the week past. So much happens in just a week. We take a lot of pictures throughout the week but on Friday's I find myself snapping away without discrimination. Aside from the healthcare staff, everyone works on Saturday. That includes the gardeners, the cooks, the leadership...etc. But my week of working at the land ends, with the nurses, on Friday afternoon after the moms go home. I'm only going to be away from the land for

two days,

so why the obsessive picture-taking? I guess it's an attempt to capture everything at the project, as it stands, after another week down in the books. It can be very sentimental. :)

For example (as if the surplus of plant photos wasn't enough)...

Our puppy and director.

The first day of that big harvest I was telling you about.

Okay, maybe not everyone's super enthused about the Friday photo flurry

The chickens.

The teenagers.

I just did some rough calculations and I believe, that last week was our 34th week with mothers and children at the facility. We had 8 moms with 8 children in rehabilitation, and 2 siblings. Several of the kids made huge leaps of progress this week. An 18 month old who has never been able to stand is now walking with her mom's help. A baby that has been with us for a ridiculously long time is now finally making the kind of progress you start to think isn't possible. And a baby learned to breastfeed. It was one of the more remarkable things I've experienced in my time in Haiti. It deserves it's own blog post... although every time I say that about a mom or a situation I hardly ever follow through. Here's to hoping that this won't be one of those times. The story of how a 17 year old girl came to successfully breastfeed her 6 week old baby after having not breastfed since it was 5 days old... well it really is a phenomenal story.

baby Fredline

We've come to find a very special use for the small blackboards that are in each of the rooms. Each room has two beds, two shelves, two chairs, two black boards, two moms and two + babies. For the first time this week, Errod used those blackboards to assign weekly chores. One momma sweeps the education building each morning. A few moms are on morning garden duty, filling watering cans just as the sun rises. There is a mom on breakfast dish duty, another on lunch dish duty. One mom cleans the bathroom. Each week they help in a different way. 

There is rhythm and harmony to the day with the understanding that each child's needs are different, each mother's day will look different, and feeding and caring for one's child takes precedent.

There is even harmony at the end of the week when we must plan for 8 women and children to go to 8 different places. When planning Friday's travel arrangements the moms are affectionately referred to by their home-cities by Jenn, Dadou, and Errod. I promise it's very affectionate. For some, the nickname's have stuck and even the moms call out to their friends with the city-moniker. Like "Milot! It's your turn to leave!" We give the moms the money they will need to travel home and bring them by moto or car to the nearest point where they can catch a tap-tap. Some moms only have to travel a distance of 20 minutes, for others it takes more than an hour. They take their babies with them with everything they will need for the weekend. In the current group of moms there are two children who have cerebral palsy. Friday morning we drop them off at the Baptist Hospital (HHA) where the moms spend a few hours learning range of motion exercises and other techniques they can practice during the week. Haiti Hospital Appeal is the only place we know of that offers a physical therapy service. We are so fortunate that they are located so close to our site. The moms really appreciate the opportunity to learn how to help their kids.

helping mom pack

the "departure schedule"

Two of the kids had diarrhea on Tuesday. Kerline, took the opportunity to make "diarrhea" the topic of the morning's health education session. A hands-on activity, "how to prepare oral rehydration drink" was the cornerstone of the session. The drink was then split between the two children that needed it and the diarrhea was resolved by the end of the day.


Another highlight this week was the advent of literacy classes for the mothers. I can't tell you what made me smile more..  Was it hearing the certain din at 2:55 pm as the mothers would begin warning each other  "class is about to start," "the professor is waiting!" and "finish your homework!" Or was it watching Ama, a life long teacher, lead the class like an expert conductor, helping each woman advance according to her level of skill and proficiency? Maybe all of the above.

Some moms are more educated than others but none of them have advanced further than the 6th grade, a few had been enrolled in first or second grade while other had never been to school at all. The moms who can read and write are practicing addition and subtraction problems and honing their math skills. This will be helpful when they start their businesses. Moms who have mastered the alphabet have moved on to writing their name. Once they have mastered their own names they will move on to the names of their children. How useful for these mothers. It is a small thing that will make enrolling their children in school, or bringing them to the hospital just an ounce easier.

One afternoon I stopped by the education center to peak in on the class. I arrived just in time to see a mom who couldn't tell the difference between a 2 and a 7, tap the board with her pen 26 times, correctly naming each letter of the alphabet.

There's no such thing as a hopeless case, but between you and me, if you knew this mother you'd be crying tears of astonishment to see her do what she's doing here.

On yet another afternoon I wandered into one of the recovery rooms and noticed an open notebook on the bed. The page was filled with one sentence, written repeatedly in impeccable script.

First name Last name is very intelligent.

First name Last name is very intelligent.

First name Last name is very intelligent.

How long did that take her? Did she leave her notebook out in the open to show off her work? She must be proud. And that sentence... what a fitting choice of words. Either it was her "homework" to copy that particular sentence, in which case Professor Ama has a knack for injecting confidence-building into his classes, or, this mom was just already feeling that empowered.

Kids walking, breastfeeding, smiling, and growing.

Moms learning and helping one another, smiling, and growing.

Second Mile is exactly what we hoped it would be.