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!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My favorite moments, part 2

If you read our blog regularly you probably noticed that the amazing Jenn just wowed us with four blog posts in a row. This was a personal record for her.

I wish I could say that I'm trying to give her a run for her money with two back to back posts!! Yeah me!!  But that would be a lie. Truth is. Jenn saved you all from one, ridiculously long, single post. She pre-read my "favorite moments" and suggested that I cut them in two. You can thank her later. 

Opening Thoughts

We've had moms and babies at the land for just about 10 days now. These women and their children are what busy me most during the day. The four moms that have spent time at Second Mile in the last 10 days have all had one thing in common: they have no other children. The child in their arms is their first and only.  We always ask how many times have you given birth and how many living children do you have and I always get the chills when they reply, "only this one." 

Since it is so common within the most impoverished parts of Haiti for a family to lose one or more children to malnutrition and preventable illness (like diarrhea), receiving a mom and her very first child feels kind of like we get to challenge those statistics. It's like, boom, take that "statistics," this mom doesn't have to lose this child or any child, ever. 

And on that note, I give you a few more of my favorite moments. 

saturday entertainment provided by jenn.. the moms stick close to their one and onlies 

Not everyone stays. 

Not more than two weeks ago I went with our new health educator and community health agent, Kerline, to visit a few local hospitals and health centers. Our goal on these visits was to let the staff in these institutions know about our facility and to share our contact information. 

It's important to tell you that some of the hospitals and clinics have a service called PTA, which is a French acronym that means "outpatient treatment program"  for malnutrition. Sites with PTA programs use the same wonderful product we use which is called Plumpy'Nut, or Medika Mamba. The children come in once a week to be weighed and to receive their weekly ration of the specially formulated, vitamin packed, peanut butter goodness. These are great programs and help save thousands of lives in Haiti. I'm sure that as more and more facilities obtain funding for PTA programs Haiti will begin losing less and less children to malnutrition each year.

All that to say, whenever I speak to the staff of these programs I'm careful to state that our facility doesn't aim to replace the work they are doing. Rather, we're on standby.  If the staff sees fit, they can refer children who aren't progressing, cases where the caregiver can't afford to travel to the clinic once a week, and cases of repeat severe malnutrition where we might be able to help identify and address the underlying problems faced by the family. 

I received a phone called on a Wednesday, the day after our little field trip. 

"You have case for me?" I asked the nurse over the phone. Her response was, “Se pa yon, non. Gen plizye.” Not one, but several.  Since this particular facility had a program like the ones I just described, I knew that her having “several cases” meant that she hadn’t fully understood what I was sure had been a brilliant explanation of what we do. Oops.. Kerline headed out to site to get to bottom of it. 

I had explained to the nurse that if the family had the means to travel once a week for Plumpy'Nut and if the child was improving then there was no need for referral. These kids were already on the path to recovery through the hospital’s own programs..

..but alas, there were 15 kids waiting when Kerline arrived.

Some were just moderately malnourished. 

Some were accompanied by a sibling or a friend of the mother's so no decision could be made about coming out to Second Mile. 

Other moms just declined the offer. They either had too many other children at home or had obligations like selling food in the market.. or washing clothes...

Kerline spoke with all of them. She took particular note of two children she thought probably didn't need to come to Second Mile. They looked to be in pretty good shape. She wrote down their weights and ages though so that she could check the growth charts when she got back. Sure enough, these kids were fine. Just slightly underweight. 

Today, one of those babies showed up. 

Kerline received them at the gate, wide-eyed. Another oops... She'd forgotten to call the mom.

We brought them in for an evaluation anyway and I liked this woman instantly. This 12 month old baby was her only child. You could tell she would do anything for him. She was still breastfeeding which is such a good sign! She came with soup she had prepared for him that morning. She had listened to Kerline’s instructions at the clinic, packed everything she would have needed to stay. She showed incredible effort. She even brought his vaccination card which is another sign that this mom has it together. 

The vaccination card was particularly telling. It showed that she routinely brought her son to the clinic for check ups. There was a weight listed for every month of his life. It showed that he had been progressing normally from ages 0 - 10 months. Only recently had it taken a slight dip. The family lived within walking distance from the clinic that was already providing him with nutritional supplements. 

There was no reason for them to stay. 

I took the liberty of chatting with the mom about nutrition anyway since they were going to wait for our midday meal and a ride back to town. She couldn’t initially define “malnutrition” nor was she familiar with the 3 food groups we talk about in Haiti. But after I walked her through the types and causes of malnutrition and gave her examples of the food groups she was able to rehearse them back to me with shocking precision. She would have been our star pupil. 

But that’s the beauty of it. Not everyone needs to stay. :) 

Watching a baby’s butt heal. (a much shorter story)

Clearly we believe in Haiti’s health system and we wish for people of all ages to be able to make use of its services, but frankly not everyone can. Without going into the many complexities, I will say that simply not every one has enough money to pay for transportation to their nearest facility, or to pay the visit, lab, and medication fees once they arrive. As was the case of a boy named Anderlin. Anderlin is 21 months old and was born with spina bifida. He was referred to us by our friends at Children of the Promise who helped save his life (literally) by taking him to get surgery in the Dominican Republic shortly after he was born. I don't know his life history, but he looks great! The surgery and recovery must have gone well because Anderlin is a healthy and happy boy. 

Expect for his bum. 

Recently he sat on something scalding hot.  The result was three small, pressure sore-like wounds on his der·ri·√®re. To make matters worse, he has a very itchy skin infection around his buttocks, legs, and his back. 

His sixteen-year-old mom doesn’t have a dollar to her name. She could not afford to travel to the closest clinic for dressing changes. Quite perfectly, Anderlin and his mom live en-route to our facility. I pick them up each morning and they ride back with me in the evening. Anderlin gets all the nursing care he needs during the day. His mom gets to participate and gets all the benefits of the health and hygiene classes and the time they spend at the land falls across two meal period.  Because Anderlin is not malnourished they really don’t need to spend the night. I think it is a win-win for everyone. 

My favorite part of this arrangement is watching the wounds heal. I love wound care. I love it. There’s nothing better than watching a wound get better. Expect maybe watching malnourished babies get better...  

Anderlin and his mom

***To the COTP staff involved in getting surgery for Anderlin,  I commend you. He's a big healthy boy. What a miracle. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Moments, Part 1

Meeting Chantal.

I really love this mother. 

We were expecting her, although in true “this is Haiti” fashion had no idea when she would show. I had asked that the hospitals to go ahead and give us a call at the time of the referral so that we could make arrangements for transportation. But when this particular nurse called, Chantal and her baby had already left the clinic. 

So we waited... pretty skeptical that they would even show at all. Then, also in true “this is Haiti” fashion Chantal shows up in the wrong village at the wrong place. But they were kind enough to call my number which was on her reference form and since our Director lives in that village he was able to swing over and drive her out to our site. It was evening already, but Jenn and I headed back out to the land to meet her. 

Chantal’s baby is not actually her baby. Well, it is now. But it wasn’t always. Let me explain. Chantal’s friend and neighbor, and the mother of this child, died five months ago. Allow yourself to call to mind one of the top killers in the developing world and you will at once land upon her cause of death. Chantal jumped in as the baby’s caregiver. The child was four month’s old, sick, and in need of milk. At the time, the nearest clinic possessed a small stash of infant formula. Chantal was taking the child to the clinic to receive infant formula every week. And the baby was doing well. But the baby's father stopped coming around and then the clinic’s stash of formula ran dry. Then the baby had some diarrhea. And he we are, in the present, and our little friend is 9 month’s old and weighs 9.6 lbs.  

Why do I love Chantal? Because she didn’t once stop smiling. Not once, as she matter-of-factly shared the details of her life, did she stop smiling. She is 20 years old.... She is 6 months pregnant... and on and on the details of her life unfold. She has a very apparent visual disability which I thought she might allude to as she shared of her troubles. But she never mentioned it.  In no way was she complaining about her plight. Though she hadn’t eaten today... Though she had sacrificed her own small soda selling business to pay off her mother’s bank loan... She didn't complain; She didn’t stop smiling; And she didn’t ask for help. We talked about the possibility of her coming back to Second Mile Haiti the following morning since it was late and she didn’t have any of her belongings with her. Chantal wasn't sure that a morning rendezvous would necessarily work out so well. Her reason, she had to wash clothes (by hand of course) for all the people living in her home. Aside from her mother she was the oldest and that was her responsibility. Since she had been at the clinic with the baby that week. There must have been a considerable pile accumulating.

The more questions I asked the more I wanted to know this sweet girl. Something about her was intriguing! Then out of her mouth came the line of all lines: “I’ve started with this child. I don’t see any reason not to finish.” That was a bit of a raw translation but frankly, she wasn’t asking for a way out of taking care of this baby, sick though he was. She did however have some doubts that her mother would agree to her spending the night at our facility. 

Although it seemed she wanted to take advantage of this opportunity for her and the 9 month old, Chantal, being 20, is ultimately at the mercy of her mother. And if the final decision doesn't lie with her mother, than it is the father of the baby she is carrying who will have the final say. Kerline spoke with the mom on the telephone and even visited the family at home. Chantal’s mother has warmed up to the idea but still, Chantal must wait until the father of the baby she is carrying to come back around so she can broach the subject with him. 

This might not sound like a positive story. Even so, meeting Chantal was the highlight of my week. 

Helping a Dad see hope through a growth chart.

One of our mom and baby duos receives a daily visit from the baby’s papa. He’s adorable. He being the dad, not the baby. I mean the baby is adorable too....(that’s awkward). But the dad is something special. Today I enjoyed a lengthy conversation with him that I hope put his fleeting heart at ease. There had been a misunderstanding and he needed some clarification. The concern he was feeling for his son seemed all encompassing, but his son was doing well, so whatever was bothering him, I wanted to clear things up fast. 

He started out by saying “maybe... I just don’t understand all the terminology.” While we do say a lot of funny words that a parent wouldn’t normally hear unless, their child was being treated for malnutrition, terms and language weren’t the issue. The mom and the dad had both mistakenly remembered that baby’s weight had gone up to 4.7 kg. So when the mom tells the dad that little Kerly weighs only 4.1 kilos this morning, poor papa was sufficiently scared! He wanted an explanation and some peace of mind. Little Kerly had never weighed 4.7 kg, making today's weight a personal record.

It was the perfect teaching moment and a great opportunity to do what I love to do... to give the silver lining. Kerly is gaining weight at an acceptable rate. Not too fast, not too slow. I showed Papa a paper which graphs Kerly’s daily weights... he smiled when he noticed that today’s weight was in fact the most little Kerly had weighed, to date. He asked more questions. I explained how happy I am that Kerly weighs 4.16 kilograms today. I tried to give him some perspective. “Since he weighed just 4.08 kg yesterday, I would have even been happy if he weighed just 4.09 kilograms today”... He smiles and nods. “I wouldn’t be so happy if weighed in at 4.07 kg though,” I added that last bit, just to be clear that gains make us happy and that losses prompt us to become problem solvers, and do things different. I emphasize that Kerly is progressing well, that we should be happy. Dad gets it and keeps smiling. He’s interested in knowing how much Kerly needs to weigh to be at a normal weight for his age. We crack open the vaccination card that has Haiti’s growth chart conveniently printed on the inside. Kerly is six months old. An average weight for his age is all the way at 6.5 kg but we don’t jump that far... I show him the point on the chart that says 4.5 kg. “In a week,” I say, “it’s possible for Kerly to weigh 4.5 kg.” This weight sits right on the bottom edge of the growth chart's colored pathways. It toes the line. Entering the path means Kerly would graduate to a state of moderate malnutrition. I point to it again. “Look,” I say, “getting there is not so, so great yet, but it's progress! It’s like Kerly would have one foot in one foot out.” 

 “Okay, okay, okay” he says, laughing and nodding. He totally gets it. We started talking about goals for when Kerly is 7 months old which means we must be feeling more hopeful by now. 

It's not everyday you talk to a papa who cares so much about each and every gram of weight gain. It was a privilege and pleasure to talk to this one.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Marie Ange Post.

For several days I have been thinking about how I would tackle the subject I am writing about in this blog post. Can you believe this is my 4th blog post in just a week's time. I should get a prize for blogger of the week or something at least. :) 

Okay so here it is. Claire and Marie Ange.

As you know, Claire and Marie Ange were the first mom and baby admitted to our facility. They were referred by COTP (our old stomping grounds). COTP had taken tried to help Marie Ange through their mamba and formula programs and then eventually took her in for two week's time. Then when we were ready to open our doors they  referred her to us because of the mom's attachment to her. So, in mid-May they entered our facility. We had ups and downs, and faced many battles. She was even hospitalized at one point during her stay. She would gain weight and then she would lose it. And we struggled with the fact that the hospital didn't want her to start on meds she needed for her condition unless she could be cleared of TB (tuberculosis). Gosh, rough life huh? If Marie Ange was started on these meds it could change her life significantly. These meds would keep her from being hospitalized for things like a simple cold. Just right before Amy and I headed back to the States for 3 weeks Marie Ange was finally cleared for TB and was able to start on these meds. She was ready to go home. Claire felt comfortable heading home, and she was especially excited to start her business.

While Amy and I were in the States we found out, unfortunately, that Marie Ange ended up getting really sick and was hospitalized. Luckily, our on the ground staff was able to provide transportation and kept an eye out for her while she was in the hospital. Amy and I didn't think she was going to make it. Honestly, I was preparing to send money down so that we could help with funeral arrangements. Marie Ange's weight dropped to 3.6 kg which is a little under 8 lbs. Can you imagine a 22 month old baby weighing less then 8 lbs? I can tell you that it's rare even in Haiti. 

Shortly after Amy and I returned to Haiti we met with Claire and Marie Ange. Marie Ange had gained some weight since her hospitalization and the amazing part was simply that she was still here.

We planned with Claire about returning to Second Mile; what would that look like?; and when? 

Now here are some things I have been struggling and battling within myself. Here I am, being completely honest... 

Last Monday when Amy and I saw Marie Ange I was so frustrated. I was frustrated because she wasn't gaining weight and I could hardly bare to look at her skin and bones. I swear the clothes added on 5 lbs, at least. Claire had mentioned her business was doing extremely well which I was happy about until I learned about a couple of purchases that she made with her profits. I was frustrated when she told me she purchased a new bed for almost $60 especially when I had already told her she could return back to SMH where she has a bed with her name on it. Claire mentioned she was putting $2.50 in a "sang" each day. A "sang" is almost like a bank account. Many Haitians don't believe in putting their money in an official bank account because they can too easily withdraw money, making it hard to save. So instead, they participate in groups called a "sang." These can consist of neighbors, co-workers, family members, or friends and they are led by a sang leader, the person who collects money from all the participants. Depending on the group, you will put money in this pot either daily, weekly, or monthly. The sang leader collects the money and will distribute it to one person in the group each month. The idea of the group is that you can never take your money back and you never know when it will be your month to receive the money. So, it functions like a savings account with a lock on it.  Since Marie Ange is so sick , I didn't find it wise for Claire to invest money in this group. She needs to have access to her money at any given moment for medical bills, hospitalizations, meds, and formula. I was so irked when Claire told me she ran out of formula the day before she visited us and wasn't sure when she would be able to purchase another can of formula. We pressed her. She said she could probably by a can the following Monday. 8 days later!! The last can of formula cost us roughly $9 which is the equivalent of about 4 days worth of money Claire was putting in the "sang." At this point in our discussion I'm having a hard time not grilling Claire for purchasing a bed when Marie Ange's needs are so clearly evident, to me.

August 20th - 4.8 kg 
A follow-up visit with Marie-Ange where the plan was made to return to Second Mile
Dadou, Amy and I decided Claire needed some tough loving. Amy emphasized how Marie-Ange's body won't be able to stand the next sickness she may have and Dadou and I talked with her about the "sang" and what she needed to do with the profits of her business. We stressed that Marie Ange needs her right now and that as soon as she gains weight Claire won't have to worry about all these extra expenses of formula, hospital stays, etc. The talk went well. That's when we decided she would come to our facility two days later and that she would figure out how to bring a can of formula, even if it was just a small one, with her. We worked out all the details with the "sang" and what she needed to sell in the next day to purchase a can of formula. 

Wednesday arrives, the day Marie Ange and Claire were to be picked up and driven out to our facility. It turns out Claire had received a call from her aunt who asked her to go and stay with her for a couple days. Her aunt lives out in the country approx 1 1/2 hours away from the city. So here is the second time I was livid and extremely extremely frustrated. I was pacing. I didn't understand. We needed to be picking up Claire and Marie Ange that day to come to our facility, but Claire insisted they needed to go. She insisted she would be returning to our facility as soon as she got back from her aunt's house. Amy and I didn't think Marie Ange could survive the trip let alone survive the week. We had a bad, sinking feeling. Dadou and the employees were disappointed Claire and Marie wouldn't be arriving that day. Everyone was nervous.

After Amy and I put our heads together. We decided we would offer to watch Marie Ange while her mother left for the country. Her mom said yes. So that's what happened next. Marie Ange came to stay with us on Wednesday night.

Here's where it all turns around. 

Claire shows up with Marie Ange in hand. Marie Ange was nicely dressed. Claire had packed all of her medications (over 10 bottles), along with clothes, blankets, toothbrush, comb, etc...etc... and lastly a can of formula. I couldn't help but slightly smile. At that moment, I was significantly less irritated. I melted a bit. 

Claire started to rattle off all the different times Marie Ange needed to take her medication. She promised to call frequently to check on her. I melted even more. 

Marie Ange stayed with us for three nights, and those were 3 very long nights. Marie Ange doesn't sleep through the night like most 2 yrs olds do and she requires a whole lot of attention. It took Amy and I taking shifts during the day/night to fully meet all of her needs. Two of us! I felt bad because one night I was extremely sick and Amy had to do most of the work!

Babysitting at Jenn and Amy's apt.

We are happy to say in just 3 days she gained a pound. When you are 2 years old and weigh 10.5 lbs we celebrate even the 1/2 pound achievements. Everyday, for all of us, is a celebration. It means Marie Ange is still here. 

When I look back and really evaluate the situation this is how I feel:

I don't think Claire is doing a bad job with Marie Ange. I think Claire was dealt a very difficult hand. I think about the day I was sick and wasn't able to move, but I had Amy there. It makes me think about the times Claire is sick, but instead she has no one. I don't think Claire is a bad person for purchasing the bed. I think she was excited about how well the business was doing and felt like she deserved a bed for her and her baby. Whoever thinks…"hey I got a bonus so maybe I will finally buy a bed" …no one. And I don't think she's a bad person for investing in the "sang." I think she was honestly thinking about Marie Ange's future in a different way then I would think about it. I especially don't think Claire is a bad person for heading out of town to visit her aunt on a moment's notice, because to tell you the truth when you don't have a whole lot of family and one suddenly calls then you better make that a priority.

It is evident that this mom loves her child and we want this mom to have an opportunity to keep loving her child.

So here's what we decided. Marie Ange and Claire will be returning to our facility on Monday. Two days of each week Amy and I decided we will take Marie Ange for the night, if Claire started to seem exhausted. This will be good for two reasons… Claire can catch up on sleep and she will be well rested to run her business the next day at her house. Everyone will pitch in, and we will do our very best to make sure Claire knows we are her family and we are all in this together. I think this may be what we had in mind when we named the organization, Second Mile.

Update: Claire and Marie Ange returned our facility on Monday, and we have already seen an significant weight gain! Marie Ange now weighs 5.7 kg. Claire seems healthy and well rested! We couldn't be happier with the results of Claire and Marie Ange. Thank you for all your prayers.

Taken Tuesday, Sept 10th

Saturday, September 7, 2013

4 Very Different Stories

As everyone knows, we've made a priority of really evaluating the "first moms and babies" that had spent time at our facility. That includes looking at how the moms and kids are doing in their first few months after leaving Second Mile Haiti. We want our program to be very successful and we want it to be around for a long time, but for that to happen we need to make sure all of our bases are covered.

So when the moms left the facility I had a prediction as to who's business would be more successful. Here is my initial ranking, 1 through 4.

Guvensly's mom- 1
Witchana's mom-2
Marie Ange's mom-3
Dieuson's mom-4

Okay let's start with Guvensly's mom. First of all, this mom is a mom to 6 other children. That's 7 children in total that she needs to provide food, shelter, and meds to. Just think for a second if you had 7 children. Got the mental picture? I chose this lady to have the most successful business because of her knowledge. She scored the highest on all of the education exams and when Dadou asked which business she would prefer to do, she knew exactly what to say. It was like she had been dreaming it up for years. She knew where she would be selling all her merchandise, where she would go to purchase more, and exactly how much profit she could make from each item. It seemed like she was born to be in business. So, I put her as number #1. There is a couple things I should have factored in…like she still has 7 kids, and she also lives in a spot that doesn't draw much traffic (very few motos and horses, and no tap-tap access).

(Guyvensly's second day at SMM)

 (Guyvensly at home)

Outcome: She still has her business. It may have decreased a bit in terms of merchandise but it's still going strong. Dadou says that the reason she still is successful is that as soon as she runs out of an item she will buy it right away so that she doesn't spend the money. Props to Guvensly's mom for being able to take care of 7 children and still run a successful business.

Ranking now: 2
At Second Mile with her merchandise

Guyvensly's moms business at home - Look at that huge sack of detergent! 

Secondly, we have Witchana's mom. Many of you remember Witchana's mom from all of Amy's blog posts. Witchana was very successful at our property. She only stayed 11 days and in those 11 days her mom was able to see her gain weight, clap her hands, and stand up! Witchana and her mom live at the bottom of the Citadel. So I figured that could play an important role in her business strategy seeing as it's the most popular tourist place in Cap Haitien. I am happy to say Witchana's mom has had the most success in her business. Not only is she selling the same original merchandise we purchased for her but she has expanded! Witchana's mom now sells gasoline which is a huge indication that her business is BIG! Do you know how many moto's run out of gas on the road to the Citadel? Yeah, a lot. 

Witchana's mom receives commerce

First check-up visit on Witchana

Outcome: Witchana looks amazing. Witchana's mom seems extremely happy and blessed. We are excited to see what her business will look like after 6 months time.

Ranking now: 1
Witchana's mom has a total of 5 kids and lives with her mother and two younger sisters.
(that makes for a total of 4 adults and 5 kids at Witchana's house)
Everyone pitches in to help customers!

Thirdly, Dieuson's mom. Dieuson's mom was an interesting character. Many people in the facility would always say "her head is somewhere else." It took her a little longer then everyone else to learn the health education part and it took Dadou a couple more lessons in business to explain profit. That's okay though! I know we all have our weak spots. I was sad to say that her business failed. She no longer has any merchandise to sell. I was bummed until Dadou explained exactly why she no longer has any merchandise left. Dieuson was battling a few different infections in the months of July and August. This kid was extremely sick and had stacks and stacks of medical bills that needed to be paid and meds that needed to be purchased. And you know what? She was able to purchase all of them and pay all of her bills off. And lets not forget that in order for her to make it to all of Dieuson's follow-up visits at the hospital, she had to pay for transportation to and from each of those visits. All of these are things she would have not been able to do before she entered our facility. So yes, her business failed but she was able to give her son the meds and treatment he needed and he didn't even lose any weight during that time. To be honest, Dieuson was the child we may have worried about the most because of his mom's lack of education. But we are happy to say Dieudson is healthy and is still gaining weight! 

Recent follow-up visit to Dieuson's house. If you remember Dieuson took his first steps at Second Mile.

Looks like he makes his Grandma proud!

Outcome: While Dieuson's mom was in our facility she worked the hardest out of all the moms. She was determined to show us that she was a hard worker. We realized her business failed, but we realized it failed because her son had an extremely rough month. Starting next week Dieuson's mom will have the opportunity to work at our facility for 2-3 weeks to raise money to re-purchase her merchandise. While woking at the facility Dadou will take the opportunity to invest in her a little more. She will have to attend more classes and we are hoping she will gain knowledge on profits, record keeping, and a plan for the business.

Ranking now: 4

And lastly there is Marie-Ange's mom. This mom has had a daughter that has been extremely sick her entire life. She has been in and out of hospitals every month. We are still trying to very much invest in this mom, and trying to figure out the best way possible to do that. I think Amy is going to write a blog post on this soon. :) Anyway, Marie-Ange's mom stayed the longest in our facility. Her business ended up doing really well and she till has merchandise. What we are working on with Marie Ange's mom is record keeping and what she needs to be doing with her profit.

Outcome: Marie Ange and her mom will actually come back and stay in our facility. She will continue to work on our property for her room, board, and food. Two days a week she will go off to her house in the city to work on her business. While she is staying in our facility we don't want her business to fail, but unfortunately Marie Ange is not out of the woods and needs 4 or 5 sets of eyes watching her daily. 

Ranking now:3

In summary.. 3 of the 4 kids have all continued to gain weight. Marie Ange, who hasn't gained weight will be returning to our facility so that we can give her mom the extra help she needs. 3 of the 4 moms still have successful businesses. Dieuson's mom will start work on Tuesday at SMM. She will have a second chance to save money for her business.

So far we couldn't have asked for better results. We are so very proud of all of our moms and their businesses and we are especially proud that they continue to have fat and healthy babies. :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Day in the -brain- of Jenn

A few months ago I posted a "Day in the Life of Jenn" post. People really seemed to like it and wanted more. I figure it's an easy way to contribute to the blog, ya know, do my share. All I have to do is spill what's in my brain. But hang on; there's a lot in there. 

Well, I recently went back to the States to see my family and to attempt to do a bit of fundraising. Props to my family for realizing I can come back to Texas more often if there is fundraising involved. Hence my sister is becoming Second Mile's number one bead seller in the States this year. :)

After exactly one week it was back to Haiti for me. I am back now. If you are all wondering…I'm still in love with Haiti and I will plan to be here as long as God will let me. For me, first day back usually means working on fiances, databases, updating my super sweet spreadsheets, and trying to socialize. 

On my second day back, I head out to the land as early as possible and meet with my side kick, a.k.a. Dadou (the Haitian director of SMH). Of course there were bananas waiting for me on the kitchen counter of the staff apartment. He has figured out that bananas are the way to my heart (which is slightly true) and they are a good back-up in case he forgot anything/didn't do something while I was gone. I guess you could say they are like bribery with a peace offering on top. The topics of our conversation were: how did the employees do while I was gone; how's the irrigation system; did we change out the cow for a different cow that that will produce even more milk?; did we have any generator and battery issues and do the batteries have enough water?; prayer for the solar panels to come in; how we are so thankful for the vet; how we need to sanitize the recovery homes for our moms and babies who will be entering our facilities next week;  how the employees ran out of rice (not my fault, and how he needs to prepare better); finding another rabbit; will we have security guards when we receive solar panels?; how Dadou's family is doing; prayer for more school funds to come; him pressuring me to rent the space for the goats/cows; and lastly, him asking me how the surprise went with my family. All these topics were covered in about ten minutes. We are getting that efficient.

Ok good I was caught up. I felt really good with where we were at on the land. I felt good about the gardens, employees, animals, and the overall mood of the land. The trip to land also gave us some ideas on which aspects we need to start improving especially before we open our doors again (which will be on Tuesday or Wednesday ::)

Someone in Texas asked me what I will be focusing on when I get back. Well in order to really answer that question I must first spend time checking out our bank accounts and budgeting for our projects.

For instance… solar panels are coming in soon. They have been fully funded. Holllller. Pretty exciting huh? The panels are on there way to Cap Haitien and a team will be here in 5-6 weeks to install them. We were a little delayed getting them to Haiti since the first time they arrived in Florida they arrived damaged. Yeah, that sucked.

Since the solar panels are coming I will have a sweet team of electricians come down to install them, but before then there are materials I will need to purchase and some constructing I need to do on the roof to make it worthy of holding solar panels. I will also dig a line from the electrical building to the security tower/depot (which is on the back half of the property) so that we can give that building power. The main reason I want to do this is because then the well in the back will be connected to the solar system and run completely from solar power. Okay, that was extremely boring and sorry if I lost you there.

So here's what I ponder next during my day: renting another piece of land. While I was in the States, the money was raised to rent another 2 acres for grazing for the animals/more gardens. Exciting huh?

And….we received another $2000 to spend on purchasing more animals. 

How cool huh? Well it is, very cool, except that in order to feel comfortable making those purchases, Second Mile needs to be in a good financial place where we won't have to worry about our monthly budget for the next 3 months. This is why I am always checking our good ol' Bank of America account and currently working on strategies to get $10,000 in our account so that we can begin moving forward. Is everyone tracking with me? So I spend some time figuring out how many paper-bead bracelets, necklaces, and lanyards we have on hand. We actually have a $3,500 worth of jewelry ready to sell! My focus is to get those moving. This money benefits our beading employees, moms, and our business programs which make up a big part of our expenses as an organization.

By the way if you haven't checked out these beads they are gorgeous and they only tend to get better and better with time. :) They are a great way to get conversation started about Haiti, about families in Haiti, about Second Mile Haiti... you get the gist. 

Jewelry Sample and Prices - Contact us to order!

If you'd like to purchase any of these items or think you might be able to help us sell them, or if need more info, then just send us a message on our Facebook page, Second Mile Ministries

Okay, so back to what's going on in my head right now:
My goals: Work on getting more money for our general budget.
Then rent the space for our cows and goats to freely roam.
Purchase 100 chickens.

Oh and I can't forget maintaining the property while we have moms and babies and making sure the education, business, and gardening classes are happening. 

Then I take time out of my day to dream about future projects: finishing Dadou's office (plastering the walls, tiling, and finishing the windows), getting him set up with office supplies, starting the process of teaching him how to use a computer so that he can be just as good at spreadsheets as I am ;)), and finishing our sewing/beading room. We have two empty rooms attached to the education center and we want to turn one of those rooms into a workshop room for the ladies while the other will be an office for Dadou/employees. For the sewing room this includes plastering the walls, tiling, and finishing windows, as well as getting some decent equipment in the room. (this is more Amy's future project. ::) I just build.

And last thing to work on.. just love. Love when it's hard to love. Try to remember that God is love, and love always wins.

So this is what I'm working on in a nut shell. Ah, nut shell reminds me of peanut shells which is what I should be collecting today for mulching our gardens... It never ends. :)