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.
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.
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.
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.
The final plan (the one we're sticking to.. )
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."
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, firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions