It is necessary to cross the bridge
To meet with ourselves
"People should think of their words as if they were seeds. They should plant them, and then allow them to grow in silence. Our elders taught us that the earth is always speaking to us, but that we must keep silent to listen to it "(Indigenous Wisdom)
I.- We speak of what our heart has seen and lived.
The plane landed very heavily at Cusco Airport, Dr. Wayne was waiting for me smiling with open arms and a bottle of water. Our destination Huilloc. More than 1000 km between Lima and Cuzco. Another 75 km from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and 13 km to reach the community of Huilloc.
Huilloc is a Quechua speaking community that keeps within itself the richness of the traditional Andean world as a heritage to share with all humanity. The village has no prisons, the community watches over its own, children play in the fields without any danger, women fall in love and have the children they want, live in the countryside and sell the crafts they produce. The day has more than 24 hours, they know the stars and the language of the clouds. But they still need to improve their conditions of health, housing, and schooling among many other issues. Some say that "civilization still does not reach" Huilloc, the truth is that it's people live with much wisdom in deep harmony with history, nature and traditions.
How far did the St. Olaf College delegation travel from Minnesota to reach Huilloc? The distance was never miles but humanity and solidarity. Dr. Douglas Tate, his team of professors and students, St. Olaf College built and crossed a bridge to meet the people of the Huilloc community and somehow, to find within themselves, the immeasurable truth that we exist.
The human encounter, for service and solidarity; That nothing fills the human heart more than to put itself at the service of another human being. HBI was present sharing the Medical Campaign and drinking from the wisdom of the Quechua world.
II.- A food for our growth in humanity.
They were wonderful days of welcome and encounter with the life, the pain, the illness and the suffering of many people with faces molded by the cold, the wind of the Andes and the harsh conditions of life. Their eyes penetrated the barriers of language and culture: faces of the elderly, children, women and young people who demanded to live in the same conditions of life in which we live. The true human encounter never leaves us the same, always provokes a universal commotion in our interior. It is the beginning of a personal journey that calls us, with a singular intensity, to share life at the service of the other.
Probably the medical campaign, has generated more health and more life in us than the people we served. If some build human barriers and distances, it is clear that, in the small, we can and must continue to build bridges of humanity. Because, where there are vulnerable - there is the center of our concerns. Now I know that there is a community called Huilloc and I can recognize many faces and many names and that they now also know ours and that the only distance between them and us are the kilometers between our cities.
It's the end of a very important era for HBI, but not the end of a critical relationship.
After over a decade of involvement with Health Bridges International, and having served as a founding member for the past 10 years, Mr. Michael Dotten has stepped down from the HBI Board of Directors.
Mike is leaving the Board to accept a prestigious position as the Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon. An appointment that will allow him to use his tremendous gifts and talents to benefit numerous Oregonians and Episcopalians living in the Pacific Northwest.
The Board of Directors of HBI is extremely appreciative of the tremendous work Mr. Dotten has done on behalf of our organization and the numerous stakeholders we serve. Mike's impact will be felt for a long time to come. We wish him the very best and look forward to continuing our work together through new partnerships.
It’s late at night. I mean crazy late. My flight back to the U.S. is leaving in about an hour and I find myself with a bit of time to think. That is – time to think or fall asleep.
This trip has been extra long. I’ve been away from my wife and our little girl for almost three weeks and I’m ready to be home. That’s not to say our work hasn't been both stimulating and extremely important, it’s just time to be home.
We’ve had a number of projects going on simultaneously during this trip. Each one has required a little bit different focus and a unique vantage point. And – all of the HBI staff has been really busy. A short list of some of the things we’ve been working on this trip include:
What struck me most on this trip was the focus of our team and the true emphasis on creating and sustaining projects that change people’s lives. We are dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on the creation of the next generation of change agents. Over the two plus decades we’ve been working in global health, our efforts have been centered on encouraging broad partnerships and deep coalitions. We’ve worked to shift larger power structures to a more equitable distribution of resources and community based facilitation. We’ve strived to build bridges that allow people to unite in ways that foster resource sharing and diverse participation. And, throughout all of the years of efforts – I’ve learned one thing very clearly . . . this is not easy work. It requires a constant attention to relationship, a focus on meaningful community-based participatory development and a keen sense of cultural humility and compassion.
It’s been a long trip and I’m almost home, but one thing I will takeaway with me is the amazing work we are doing. For all of the stakeholders who are part of mission of HBI, I can assure you that your donations are effective giving. Your donations are not charity. Your donations and support are helping to create clear pathways for the next generation to get involved in shaping new methods and mechanism for challenging the equity problems of their own communities and the broader global community. Your support has allowed us to expand our commitment to creating and facilitating bridges for interdisciplinary, cross-cultural exchange that are surely changing the world – one relationship at a time.
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.