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?