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, October 22, 2012

cement bags + scratch paper = masterpiece.

jenn here.  i've posted a fair amount of “i love my life" statuses recently. this post should have a similar feel.  

i wake up and fall asleep excited about where i am at and the things i get to be involved in on a daily basis. 

my life is fun, and fulfilling, and God is right there in it. i couldn’t be happier. 

we’re building again. i know at least a few people who would be happy to know that the guys are back in action. 

we have a great team. i think they are really starting to get me and my penny pinching ways. for example, we needed to pick up cement today. 15 bags to be exact. dadou mentioned that he would swing buy to pick up the truck to haul the cement out  to the land. i stopped him. and i could tell that he immediately knew why. moto. not truck. the $3.50 it would cost to deliver the cement to the land by moto is less than the cost of diesel to get the truck out to the land and back. every little bit counts and they know i care about these things. these guys have gone the extra mile with these projects. they deserve   a blog post just to say how great they are. but that's not exactly where i am going with this one.. 

this is where we will stay. nice and simple. that's the bathroom and the kitchen. and that's hilary clinton. well it's the plane she flew in to Cap Haitien this afternoon. i actually dressed up just in case i got to meet her...maybe next time. 


i love to be at the land. i see God there more than any other place. it's amazing to stand on the roof of either building and see the expanse of land that has so much promise. it's crazy to sit off to the side under the shade and watch the work happen. i'm a human working with a whole bunch of other error prone humans. we could have screwed this up in so many different levels along the way. but God's in control and he hasn't let that happen. with each bit of progress i am blown away by just how perfectly the pieces fit together. 

our God is perfect. and he's a beautiful artist. 

i also just love the building process. 

for me it's numbers and calculations and spreadsheets. 
and it all starts on the inside of a bag of cement (yea, we recycle). then it gets official in my notebook and even more official in my google doc (i have a thing for functions)

for amy it's about sketching and doodling apparently. 

actually, the only thing we had in terms of official plans was this here little sketch. and it turned into the clinic. 

after that we mostly just got down to business with tape measures, and levels, and string to mark things out. 
we had to laugh at ourselves the day we took this little drawing to the land to lay the foundation for the mom and baby homes... but everything worked out. oh so perfectly. 

these are some of the things that make up my days here... getting supplies, calculating costs, making decisions about the building and hanging out with the workers. and i think that's why i am so happy. in all these things i get to be blown away by God's greatness. i get to see him work in the lives of the guys that come to work each day. i get to see him provide. and i get to see his glory when i sit back and take it all in. it's about Him. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

life in Haiti

300 gouds 


we had to meet kelinise today, on the side of the road, to give her money for laboratory tests she will have done on thursday at the hospital. 

it wasn't yet time for her monthly appointment but she checks her sugars at home. they'd been high. she suspected another infection. i knew she was going to the hospital today but i didn't ask if she had money to get there. i didn't want to know. she called several times between 8 am and 9 am. i didn't answer. I wanted to pretend that if i didn't answer my phone that it meant she'd be fine. if i didn't answer the phone I wouldn't have to deal with where she was or how much money she didn't have or how we'd get it to her. i picked up on the sixth time and she was fine. she was at the hospital and had already been seen by the best doctor this side of heaven (in my opinion). she was waiting for the lab orders. she had, in fact, had enough money to get to the hospital and enough money to take the tap-tap back into town. she would wait for us under the stop light. yes, the same place where we met up with her after last week's dressing change to give her money to get home.* the lab tests would cost $300 gouds.  

*home. it's not her home exactly. it's the home of someone her father knows. he has to pay this individual for her to stay there. with what money? i don't know. he has 14 children. he loves kelinise and is generous with her. but she is not welcome in his wife's home. he works in the fields and sometimes sends coconuts and avocados to Jenn and I when Kelinise makes the hour trip into Cap Haitien and then on to Milot for her doctor visits. her mother? Kelinise's mother has a total of six children but a stroke paralyzed her and rendered her unable to care for herself. she is now living with an adult child in the Dominican Republic. her house? the house where Kelinise used to live with her mother is being rented by another family. they don't want kelinise to stay in the house unless her brother is there with her. they fear her illness. what if something happened to her in the middle of the night? then what? maybe they fear that they'd have to rush her to the hospital if something went wrong. that would cost them money. 

no one wants to be responsible for these expenses. no one. 

her brother? her brother sounds like a nice guy. we've talked to him on the phone a few times. he cares about kelinise too. but he's trying to put himself through school. he would have only one year of school left had he not failed the national exam. twice. you only get two chances or you lose the school year. kid's in Haiti go to school for 14 years not counting any years that have to be repeated. it's hard to say if a 21 year old putting himself through school will have it in him to push through not one but two more years at this point. for many kids in the Haitian school system, that's just the end of the line. 

kelinise is 18. she's in 5th grade. Or she would be in 5th grade if she was enrolled in school. many people have given up on her education. the director of her last school took her books and her uniform and told her not to come back. she was too sick. children in Haiti get punished for being sick. 

in the time we been connected with kelinise she's been hospitalized 4 times, been prescribed 6 different blood pressure medication, suffered from 4 painful abscesses, begun treatment for neuropathy, been diagnosed with retinopathy, and gone from taking 30 units of NPH insulin a day to 45 units. after today's visit she thinks the doctor will increase her dose again. 

Jenn's quoted this article before but I think it's worth revisiting. there's an article posted on the hospital's website that discusses diabetes in depth. it doesn't talk to much about type 1 diabetes however, except to acknowledge that many cases of DKA (super high blood sugar that leads to shock) were seen after the earthquake when children lost access to their source of insulin. and then it says this line: "Type 1 Diabetics are not commonly seen in Milot. This is most likely the result of premature death."

we actually have two 18 year old friends who've defied the odds and are living with type 1 diabetes. the difference between Kelinise and Milonia is that Milonia has a mom. she has someone that she can call during the day when she isn't feeling well. she has someone that believes in her enough to send her to school even though she might not be able to attend everyday, even though she might never make it past the 5th grade. 

God caused our paths to cross with Kelinise's. we weren't able to turn away or say, "no." we fell in love with her smile and the way she said "take me with you" the day our American doctor friend called to tell us about a girl who was diabetic and living by herself; a girl he didn't think would survive. our involvement in her life has been tricky and delicate. her family situation is complicated and messy. we've tried to tread softly and we've tried not to screw up. 

to be completely honest we don't know what to do. we buy some food items for her each month yet after last month's visit the doctor called us into her office and told us that kelinise has lost too much weight. of course, we see it too. she couldn't more than 80 lbs. 

"we do give her food. maybe she's sharing it," we offered. 

"she's definitely sharing. they will always share. maybe you just have to give more" the doctor concluded matter of factly. "i'll try and get her into the food program at the hospital. it's for TB patients and i don't know how much pull i will have but i'll try." 

we thanked her and she thanked us back with unexpected sincerity. her and her husband, the hospital's lead surgeon, love kelinise. they treat her in a special way. they go the extra mile and they know she can't pay them back for it. i'd be lying if i told you i didn't wish that some nice Haitian family would just take her in. they'd be my first choice. 

so we pay for hospital expenses and transportation to and from the countryside where she lives near her dad. this allows her to receive care at Milot hospital's diabetes clinic whenever she is feeling ill.  we buy her insulin and insulin syringes, vitamins and the medications prescribed for her pain and hypertension. and we wait outside the room when she is getting her abscesses drained. 

we were with her in the hospital the day she turned 18. the physician was about to send her down to the peds ward because she looked no more than 14 and was wearing barrettes. A nurse piped in and told the doctor she was 17. i told the doctor that today was her 18th birthday. the doctor wished her a happy birthday and made a joke about the barrettes. i came back to her hospital bed later and the barrettes were gone. 18 year olds don't wear toys in their hair. 

statistics meet kelinise. kelinise meet adulthood. 

oh wait. you've been an adult ever since the day you were diagnosed. You've know this life ever since your family, hard as they tried, stopped being able to do anything to ease your pain.  

kelinise you are brave and courageous and your perseverance is...

we had to meet her on the side of the road today to give her 300 gouds ($7.50). no one else had that money. in Haiti $7.50 is too much. people die because $7.50 is impossible. 

no one wants these expenses.  and no one wants to watch a family member suffer. we get it. we understand. how she has survived this long…only God knows.  

it feels heavy. 

she has people who love her but they fear her illness. they fear the cost. they abandoned her. but now that she has access to medical care they've gotten her back. little by little we've watched her let them back into her life. 

she used to say she had nowhere to go. at one time she chose an orphanage over her family. now, at the end of a long day at the hospital she heads back up to her dad's. 

i've cried for her many times. i've woken up in a panic wondering whether she's still alive. i've fallen asleep praying for her. truth is we can't love her alone. we might need some more help.

i'm posting about kelinise because that hit me today. the whole $7.50 thing… i'm glad she feels like she has access to medical care. it's a human right, isn't it? but in the hands of her family she wouldn't. she wouldn't have access to medical care and that hurts. this is the very thing that makes us so passionate as we sit here in Haiti and fight for families and fight to create this thing called Second Mile Haiti…it's helping families get to a point where medical care is manageable and accessible and parents can ensure this for their children.

we want to open this up to the great community that reads this blog and follows our progress with Second Mile Ministries. $7.50 might sounds like nothing. it is. it's nothing. when she's not doing so well the visit total can easily climb closer to $75 (thus the statistics).  

here is her story.

i'm curious to see what God does through this group of people. i feel like we've set our sites too low on this one. i feel like He wants to invite us into the big plans that he does have for her scarred and sacred life. 

maybe its not too late to enroll her in school? maybe its vocational school instead? maybe she'll play a part in the future of Second Mile Haiti. 


i sort of love the word. maybe is made possible by the words of Phil 4:13. "i can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." whenever you think of it, please pray for our little friend. pray that God's plans for her life are realized and please pray especially that our humanness doesn't do anything to get in the way of that. 

and if you can contribute a small monthly sum towards this young lady's future please note 'kelinise' in the comments section when setting up your donation. 

to God be the glory for all He has done for his precious daughter. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


We’ve been quiet recently. You may have noticed this in our lack of facebook posts, pictures, and statuses. Our very handy friend from Wisconsin, Jason, was here in early September. So much was accomplished in a week (see Septic Tank on the projects page if your interested). But ever since he left we haven’t had anything in the way of construction happening at the land. When the funds aren’t there we take it as a message from the head boss to sit, relax, and concentrate on other things. That’s hard for me. It’s hard to sit at a computer, write emails, and focus on all the “adminstrative stuff.” It’s not fun! The only time I truly enjoy sitting at the computer is getting to use my prized google spreadsheets to calculate labor and materials. No work means I don’t get to  update my fun spreadsheets, no calculating... But He still says “sit, relax, and change focus.” 

So I do.... Last week I sat at the computer and wrote over 50 emails, 50 very important emails. Probably half of the emails were written to thank people for their support and encouragement. These personal thank you’s have been important to Amy and I. We are just two people down here. That seems small until you picture the hundreds of people standing behind us giving us support, encouragement, and prayer. It’s a cool mental picture huh? I hope if you’re reading this that you can picture yourself standing there. I hope we always take the time to thank you. 

I realize that when God says “sit” He’s not telling me to sit in front of a computer all day.  Sitting can mean taking the time to catch up with employees and enjoy meaningful conversation with them. Amy is very good at this. She is very good at taking time out of her day to listen to everyone’s story. Even if we can’t help a situation, at least people can feel that they’ve been heard. Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I am so busy that I offer a raincheck and then I don’t always follow through. This is something I was convicted of last week. So...I did my best to spend a good portion of time sitting with our employees. It’s amazing what happens when you do this. It’s really times like these that remind me why I fell in love with Haiti and how thankful I am for the people God’s placed in my life. It reminds you why you’re here. It reminds you that everyone needs Jesus, no matter what. We may be able to give people work, but it won’t matter unless they have Jesus in their lives. So what do I conclude from this? My heart needs to be prepared to share Jesus with people. Jesus needs to be shining through my words, thoughts, prayers, and the things I write.  

He says “relax.” Two weeks ago, when Jason was here Dorothy and Louisemene watched me leave everyday to head out to the land. They watched me come home for a few minutes each day only to turn around and head out again to work late into the day. Since I was doing such hard labor, they said, I needed to relax. Our lady employees were so kind as to grant me two weeks of vacation. I should have taken them seriously.  I was sick for two days after Jason left. Being sick is like being forced to relax. The next day I went to town running around on the moto. The following day I was sick again. Dorothy and Louiseman just laughed. They said that God was trying to tell me I needed to relax. I think they might of been up to something. It’s a different work here then I ever experienced in the States. Sometimes you feel like your mind will literally explode. When I have a conversation with someone I feel like my head isn’t even there. I’m already thinking about the next couple days or the next tough conversation I need to have with someone else. This isn’t good and I know it. Relaxing reminds me that everything should go to straight to God. Nothing should be kept in my head for too long. He’s got the whole world in his hands, my problems included. 

“Focus, he says, on me.” Even as I write this those words on sinking in. It’s like a spiritual revival up in here! My heart may have hardened a little but now its breaking free of any rust. My ears and eyes are refreshed both to hear His voice and to hear people’s hearts and stories. I’ve placed new importance on listening and concentrating my mind on Him. I’m renewed. I’m reminded that every day I need to make time to concentrate my heart. 

It’s been pretty evident here...after all that has been accomplished that when we stop waiting for money, it just comes.  This has been the theme of our organization over the last couple months. When there isn’t money to continue the building project its an opportunity for us to seek God’s direction and listen to where he wants us to focus our time and efforts. It may be sit, it may be relax, it may be listen. 

That being said, we’ve had some recent donations and the work is set to continue on Monday! School started this week! Its a crucial time when everyone needs money the most. Books, uniforms, tuition, lunch boxes, backpacks, school supplies, ribbons, socks, underwear, bus money, lunch money... I think you know the drill. School is expensive! All of our workers and employees have been saving up their money to send their kids to school. Everyone has high hopes and dreams for their kids. They want their children to have a better life. 

When I think about the money that just came in I don’t see it for its ability to bring progress. I don’t see it as bringing us a step closer to completion. I see it for its ability to employ a whole bunch of dads for another two weeks. I see it as school shoes, and backpacks, and bright colored material sitting in the laps of the seamstresses and tailors that make uniforms. More work for everyone. More kids in school. 

Big day for Daddy! Dadou's daughter, Tania. Very first day of school ever.

So what will be done in the next two weeks?

We will pour the roof on the recovery homes. Then 2,700 blocks will be made for the staff living quarters above the clinic, and four more rooms will be built above the “recovery homes” for sleeping quarters, office, and meeting space for our national staff. 


we will sit, concentrate, and relax.

I get it now. It’s important. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hanging out with Haiti Babi

Last week we had the privilege of hosting Katlin Jackson, founder of Haiti Babi. She came to check on her ‘baby.’ This organization and the concept to keep families together by teaching moms the skills of knitting and crocheting is her brain child. Over the past year, she and Kari Davidson, another young woman with an entrepreneurial spirit and amazing creative prowess have been working on this social enterprise start-up. They’re like us. And we like them. And we love the women they’ve chosen to employ. 

It’s a pleasure to be their on the ground partner and do what we can to help this organization grow.
For the past 2 months we’ve been housing Haiti Babi operations in our spare/volunteer apartment. Every morning three exceptionally sweet mamas mount the steep hill that leads to our home. They arrive with beads of sweat the size of gum drops sliding down their smiling faces and looks that say, “I’m ready.” They knew nothing of crochet before they were trained in the art this August. And now? Now we watch their growing confidence as they simultaneously create blankets for someone else’s babies and futures for their own.

We'll post about these women from time to time and soon you'll be able to purchase their handi-work.
Until then, follow their adventure on facebook!  We're stoked.

The Haiti Babi moms at work!