Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans . . .
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Andina event (scheduled for May 7 and 8) will be rescheduled. Hang tight for now - we will have more news about the new dates in the very near future.
Thank you for all the ongoing support!
I'm sick. Nothing too bothersome. Just a good case of the flu. I guess you could say getting sick is an occupational hazard. We helped with an outreach clinic high in the mountains, where most of the children seen in the clinic had a similar set of symptoms. And, well - I'm sick.
I've been resting at the rectory where Father Alex lives in Alto Cayma. It's a very peaceful place. The sort of place that gets you thinking.
Last night Father Alex and I got to talking. We talked of the world. We talked of our collective work. We talked about a lot of things. At some point he said to me, "there is such a tremendous opportunity for collective change. Real change in the world. Change that will bring all of humanity closer together. But that change will not happen until we view ourselves as being in the world, and not of the world."
The "in the world, and not of the world" phrase is not new to me. It's a Biblical reference. However, I've always struggled with the passage. It feels simultaneously like a call to live "above" the fray - and an absolution to the true work of helping create solutions to the many challenges that are front-and-center in the world today.
So I asked Father Alex to explain what he meant. He told me, "[the world today] is so focused on money, power, title, and prestige - that people forget about one another. They forget about the connection we all have. They forget about loving one another above all else." He stopped for a moment in our conversation and prefaced his next statement with, "this is going to sound a bit strange coming from a Priest - but I really think we have lost sight to that fact that God is nothing more than love. And when we share our love for one another - we are sharing God."
He went on to talk about the idea of being in service to one another and in deep committed relationship with one another. He told me he worries "stuff" (material possessions) has taken the place of true connections. He said, "being in the world does not mean we live a life focused on some ethereal future - but we commit to a life in service to one another and in a deep commitment to our collective love for one another."
We ended our conversation close to 10 at night, and Alex said to me, “look Wayne, don't get so caught up in the doing part of your life. There is plenty to do. Remember, being in this world and knowing, truly knowing there is a bigger force, whatever you want to call it – God or Love, whatever - being in the world means you are not stuck in the parts of this life that fail to exalt the love we have for another. Live a life as a reflection of love – and everything will take care of itself.” He finished by saying – “And have fun. You can see a truly holy person by the joy they bring to the world. Please don’t forget to have fun.”
I got sick this week – and I have a sense that it was because I needed some deeper healing.
This is one amazing journey. Thanks for all of the support.
Yesterday was a big day for our neonatal resuscitation training program (NRP) train-the-trainer project. For a few years we've been working in collaboration with the College of Midwives of Perú (Colegio Obstetras del Perú) on a bold undertaking to train every professional midwife in the country in NRP.
It is virtually impossible for even the best trainer to train an entire country of health providers in NRP, so Dr. Robert Gehringer (Medical Director for HBI) has been training teams of trainers who are tasked with conducting their own trainings. Its a domino effect approach to knowledge generation and skills acquisition.
Like any project this bold, there is an important and ever present need for accurate planning, concise communication, and ongoing relationship management. All of that is to say - the partners need to work very closely. To say the project has been unsuccessful would be a complete mischaracterization. Quite the contrary, Dr. Gehringer has grown a model program with training sites (trained trainers) in over 16 departments (i.e., states or regions - there are a total of 26 Colegio Obstetras regions in Perú). He has trained over 100 "trainers" who have gone on to train hundreds more professional midwives in the knowledge and skills of saving babies lives. It is a model program! And, the program has not been without challenges.
So, yesterday we met with the senior leadership (elected for three years terms) of the National Colegio Obstetras del Perú to discuss our impressions. It would have been very easy to go into this meeting with a list of "demands" (we did have a list) and mandate changes. It would have been easy to say, "we need you to . . . " But in reality, rarely do mandates build relationships - instead they construct resentments. As such, we went into the meeting with a sincere appreciation for the opportunity provided by the collaboration with the Colegio Obstetras del Perú and we had a conversation. A conversation about challenges, opportunities and insights into ways we can work more collaboratively into the future. We emphasized the relationship over the project.
Certainly, in my Executive Director role, I expressed our concerns and our desires to refine certain components of the program. I spoke about our desire to work together to grow the program into a model that can be expanded to other parts of Latin American and around the world. And, I asked for the commitment of the leadership of the Colegio to program.
What I realized in our meeting was this - a relationship like we are building with the Colegio Obstetras del Perú is an almost daily commitment. It requires continuous attention and action. It's a lot like brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth only every once in a while - chances are you will have more dental problems than not. However, if you commit to the daily brushing of your teeth - then the daily act of dental care will more than likely (along with a healthy diet, adequate water intake and lifestyle prevention measures) lead to good oral health. Relationships require continuous attention. They're not static. And, all good programs and projects are built on healthy relationships.
So, as we move forward - we are committed to the daily relationship building needed to assure every professional midwife in Perú has the knowledge and skills they need to save infants lives. What else can we do?
Thank you for your continued support.
I'm in the Sacred Valley of Cusco. I have joined a group from St. Olaf College. Students, professors and medical and dental professionals. This is the second year that HBI has been invited to act as a consultant to the St. Olaf Outreach Project. We've been invited by a U.S. based NGO, Andean Community Partners, to help act as constructive consultants to their work.
Before leaving for the Sacred Valley, I was back in Lima for a couple of days. One morning I went for a run along the coast. I've done this run many times. It took me past the area of the beach where a group of men having been living - and where we've provided some minor outreach. As I got to the area where the men are usually camping, I was greeted by a whole new experience. Instead of the makeshift shelters and roaming dogs, I was met with a big green grass field.
As I ran further I was met by one of the men we've worked with in the past. I asked him what had happened and where everyone was now living. He told me that the municipality had come through the area and moved them out. He explained that they were now living in an area not too far from their original community - but were very concerned that they were soon going to be pushed further out. He told me they (the men living on the beach and salvaging scrap metal from the ocean) were "moved by the changing tides." I asked him what he meant and he told me "everything is changing and [we] are just getting pushed along - like the sand on the beach."
Everything is changing. This is especially true for parts of Lima. There is so much development. So much middle class impact. This is good news. And, I can't help but wonder what will happen to the people living on the edges of society. The people like my friends living on the beach.
This week I am in one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are ancient ruins around every corner. The snow capped peaks dart their wonderful spires all over. I am working with an incredibly gifted and motivated group of young people. And, all I can think about is what will happen to the people of this world who may not have the power to stand up to the massive changes that are occurring all around them. What will happen to the most vulnerable and underserved? I'm not sure - but I know one thing for certain . . . HBI will be a part of assuring the marginalized are never forgotten.
Thanks for your continued support!
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.