Second Mile Haiti

Welcome to our blog! This is a place for us to keep friends and supporters up-to-date with the latest 'Second Mile' happenings! Check in often. Things are moving fast!

Monday, March 26, 2012

We Walk Together

An all too common misconception is that the white man (the blan, the foreigner) in every circumstance fills the provider role. It is he that has something to offer, whether aid, work, food, clothing, training, tools, a means, an end, something, anything…all the time. Regardless of what it is the white person has to offer, the point is that he’s the one in the position to offer something. It separates one from another, those who have something to offer and those who don’t.  Everybody knows it, or should I say everyone can feel it.

We’ve found this horribly crippling notion to be well…horribly crippling. A concept we wish we could crumple up and toss in the fire alongside the sugar cane stumps that will burn into something fresh and new.

Giving jobs used to be my favorite part about my humanitarian efforts in Haiti. While I tried to stay far away from hand-outs I considered giving a job to be the absolute best thing I could offer anyone. It’s a pretty sweet offer. You work, I pay. You provide for your family.

Now I see things in a whole new way. Two days on the property changed me. Two days working alongside my one-day-sometime-soon neighbors. It’s amazing. It’s like a miracle, but they get it. They get us.

It’s typical that a Haitian assumes that blans (white people, foreigners in general) have loads and loads of money. I mean for good reason. Haiti isn’t completely removed from the wonders of television which often feature the wonders of American life. There's nothing wrong with that. But daily life in America looks a whole lot different than daily life in Haiti.  This is why there’s a good chance we (foreigners) get charged more than Haitians. 

Amy and I had to get used to being called “cheesh” (cheap) at least once each time we’re the market just because we weren't willing to pay the foreigner price. 

Our neighbors haven’t taken that tone.  I haven’t heard anybody use the term “cheesh”. But I have heard lots of people say with knowing and concerned looks that they are praying, that they are asking God to bless the land and send money for the project.

I had to make it clear when we when we began work on the land that our budget is modest, more like low. The people took notice that we weren’t yet been able to purchase tools. And that didn’t seem to stop the work. The next day several people showed up with borrowed tools.

The ownership is heartwarming. Usually you have to purchase a container or build a depot to secure all your supplies. But two of our neighbors have offered their homes to store the materials and signed up to keep guard.

This must be what its like to get the community involved.  I think this is what it’s about.

Encouragement, time, smiles, help, prayers, support. 

Today, when we couldn’t offer anything they jumped at their chance to offer themselves

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Papaya juice and Party favors

You've all been wonderfully sweet to me on my birthday. It's been one-heck of a birthday. Possibly the best ever. I mean I did get to go ice-skating when I turned 7,  but other than that I really haven't been big into birthdays. Ask my college roommates. They knew very well that the four of us going to the SoupPlantation with a 50% off Birthday Club Coupon I pre-printed from my email is about as cooperative as I was willing to be. 

But my birthday this year was big time. I turned 25 today but the celebrating actually started Saturday. It continued last night with dinner at a real restaurant. We would have waited until today but ran into a sort of need-meat-now emergency last night (we're still cooking in the rice cooker). 

It was hard to believe that when I woke up this morning it was stilllll my birthday. So many of you wrote such sweet messages and emails. Thank you. :) We splurged on chips and salsa as a birthday dinner and even went out for Papaya juice as a sweet treat. Go ahead and say it... I'm spoiled. 

On Saturday after the clinic...

(please excuse our lack of pictures)

....with a truck full of clinic supplies we drove through a few familiar villages and pulled up to Monia and Mackenson's house. It was gorgeously decorated and some of my favorite faces were there. 
So I sucked it up and went ahead and partied.

But not right away.

Waiting inside...

Waiting outside....

Still waiting....

The party began on Haitian time.. so... just a few hours later than expected. It might have been a little slow getting started but when it did get started we were in for a night of fun. 

Dancing, singing, performances, poems and solos, games, skits, food, dancing, kissing... yes...kissing. At the end of one of skit/game I landed a big kiss on the cheek. A dramatic poem recitation by 17 year old Jeff also ended in a kiss. There was a receiving line of sorts in which guests appreciated me with kisses and then there was a designated time for gift giving. Of course if you didn't bring a gift (which no one did) you could give a gift guessed it...a kiss. 
Love love love culture. 

The fun was facilitated by this dynamic duo, Jeff and Monia's brother. 
(I spent the whole night thinking I must be pretty hot stuff because I thought the man in green was actually the pastor of their church. I couldn't figure out when I'd become so important that the village pastor was the MC at my birthday party. I was wrong and therefore neither hot nor important)
Regardless, these two kept everyone laughing. 

Here Jenn, as my faithful friend, was required to give a synopsis of the day in which I was born, including the names of my parents and the name of the hospital in which I was born. Talk about a pop quiz. She answered: The Hospital of California. Nice. 

My favorite part...these gorgeous girls. Click to watch a short segment of their song. 
It's so worth the click. 

Their singing group is called Group Etwal or The Star Group.
Monia is their director. They perform at their church on occasion. Sign me up for that church. Shoot! 
The theme of the song: Give glory to God, He deserves it! 

My least favorite part. Attention. 
Jenn had been conspiring with several of her groupies for over two weeks. Monia had been secretly making decorations. Food preparations were underway. Someone was shopping for food. Others contributing from their gardens. A scheme to get me to the party after the clinic had been devised. And although everyone had been given strict orders to keep things basic...speakers also somehow snuck their way into the mix. 

I'm not sure what possessed her to plan a surprise party! I think I actually hurt her feelings last year because I was so against the idea of celebrating my birthday. I can barely look you in the eyes if you wish me Happy Birthday! Being sung to is even worse! I'm that awkward! 

And Jenn is well aware of this. She knows me better than most. 
Needless to say she was a little worried that maybe she'd made a total mistake in planing this party. After losing several nights of sleep worrying that she may in fact lose her life upon my arrival at the party she decided to ease me into it. Two days before the big day she spilled the beans. 

I sat for a few seconds, experienced a hot-flash when I imagined the awkwardness I would surely feel on party day, had to talk myself out of hyperventilating, and then sort of started to get excited. 

I was touched that so many of my Haitian friends were involved in this event, that they'd all managed to keep it a secret, that they were excited to surprise me. 
And so I not only tolerated the celebration, I enjoyed it. 

So thanks again for all your birthday love. Yes, I had a great day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baby Steps

M'ap priye pou sa.

Happy Birthday Land! Yesterday marked the first day of work on the land. The day was mostly spent measuring the perimeter and cleaning away the prickly bushes that outlined the area. Each time I walk on the land it seems to expand. With all the clearing that took place today it’s at it’s biggest yet!


There is A LOT of land.

I think I’m excited to write this blog because today is HUGE. We will be able to look back at this blog post in two weeks and say “holy crap” look at all that’s changed in such a short time! I respond in a similar way when I think about how we only returned to Haiti 2 ½ months ago. God sure has been good. Of course He’s always good, but it sure feels like He wants this to work out. I’m thinking of asking him to be our contractor. ;)

We’re always in a bit of limbo never really knowing when or how each step in the process will be funded.  Sometimes that’s hard, but it’s also fun to see God provide. It’s fun to live in the principle of “ask and you shall receive.”  He continuously speaks soothing messages like Trust me. I’ve got this. You’re right where I want you. I will be glorified. So instead of worry and strife we enjoy Peace.  

The next step for us is really to plan for and work towards building our facility.

I’m not going to give you an estimate of the entire project. Why not? you ask. Well..
1)    I don’t know.
2)    God does. He has this cost thing figured out down to the cent. I’m confident that he will provide just as much as we need and maybe even a little more so that we can bless other projects in our area.

The fact of the matter is that things change. Amy and I threw out the proposal we made three months ago. Already we’ve discovered more efficient ways to do things, found less expensive sources for materials, and come up with better ideas. We hope and pray that this continues. We hope and pray that God continues to direct our steps and give us wisdom.

That being said…here’s what we hope to accomplish in the next two weeks!

1)    Purchase/borrow tools (wheel barrows, shovels, picks, rakes, wire…etc)
2)    Prepare to build a wall around the perimeter (digging trenches and cutting down the land)
3)    Build a depot to secure all supplies
4)    Give a whole lot of work to people who didn’t have any

For the next two weeks our costs will be right around $2500. Baby Steps..

After figuring the costs, I told Dadou and the first thing he said…
M’ap preye pou sa. “I’m praying for that.”

Dadou is our guy, our project manager I guess you could say. He’s the man that was recommended to us as a driver back at the end of January when we needed to travel to Port-au-Prince to pick up our friends from Investing Your Talents and One Globe Fund.  The truck agreement had just been finalized that day, another example of perfect timing. We drove straight to the place where we had planned to meet Dadou for the first time. He had a huge smile on his face. He shook our hands, checked to see that everything in the vehicle was working properly. He hopped in the driver seat and asked if we’d already prayed for the journey. Why didn’t we think of that? This was our first inclination that he was a keeper. I’ve spent nearly every day with Dadou since. We thank God everyday for bringing someone into our lives who gets it. He gets that we don’t have a million dollars sitting in the bank. In fact so often he feels compelled to jump in when other Haitians assume we have endless amounts of money. I’ve overheard him try to explain this to others in our defense. He gets that we have to think carefully and pray about each decision. He gets that we are completely trusting God to provide for us each little step of the way.

We know that so many of you have already joined us in prayer too.

We feel it.

Today Amy woke me up way earlier than I had intended to get up to say that our letter had arrived in the mail. The letter we’ve been waiting for since December 23rd. We had to read the email a few times before the news sunk in. It is too good to be true! Second Mile Ministries (aka Second Mile Haiti) was approved by the IRS as a 501(c)3 non profit.  This makes a huge difference when it comes to fundraising and grant writing.

I believe this news didn’t come a day too soon or a day too late. Had we became a non-profit any sooner we may have tried to rush the process. We may have been too focused on fundraising instead of letting God’s timing dictate our actual needs.  

If you are wanting to support Second Mile financially you can:

Donate online. 


Or, write a check to Second Mile Ministries: 
Second Mile Ministries
5251 W. Desert Falcon Ln
Tucson, AZ 85742

We can't thank everyone enough.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finding a Home

We're due for a little update wouldn't you say? Okay, maybe a really big update!

Second Mile Ministries HAS A HOME!!! Not a facebook page home, or a website home page, but a real live jump-up-and-down in the dirt, get a dog, and plant a garden kind of home.

Thursday, the day the decision was made, we sat on an assortment of plastic and sugar cane weave chairs, behind a cook house, under a mango tree. It was perfect. If nothing else, the meeting place alone made it feel right.

On Friday we arranged a meeting with the Notary Public to seal the deal. We all sat together on cinder blocks in a community just outside of the city waiting for the Notè to show up. He unlocked the gate to his home and showed us to his porch where we sat in carved wooden chairs, beautifully stained and varnished. After a minute of tending to his children he joined us on the patio. He unzipped his briefcase and whipped out a big bound book. As he flipped to an open page we caught glimpses of signatures and thumb prints on every page. Things were about to get official!

We'll share more of the story over time. I will say, life isn't random.

We are leasing land from people we know well at a price fit for a friend. We've paid for the first ten years up front with an option to renew for another ten years, which is what we plan to do. We couldn't be more excited about the partnership that this arrangement will create. The man we are leasing from is equally enthusiastic. I don't think he's the type to admit it, but secretly, I think he likes that his land will be used to benefit others. In a way he gets to give back.

No one asked him to, but he's been clearing away brush and preparing the land ever since we mentioned the idea. And in his enthusiasm he's begun finishing an unfinished home adjacent to the property so that he can move there. He wants to be close, to keep an eye on things. 

This was one busy week and weekend. Saturday we had a great first clinic followed by an incredibly sweet surprise birthday party right in the middle of a friendly village! It was the most fun I've ever had at a party in my honor. I think Saturday deserves a post of its own. It was a great end to a great week.

So many reasons to celebrate! 

Party Games
(More photos to come!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


23 beads. 

23 perfectly imperfect beads. All different shapes and sizes, beautiful yet flawed…huh, this could very well be a description of the human race but no, I’m still talking about the beads that Dorothy made for the first time yesterday.

I guess technically it was her second attempt. We each tried making a couple on Friday but today was different. She was ready and determined. So much so that she sat for 4 hours carefully measuring and cutting the paper, applying glue, and rolling the paper with a tiny wooden rod.

Now don’t go crazy on us thinking, that we’re thinking, that we’re going to become the next Apparent Project or Acholi beads. We don’t think that at all.

This bead-making thing is just the one of those things we haven't been able to shake. It hasn’t left our minds since we first sat down and started brainstorming different ways moms could make and save a little money while their child is still sick and recovering. Making paper beads has always seemed attainable. We need a project that’s fairly portable. Something that can be picked up while a weak baby is sleeping and promptly set down the moment the child stirs.

Of course, we still don’t know how this story will ultimately play out. We never know when God is going to release the best idea yet.. You’ll have to bear with us if in three months time we have a totally different start up project for our families. We do know that God’s been doing some intricate weaving of lives behind the scenes. It seems that before we even began this mission He tied up our lives with the lives of certain Haitien friends that seem to fit perfectly in key roles in the ministry. It’s overwhelming to see how He’s using people that already have such a special place in our hearts. ;)

I first knew Dorothy as the mom of new twin girls that were admitted to the infant care center when I was in the States over for Christmas. The girls were getting close to a year old and still weighed as much as a 2 or 3 month old. Dorothy didn’t want to leave them at first, but one continued to lose weight despite being in the formula program. Plus she really didn’t have the money to keep coming to get milk each week. It was recommended that both girls stay.

We became closer to Dorothy when she brought her phenomenal, one of a kind, 6 year old son to visit. At the time, and still to this day, Klevens had a prolapsed anus. He wasn’t able to sit normally or go to school and his mom had to help him each time he needed to go to the bathroom. Yet still he smiled more than any other child I’ve met. It’s like he smiles with his whole body!

We kept contact with her and eventually called to tell her that a specialist was going to be at the local hospital. COTP and its generous donors helped pay for his surgery and hospital stay. The sucky thing about it was that the operation didn’t resolve the problem. Over the next several months he was hospitalized several times and had an additional two surgeries. Both failed to keep his intestines where there supposed to be.

At the time I happened to frequent the hospital a whole lot and would visit Klevens. He loved it when Jenn was there too and he used to always ask about Maria. Whenever I happened to be at the hospital his mom and I would leave together and head back to the orphanage. To ease the burden a bit, I’d take Kleven’s prescriptions from her and scour our on-site “pharmacy” for as many of his prescribed meds as I could find. She would quickly visit with her girls.

The twins stayed at the care center longer than anticipated. It wasn’t possible for Dorothy to take them home with Klevens in the hospital.  He needed someone to take care of him there. Plus she wasn’t able to work or make any money while she spent her days at the hospital. She didn’t have money to feed those beautiful mouths with yet two other children back home and in school.

Dorothy is reserved, private and proud. She is a capable woman and doesn’t like to trouble people or ask for help. I felt very privileged to be her friend, someone she trusted enough to go beyond those reservations.

I became even closer to Dorothy when one of her daughters passed away. She’d been ill and was taken to the hospital. The following morning I got a call from the hospital that I wasn’t expecting. I couldn’t believe it. The doctor on call at the hospital couldn’t believe it either. One minute she was fine, stable even, the next minute she was gone.

It took me a while, as I sat slumped next to Jenn and Jeanie in a pile of  kid’s clothes on the depot floor, before I could convince myself it was true and stop shaking long enough to dial Dorothy number. She sat on my bed holding her beautiful daughter’s body and cried and moaned more softly than any other parent I’ve known.  

Her silent tears fell again the day she came to be reunited with the baby’s sister.  As happy as she was to be walking out the gate with her healthy 18 month old daughter, it was supposed to be two.  She was only bringing one of her two girls home.   

That was 6 months ago. We no longer live at the care center and neither does her daughter. But we're still friends. 

And today she is creating and experimenting. She is creative and excited!
She gets that this is a pilot project to see if we can make something beautiful.
We’ve explained the goal, the reason we’re testing this thing in the first place.
She understands that we’re trying to do something so that mom’s with sick babies can make money.
Boy does she understand the importance of that.

Maybe that’s where those 23 beautiful beads came from; a combination of 2 years of hardship and heartache, with a dash of hope and happiness.

One of the first things I noticed about Dorothy was her hands. I studied them nearly every time I saw her. Eventually I learned that washing clothes for a living had made her hands strong. But all along it’s like they held a secret about her I just hadn’t uncovered.

Well the secret’s out. This girl can make beads!

Like we mentioned before, who knows if beads will really be a part of the Second Mile Haiti story. 
But I'm starting to get the feeling they're a part of Dorothy's. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

a sweet day

Today was a SWEET day. 
It was awesome for several reasons not primarily because I discovered that I love grapefruit juice, although that was one of the major positives. 

How ‘bout I get right to point. Yesterday we blogged, posted, emailed, and tweeted about our need for medicine and medical supplies. Not necessarily for you to send them to us, but for you to donate money towards their purchase here in Haiti.

You delivered. We woke up to a $190 PayPal donation and quickly made plans to go to the pharmacy later in the afternoon. Here's what we got. 

It's an amazing start. 

There are some awesome hospitals in Haiti and awesome doctors and nurses too. The reality is that people too far removed from these facilities wait and wait and wait and sometimes never do scrounge up the money for transportation to the hospital to care of the little things. If they do find a way to the hospital scrounging up enough money to pay for lab tests and medication is yet another obstacle to health. 

That's why you find wounds that were never sutured...

Fungal infections that have taken over... itchy rashes that keep people up at night and spread amongst family members... 

and a whole assortment of other things that I won't mention that aren't for the faint of heart. 

So thank you. 

We're excited about the opportunity to partner with this church and reach out to a community that's sure to have a few health needs. We'll blog again after the big clinic day. :)

The week's not over yet and all donations made this week will still go to the purchase of medicine and first aid supplies. We'd love to make a trip to the pharmacy everyday! There are still items, like a scale for example, that we'd love to purchase for use in these clinics and in our facility (when we have one). 

Our ultimate goal is to promote hope and health not only for moms and their families, but for communities as well. This is perfect. 

As was mentioned in the last post if you have access to any specialized medical equipment or supplies we'd love to get you in touch with our next visitors. Dana and Warrick from Washington are coming the first week in April. It's not to late to send items to them before they leave!

We are especially in need of the following
-blood pressure cuff
-urinalysis strips
-supplies for dressing changes

Shoot us an email at

In other news, we had a fun time distributing anti-parasite medication to 300 school kids today! 
In collaboration with Operation Blessing who provided the de-worming tablets and the Caris Foundation who is facilitating distribution all over Haiti, we had the privilege of doing the dirty work. "Dirty work" simply because the medicine doesn't taste good. 

Children in Haiti between the ages of 1 and 14 are supposed to receive de-worming medication every six months. Parasitic infections can cause pain, anemia, malnutrition, diarrhea and dehydration, missed days of school and altogether unhappy kiddos. 

Hopefully that won't be the case for students in this school. 

The 3 and 4 year olds lining up to wash their hands before snack time.

Jenn, a hundred names short of a hand cramp

Thanks for the love and continued support. 
Off to drink some grapefruit juice!!

Fresh garden gifts. : )

Monday, March 5, 2012

Just send the cash

Hope that title's not offensive... just our attempt to get you to read the blog or just to send the cash ;)

So many of you have asked us to share our needs. You want to know when and how to ship things to us. Well, at the moment we don’t have a shipping address and to be honest we aren’t sure that we are going to get one. It’s hard for us to tell people to ship things when there are local businesses we can support by buying those same items right here in town. Basically…

It costs money for you to purchase things to send.
Then you will also have to pay for the shipping to Florida which could cost you a fortune! 
When your package arrives in Haiti the recipient may need to pay a customs fee for the items. Then at the end of the month the recipient gets a bill from the charter company at a rate of $1.50 per pound. On top of that it may take 3-4 weeks to receive your shipment. So we have some pros and cons to weigh out before we take the “shipping address” plunge.

In the meantime there is still a way for you to get specific items into the hands and homes of the people we are here to serve. Why not just send the money instead?

I’m writing this post because in two weeks we will be facilitating a clinic at a church in a rural village. It’s time to stock up on medicine and supplies. 

While driving in town it’s not uncommon to see two or three pharmacies on the same block. 

I bet you didn't realize these pharmacies were so legit! 

Amy and I went to a pharmacy last week to get price quotes for different medications, creams, and first aid supplies that treat the common conditions here in Haiti. We’re pleased to report that the prices are very reasonable. A round of Amoxicillin comes to a whopping 60 cents and two months worth of infant multivitamin syrup is just $1.25.

Or in other words…

$5 covers enough anti-fungal cream for 6 people.
$10 is enough to treat 50 people for worms.
$12 pays for enough antibiotic cream to treat 20 infected wounds.
$15 pays for 10 pregnant women to receive a month’s worth of prenatal vitamins
$18 can treat 6 infants with thrush
$20 buys enough antibiotic to cover 8 skin infections.
$30 can treat 24 children with respiratory, skin, or ear infections


We know that there are certain medical supplies that will be harder to find here. If anyone has access to any of the following items, or any others send us a message!

-  Otoscope

-  Urinalysis testing strips
- Blood pressure cuff 

We will continue to make sure that medical supplies get into the hands of people coming into Haiti. 
(Our next visitors come in April.)

While these meds are reasonably priced by our standards, the cost is too often too much for a Haitien family to manage. With just a small donation you can help take the burden off of many sick and suffering. And with a big donation...well the possibilities are endless. :)