These two!

Where is Jenn?

I realize many of you probably have no idea where I am or what I have been doing the past couple months.

Unfortunately I had to head back to Texas early May because my family suffered yet another loss. My Mimi passed away age at 71. Far too young if you ask me. Luckily I was able to rush home quick once I got the “please call me” emails from my mom. I have seen those words far too many times the past four years.

I said good-bye, grieved with family, and I also had the privilege of giving her eulogy.

My most recent picture with the siblings while I was home.

My most recent picture with the siblings while I was home.

I headed back to Haiti. I was only here for about a week before I racked up even more frequent flier miles to head up North. This was a fundraising trip that has been in the books for the past couple months.

I just returned from my trip this past Monday. I am excited about the connections and partnerships that I have developed in the past couple months. I think anyone can see that I am passionate about Second Mile and I am even more passionate about the direction it’s heading.

Becoming more legit.

Becoming more legit.

Many people asked me several times while I was on the trip about how the project was functioning without my presence and especially with Amy all by her self. Oh, and not to mention I was almost going on 6 weeks being away from Haiti.

Well first of all when we started the program we have always and will always throw out the words being “self-sustainable” which even refers to the fact one day, we hope to be completely ran by Haitians. That means having an organization that is not reliant on Amy and I or any other international worker. In Haitian terms, blan. Blan translates as white person (foreign presence). So excuse my creole, but we hope to not be ran by white people.

Two months ago we were gifted a technology grant by a very, very, generous foundation. The grant approved us to purchased ipads, lap tops, speakers, hard drivers, database programs, etc.

So here’s the goal.

We have two Haitian administrators at the moment.

Dadou and Kerline.

Dadou is our Haitian Director and Kerline overseas the entire medical program. In the past couple weeks Dadou and Kerline received their own iPads. We created for them: email addresses, schedules on iCal, dropbox (file pictures) and set them up to: write procedures, protocols, contracts, etc.

We are currently working on compiling all of our loose papers which will be recorded, tracked, and managed in a database.

Dadou will control all the mom’s information revolving around business. He will be able to keep record of our sustainability projects. He will have all plans that have ever been made for our buildings (especially if we expand in the future). He will control maintenance of all trucks, motos, solar panels, etc. The list literally goes on.

Kerline will have all data we have ever tracked with the mom’s and their children. It will include weight stats, medicine used, inventory, follow-up visits, health quizzes, etc.

Okay to tell you the truth Amy could do more justice for Kerline, but I think you get the point.

Dadou and Kerline will be inputing every single piece of information that we consume in a day in their very own iPads that will be complied in the new Second Mile database.

This is huge. I think we are working ourself out of a job here. The Blans will be out soon. ;)

In the meantime since I have been gone Amy has only had to make a presence at the land once or twice a week! Kerline emails and send pictures through the iPad. This has given Amy a chance to redo our entire website! This was not an easy task, but I can brag on her and say it only took her 2 weeks. It’s amazing. Check it out!

isn't this awesome?

isn't this awesome?

While I was in the States, Dadou and I would chat back and forth through email as well. I was well updated and informed. This may have been the first trip I wasn’t having a panic attack or hyperventilating because of a situation that happened at the land and I couldn’t do anything about it.

Don’t worry I am not retiring yet. I am not ready (yet) to spend my days drinking mojitos on an isolated beach. What this means is that I am working on bigger and better plans. I am brewing up some new dreams and ideas for our project.

Thanks to the wonderful foundation and especially thank you to Dadou and Kerline for us allowing us the opportunity to do this with them.

I will leave you with this. Just two things.

I am hoping to get these items purchased from the amazon list!

These are big items. We need more scales! (do you realize we are averaging 10 moms a week now) We need a printer for the facility so that Dadou and Kerline will be able to print, copy, and scan documents. Oh, and don’t forget a couple needed items we are needing to enhance our sustainability projects!

And as of right now, we still very much, need financial partners.

I promise your money is going in good hands. In fact, I think it’s obvious your money is being used to equip Haitians to empower other Haitians and their communities.

Bees and Honey! Are you ready for this?!?

There’s a lot of things that are really exciting about Second Mile. The fact that this organization is poised to provide services to a demographic that is already extremely under-served is already amazing.  That it does so in such a thorough and holistic way is even more amazing.  I suspect, however, that you are all already in agreement with me on this point… you all read the blog and follow the updates because you, also, are excited about the work that is being done at the center of this organization.  Which is why I want to tell you a little bit about the equally amazing things that are happening more on the periphery and also about some of the things that are still being developed and why they are just as important to the central mission of Second Mile.  

From the time SM opened its doors, one of its primary objectives has been self-sufficiency/sustainability.  In short, the objective is to have as little reliance on outside funds as possible so that we can continue our work (and continue to pay our 20+ Haitian employees) regardless of how much is donated from month-to-month.  

For example, our land is completely supplied with power through our solar panels.  This simple fact means that we don’t have to spend money on gas every month to run a generator.  Also, the entire salary of our gardeners is paid for by the commerce generated from selling the produce we grow.  Not to mention that we have to spend less money on food from week to week because we grow our own.  The list goes on – cows supply milk for the formula we make on site for the children in recovery, chickens supply eggs that are sold to pay for more salaries.  

All of this means that the money that is donated can be directed to things other than day-to-day operations: medicine, hospital visits, further development of our current resources, etc.  That’s important to us, and it helps to insure that the work we are doing here can continue for as long as it’s needed.  

To that end, we are always developing small ‘sustainability-projects’ to diversify our income and pay our people’s salaries.  Two of these projects are ready to get off the ground and swing into full launch.  I want to tell you a little bit about both of them, and then tell you how you can help us to get them off the ground.  

Bees and Honey

About five weeks ago, SM purchased four bee boxes (complete with bees) and set them up to do their magical work on our flowering land.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that the land literally hums with their activity.  The acquisition of these bee boxes was step one of a more long-term plan to start honey and wax commerce on our land, and eventually, in our community.  

The bees have settled in (they haven’t ‘swarmed’ for those of you familiar with the beekeeping speak) and have been working industriously over the last several weeks.  Our next step is to build more boxes for our bees to expand into – a necessary step before we can begin harvesting honey and wax from the hives.  In the meantime, we are learning as much as we can about the art of beekeeping, training our employees, and working on acquiring the required tools (more of that in a bit).  

Bees are really amazing, and part of what’s so great about them is that they require little to no intervention.  The applications are, for the most part, fairly obvious.  Aside from the added benefit of having thousands of little workers pollinating our land, we will eventually be able to sell the honey they produce in the markets (and to visitors).  Beeswax is another useful commodity here – a primary ingredient in candle making and soap making, this bi-product gives us the opportunity to branch into these cottage industries ourselves, or to partner with a variety of small organizations that are already doing this work in the area. 

Obviously this project carries a lot of potential and we’re so excited to see where it goes, but we’re not quite there yet. 


Another project we’ve been playing with is yogurt production.  While it sounds immensely impressive, yogurt is an incredibly easy product to make and can, for the most part, be done with nothing more than milk, started (i.e. yogurt) and basic kitchen equipment (if you like yogurt and have never tried making your own, I recommend you ‘google’ “how to make yogurt” and give it a try!).  

This project is really promising – the overhead is low, and the process is simple.  Once we’ve established a system for consistent production, we can teach the process to the cooks on the land, which they in turn can fold into their weekly schedule.  

Over the last several weeks we’ve been experimenting with and perfecting this process and brainstorming our basic business plan for selling it.  The numbers are promising.  In short, with the production of just two gallons of yogurt a week, we could cover the salaries for two of our people and still set enough aside to purchase several more cows in our first year.  

Of course, we’ve also had upsets with this project: since we buy our milk from small producers in the village, the consistency of milk quality is variable.  Sometimes it is watered down, and sometimes it has simply gone to long without refrigeration, causing it to separate more easily in the production process.  But these setbacks have been really minor, especially when compared to the potential this program has to be a consistent source of income for SM.  

A yogurt-making lesson, at the land. 

A yogurt-making lesson, at the land. 

Now you know what we’ve been cooking up over the last few weeks.  These are projects that we are really excited about, both for their simplicity and for their potential to make Second Mile Haiti a more financially stable and sustainable program.  But we’re not there yet (yes, this is the part that we in the non-profit world call, ‘the ask’).

Both of these projects need some basic things in order to start them off right and make them sustainable.  

For the bees and honey, we need some basic bee-keeping supplies. All of these can be found on our Amazon wish list (along with many other things…)  

In addition, we are also looking to purchase a hive centrifuge (the tool used for extracting honey from the comb), which is not available on Amazon.  The centrifuge itself costs $299, plus an additional $150 for shipping and customs.  If you would like to make a donation toward any of these materials, you can do so on our donation page! Also, if you’re a closet expert on beekeeping or yogurt making, and have tips or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.  

What’s Needed:

  • Bee keeper suit + gloves

  • Hive tool

  • Capping knife

  • Bee smoker

  • Bee feeders

We also need a few key things for our yogurt production:

  • Jars for canning
  • yogurt culture 

Again, you can find these on our wishlist.  We also need a lactometer, an instrument used  for measuring the purity of milk (watered down milk doesn’t seem to make very good yogurt).  This item is a little tricky to get a hold of and will cost us approximately $80 with shipping and customs.  

The first honey from the hive! 

The first honey from the hive! 

We want to thank Armen Rashidyan for writing this post! Armen is currently in Haiti and is acting as our resident guru in yogurt production. He's doing all sorts of great work for Second Mile (take this blog post for example) and we're lucky enough to have him for few more months.

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.