Malnutrition prevention through family-centered, holistic, community-based education

Adult education at Second Mile Haiti

Second Mile’s community education Model

Graduates of the 7th Community Education cohort display their certificates of completion

Graduates of the 7th Community Education cohort display their certificates of completion

Second Mile Haiti offers holistic health and wellness classes to community members who are over 16 years of age in various neighborhoods of rural Northern Haiti. The classes can accommodate 30 participants at a time, and they take place during two hours a day, five days a week, for six weeks. That’s 60 hours per course!

Formal education can be hard to come by in northern Haiti, where the majority of people are facing extreme poverty. Across Haiti, only 60% of adults are literate. We offer this class because there is a huge demand for accessible adult education.

During the class we cover Second Mile Haiti’s standard adult education course that is also offered to caregivers at the Malnutrition Treatment Center. Each participant receives an educational booklet in Haitian Creole designed by Second Mile Haiti nurses. The topics covered throughout the course include:

Average Before and After Exam Scores by Gender

  • Nutrition

  • Women’s health

  • Family health

  • Hygiene and sanitation

  • Children’s health

  • Environment

Participants are required to come in pairs- one man and one woman from a household. They might be husband and wife, but oftentimes they are brother and sister, cousins, or friends. The only key is that participating households send two members, one being a man and one being a woman. Why? Because at the root of childhood malnutrition are issues like family planning, breastfeeding, nutrition, childcare, gender-based violence, hygiene, and so much more. Many of these topics are considered “women’s issues.”

We believe that women’s issues aren’t just women’s issues.

And children’s health is certainly not just a woman’s responsibility.

That’s why we make sure that the topics we teach at Second Mile Haiti reach entire families.


When participants successfully complete the course, they receive a goat that they can use to generate income for their family. This serves as an additional bonus and incentive for completing the course. To graduate, participants must be present for at least 59 of the 60 hours of the course and pass their exit exam.

The gift of a goat is a useful reward for families who make the 60-hour sacrifice to participate in the Community Education course.


We have found that to truly make a lasting impact, we need time with people. We can’t just talk to people for a few minutes a week, or for a few weeks a year. We see results because we take the time to build relationships. This is what it means to walk alongside communities.
— Founder Jenn Schenk

Why Focus on Community Education?

Second Mile Haiti’s #1 goal is to address malnutrition in Haiti. At our Malnutrition Treatment Center, we focus on treating the immediate needs of children who have malnutrition while working with caregivers to prevent relapse. In 2016, we were able to put more energy towards preventative measures so that malnutrition would not occur in the first place. The Community Education program was born out of a deep understanding of the issues present in the communities surrounding the Second Mile Haiti Malnutrition Center.

Education Program Staff

Second Mile Haiti’s Education program is led by two educators who are trained in psychology: Louino Saint Germain and Stael Saintel.

Second Mile Haiti enlisted Louino’s help in designing the Community Education methodology and curriculum in 2016, and he has been a cornerstone of the program ever since. He received his original training as a psychologist in Port-au-Prince, and has extensive experience, having worked with organizations such as CMMB, AIDS Relief, Caris Foundation, and Gheskio. He first met co-founder Amy Syres while working at a local hospital in Limbe. He is most passionate about educating caregivers and working with children. His extensive experience working with HIV/AIDS children, providing post-disaster psychological support, focusing on gender-based violence, and even counseling kids living on the street makes him knowledgeable and an expert in his field. While his everyday work is in the education center at the malnutrition treatment center, he loves getting the opportunity to go do home visits, seeing how education and job creation is changing the lives of families.

It’s important to incorporate psychology into adult education in order to make people feel comfortable and engaged in the learning process. Some of the material we cover can be very sensitive because it deals with traumatic subject matter.

I try to meet each student where they are to make them feel comfortable. I believe first and foremost that everyone should be treated with respect.

Working on the Community Education program has been so fulfilling for me because I can see the difference it makes in people’s lives. I used to go door to door to convince people to participate. Now we have a waiting list of people who want to join. Graduates are taking this knowledge and sharing it with friends and neighbors. This makes me proud.
Adult Education at Second Mile Haiti 2

With her background in psychology, Staelle can be found sitting under the large mango tree at the malnutrition center talking with Moms. Her love and passion for educating families came during her 5 months practicum with an HIV program, then a 3 month practicum at Second Mile Haiti. She believes strongly that the educating of children and parents is the key to changing the future of Haiti. Originally from the Northeast of Haiti, she has made Cap-Haitien her home since finishing university. The community health education program is her favorite part of her job- she loves seeing people who come everyday, learn, and put into practice the information to change the lives of their families and communities. Seeing families grow is what motivates her to come to work every day with a cheerful attitude, ready to teach and engage.

Before I entered this course, I would hear other people talking about it and think to myself, ‘I need to figure out how to do this as well!’ Now after taking the course, I feel more comfortable in public speaking, in eating a balanced diet, and in good hygiene practices.

I feel so happy with everything I’ve learned; I wish the course could continue even longer. I want to thank Mr. Louino and Mme Stael. May God bless them!
— Community Education participant Yolanda Severe
Lè m poko vini mwen te konn tande moun ap pale de kou a. Mwen te konn ap di ‘Ah! Kote prale nan sa a.’ Lè m vini ladan l, li fè m konn pale, konn balanse manje yo, epi li fè m respekte règ ijyèn yo.

M te trè kontan pou tout bagay. Li pat dwe kò fini tèlman mwen te kontan. Mwen di Mr. Louino ak Mme Staël mèsi. Ke Bondye beni yo!

— Yolanda Severe
Second Mile Psychologist Stael with a Patient