I woke up this morning with a great sense of dis-ease.
What’s happening in parts of the world is so unsettling. The humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria that is leading millions of people to leave their country in fear. The conflict-fueled hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan – and the threatening convergence that will lead to one of the greatest famine in history. The continued political and social unrest in Central America and the subsequent invisible refugee crisis that has erupted along the southern U.S. border. All of these challenges are weighing heavy on my mind.
This “mess” we seem to find ourselves in brings great feelings of sadness. I feel a little like a frog that’s been boiling slowly in a pot of hot water and then suddenly realizes what is happening to him – when it’s too late.
I am, however, a diehard optimist. I know that my feelings of sadness are not enough to spark change. I know that I need something to focus my efforts into. I need action.
In a very real way, this is what HBI is all about. Creating actionable ways to make the world a better place. Perhaps not at the grand scale. Not yet at least. The goal is, however, to make HBI into a global organization that can contribute to meaningful solutions and enhance dialogue to advance local efforts.
I recently helped (in a very small way) with the efforts of social justice and immigration advocates, no – make that heroes, working to bring greater recognition to under-reported issues happening in the U.S. There is a real tragedy happening in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in the State of Texas. An HIV positive man, seeking asylum to the United States to prevent persecution and gain access to lifesaving medications to treat his chronic medical condition, has been under tremendous duress and extreme stress. The man was recently on a 7-day hunger strike to protest the conditions he was facing in the government run ICE detention facility. An article appeared in The Nation highlighting the case - https://www.thenation.com/article/an-hiv-positive-gay-asylum-seeker-staged-a-seven-day-hunger-strike-in-an-ice-detention-facility/
However, a quick Google search identified only one other article. So here I am, in a very small way – trying to bring greater dialogue and recognition to a challenge happening in our own borders. Here I am making a call for others to know about the plight of a man that deserves far better treatment and respect than he is receiving. Here I am saying - we must stand together for change.
2018 is going to be a big year for HBI. We are going to work very hard to focus our efforts and strategically advance our programs and projects. We are going raises our voices in a much louder and bolder way for people living in marginalized and underserved circumstances. We are going to invite everyone into some level of continued action. Because, with action – we will make the world a better place. I know it!
It's already December?! Where did the 2017 go?
As we wrap up the year, we are ever mindful to the projects and programs looming in the very near future that is 2018. In fact, we have a full January planned for HBI and our partners.
One of the very first projects of the new year is very close to home for me. My wife and I are taking our seven year old daughter (Alexandra - named after Fr. Alex) to Perú. Alex is a lego freak. She absolutely loves to build legos. A few months back we were planning a family trip over the Holiday break. We tossed a number of ideas around and asked Alex where she wanted to go. She said, "I want to go to Perú and teach all the kids in the homes (the Union Biblica Casa Girasoles) how to build legos." Well - its a bit hard to deny this opportunity. So, at the end of this month we are taking Alex and a few big bags* filled with legos for a trip of a lifetime. We will visit a few of the Casa Girasoles and spend time with Father Alex. Our little Alex has planned a whole "curriculum" of teaching legos and play. It is going to be a fantastic experience for our whole family. *As a side note - if you would like to donate legos to this project, please contact HBI at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directly on the heels of the "Lego Adventure" trip (immediately after my wife and our daughter return home), the HBI team will welcome faculty, students and a medical team from St. Olaf College for a three week service learning trip. We will be working with the St. Olaf group on projects in the Sacred Valley of Cusco and the Alto Cayma communities of Arequipa. We'll be posting updates throughout the three week service learning adventure - so stay tuned.
Finally, we have our ongoing projects - and Nurse Karen will be facilitating another training of the volunteer firefighter "Master Trainers" participating in our emergency response pilot project and Dr. Bob will be all over the country training trainers for our NRP project.
Yep - its going to be a big year for HBI and we are kicking off 2018 with a very busy (and productive) January.
Thanks for all of the continued support. Please stay connected to our website and social media for updates.
I'm back from Rome.
It was a great trip, and I am so happy to be home. I learned a great deal from this trip. The biggest lesson was not so new to me - and, one that I easily forget. The lesson - collaboration is hard. I heard from a number of organizations and everyone (I mean it, every single organization I spoke with) was excited about the work of HBI. Everyone wanted to collaborate. And everyone got stalled around the finances to pay for collaborative projects.
My lesson from Rome: I am not going to let money get in the way of doing good work. Yes - money is necessary. It is a force that has the potential to do so much good in the world. And, there is more than enough money to go around. We just need to figure out how to make it more accessible.
So, I'm back from Rome. I learned a lot. And, the most important thing I learned . . . HBI is desperately needed in the world.
Check out a new video blog at: https://youtu.be/cGLFvC3yvp0
The past 24-hours have gone past at a break-neck pace.
Yesterday morning I assembled with a group of clergy from around the globe at a hotel about a mile from the Vatican. Our task, to walk to a private audience with His Holiness Pope Francis. Needless-to-say, the energy of the group was very high.
Once we got to the Vatican, we were escorted into the back of the City State through a series of medieval roadways and never-ending arches. Finally, we arrived in a beautiful castle-like courtyard. As we waited to be ushered into the room where we would eventually meet the Pope - we were told there would be a slight delay, "as the Holy Father was meeting with the President of Austria and they were about to exit."
Rather than "run into" His Holiness and the President of Austria, we were taken up an amazing staircase to a room that was described as the bedroom of former Pope. It was a magnificent. A priceless view of the city of Rome. Shortly after arriving, the room fell silent and in walked the Holy Father. Amazing!
His Holiness spoke for a few minutes, reading from prepared remarks and adding extemporaneous elements, and then we all had an opportunity to meet with the Holy Father. Feeling a bit awkward, and thinking I would be breaking rules of decorum and respect, I decided to leave a packet of materials explaining who HBI is and specific information about our Ines Project. Roberto would have none of it. He insisted I take the packet. And, after almost all of the other guests had provided their greetings and well wishes to His Holiness, I found myself standing in front of the Holy Father. I told him what an honor it was for me to be in his presence and spoke briefly of our two plus decades of work in Perú. I then handed him the packet of materials and send thank you very much. It was awesome.
Who knows what will come of my brief meeting - but one thing is for sure, I can now honestly say that I have told the Pope about the work of HBI . . . and that isn't such a bad thing at all.
Thank you for all of your continued support - Wayne Centrone
Yesterday I was in a meeting, more specifically a conference (the first of the two formal conferences I will be attending while in Rome), that was truly international in its representation. There were representatives from over 20-countries in the small audience of less than 30. Participants from all of the continents of the planet. It was amazing.
The flow of languages and the ease with which some of the attendees could seamlessly go between two, three and even four different language was awe-inspiring. And, a little overwhelming - as the entire meeting (sans a comment from a participant from South Africa) was in Italian. By the end of the morning session, I was exhausted.
Why is HBI involved in this conference? We are here to talk with priests from around the globe about ways they can partner with non-governmental organizations to expand the social impact of the Church. In fact, I had a very productive conversation with a priest from Lebanon about expanding the Ines Project to his work. He has a small NGO that works with women and children in various places around Lebanon. He was extremely interested in how we might collaborate on an Ines Project. Super exciting.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.