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.
We took the first step towards starting "Second Mile" back in October 2011 when we left a different type of work in Haiti so that we could raise funds for a new dream. Our vision-- to help families keep their children-- wouldn't begin to take shape until 3 months later, in January 2012 when we found ourselves back in Cap-Haitien with just shy of $10,000 in start-up funds.
Those early contributions, donned before we had our non-profit status, often came in the form of checks ascribed to us personally or tightly folded bills tucked clandestinely into our naive hands, sweaty with nascent excitement. They were gifts of faith and sacrifice, not all that different from the ones we still receive today. They came with quiet "Thank You"s and nods of mutual understanding as if the giver was saying, "You take this money and you don't give up, you hear?" and as if we heard their unspoken plea, loud and clear.
But you see, none of those actions made actual sense. Thank us? For something we hadn't even done yet?? And really, why would someone give their hard-earned cash to a couple of fresh-faced young people with "a dream"?
But you did.
That was a time in our lives that Jenn and I will never forget. We felt alive with connection to something greater than ourselves. We were propelled by passion, emboldened by faith, and shouldered by the support of people who wanted in.
This time of year always sends my thoughts back to those early days. I am [too] easily overcome by gratitude--teary at times, which prevents me from wrapping my head around the reality of so many individual acts of support. I can't grapple.
People are good--it seems--after all.
Now as I sit at my computer trying (and failing) to stay focused on something much less interesting, I find myself distracted by the ping of Facebook notifications, as faithful friends and curious newcomers pledge their intention to join us Monday for the Number Fundraiser. It's exciting. And it makes me feel thankful, encouraged.
The Number Fundraiser has always been a symbol of the limitless power of teamwork. We rally hard for this one day event. We don't sleep much as we wait for people in each time zone to wake up, to get off work, to get home, make their donations, and check in. We may start early with strong coffee and finish late with a celebratory cocktail.
But what drives us more than caffeine and gives us a high better than the most sugar-filled beverage, is the thrill of connection. It's like the Haitian Proverb that says "Many hands make light work." Men anpil, chay pa lou.
Together, this isn't too much to handle.
It's not too big.
It's not too overwhelming.
Together we can...
Clearing the board on Number Fundraiser day, feels similar to the time we raised money, brick by brick, to enclose the piece of land that would become the first Second Mile site. Donations came by the fives, fifteens, and twenty-fives until before we knew it we'd built something together. The first construction project at Second Mile Haiti-- done-- in the books.
All that is behind us now. We don't have anything to build. We simply have to be. open.
And this number fundraiser helps us do just that.
Since I've inspired a trip down gratitude [memory] lane I might as well highlight some of the numbers that have been significant to us on this journey. Remember, during this number fundraiser we ask you to pick numbers that mean something to you. I'm still thinking about this myself. This isn't just "everyone's favorite fundraiser," it's also my personal favorite. Last year I chose the number 120. It was the total number of children in our database at that time. This year, I may have to choose two numbers if I want to keep on trend. We've done a lot of growing in the last 4 years, this past year especially.
I could choose 13, 45, or 75.
13: The number of children who recovered from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) at Second Mile in 2013.
45. The number of children who recovered at Second Mile in 2014.
Or 75; the number of recoveries in 2015
Alternatively, I could choose 74, the number of recoveries during the first 7.5 months of 2016.
When I think of numbers, I also think about the number of children coming in and out of our program right now.
4, 5, 17.
4 pairs of kids and caregivers who graduated the recovery program today.
5 children in the hospital while Second Mile pays their hospital bills and supports their caregivers.
17 children recovering on-site.
Sometimes numbers aren't important, like the score at the end of a game or the cost of saving a life. A life is priceless and a game is just a game, after all. There are other instances when numbers hold profound meaning & importance, like in the case of a person's sobriety for one, in financial accountability, for another. When we talk about Second Mile Haiti, I believe the numbers matter.
They are a reminder that when you give, you're making a difference.
So thanks. Thanks for reading this. Thanks for being there in the beginning. Thanks for tuning in now. Thanks for "going" to the Facebook event. And thanks for considering a donation on Monday (or right now if you'd like to get a move on...)
Together we can keep saving lives, improving health, creating space for women to be empowered, and helping families who are at risk of being divided. We can do this.