I ran an errand this morning. You know one of those mundane errands that you put off until the very last minute, and then find yourself really pressed to get done. This morning I needed to return a Wi-Fi router to our cable company. So, I drove out to suburban Portland, and waited in the parking-lot for the store to open.
While I was sitting in the car I noticed a goose walking around a rather empty parking lot. What was unique about this goose (we live in the Pacific Northwest and geese are everywhere at this time of year), it seemed to be really stressed. The bird was walking around making a loud, frantic barking noise. The noise felt like a call for help. I watched the goose for a few minutes as it slowly walked around continuously barking and craning its neck in an almost writhing pattern. It looked to me like an animal in real trouble. The goose seemed lost and afraid.
I’m not an ornithologist. I wasn't certain what was going on with the goose; but at one point, I began to feel a little distressed myself. I started to consider who I might call, and whether or not animal protective services would even come out to help. And then something remarkable happened. Another goose flew by and landed about 20 feet away and started barking its own calls. The bird never flew any closer and simply called out. The sound the goose made was very different than the bird I originally encountered wandering around the parking-lot. This new goose barked a steady call that seemed to be saying, “I’m here to help. Let’s go.”
Within a couple of minutes, the goose that was wandering around the parking lot distressed and lost – stopped barking and writhing. The bird seemed to relax. Quickly, the animal purposefully walked toward the other goose and spread its wings in flight. I watched as the two birds united. For a few seconds they seemed to comfort one another, and then flew off.
The experience got me thinking. Where in our lives are we calling for help? And who is coming to our support? So many of us seem to be walking around in an almost stressed uncertainty. Uncertain of our needs. Uncertain how to ask to for help. Uncertain where to turn for support.
Change work - the kind of work that addresses the root causes of disparities, inequalities, and deep need – it’s work grounded in relationship building. It’s the work of listening. It’s the type of work that leads with respect and responds in deeply compassionate ways.
The challenges we are seeking to address in our work – they’re complex. Just this afternoon I was on a call talking about the anemia project and the various complexities that need to be addressed in implementing the project. There are a number of partners, the area where we are working is geographically diverse and the budget is nuanced and complicated. In reality – the whole reason we are undertaking this project is that we received a call from a nutritionist in the Alto Cayma area of Arequipa and he told us of the tremendous anemia in children under 5 years of age and the needs he was witnessing. So, whatever complexity exists in the implementation of the project – the very first step of our work is heeding the call. The very first step is listening.
Watching the geese in the parking-lot of the cable company this morning was a good lesson. A good reminder. Our work is about responding in a way that allows for deep connection. And that starts with listening . . . and heeding the calls for help.
It's a universal right of passage for non-governmental organizations. The annual report. Check out any number of NGO and not-for-profit websites in the next couple of weeks, and you will see a wide assortment of reports, documents, and infographic briefs.
We've historically printed our "Year in Review" and mailed copies to donors as a means of publicizing our record of activities. In 2016, we decided to move towards an online "impact report".Putting our Donor Impact material online allows us to move away from the notion of a strict report style of describing our programs and projects undertaken in the previous year, and focus more on providing a rich, visually stimulating assessment of the impact you have made possible.
So, without further adieu - I am pleased to announce the release of our 2017 Donor Impact Report. Check it out: http://www.hbint.org/donor-impact-report-2017.html
And thank you for all the continued support.
Ciudad del Eterno Sol or Ciudad del Eterno Calor. Eternal Sun or Eternal Heat, take your pick. It never gets cold here 5 degrees latitude south of the equator tucked up in the little corner of Perú near the Ecuadorian border and 40 miles inland. 96 at noon today which isn’t impressive for my Arizona friends but gets one’s attention in the Badger State, especially in February. I’m here for three days training newborn resuscitation trainers with the regional College of Midwives (Obstetras). This is the re-establishment of neonatal resuscitation training program (NRP) number 16 and I have a talented group to work with.
Piura, now a rapidly growing city of 400,000 (feels a lot smaller), has a rich history with Incan colonization only about 50 years before Francisco Pizarro and the Spaniards showed up in 1532 to establish the first Spanish city in Perú and fourth in all of South America, For years it was the gateway to Lima because of a better port. The Plaza de Armas is punctuated by mature tamarind trees painted white around the base of each trunk, and prides itself in the usual classy old colonial cathedral. With the constant heat it’s a city of flip-flops, T-shirts, shorts, and tank tops, all ages. The obstetras took me out to lunch today at a traditional restaurant and I enjoyed Seco de Cavelo, classic Piura cuisine made with salted marinated beef strips, fried green plantains, chifles (salted banana chips), tomato, onion, etc. all together, quite delicious.
The last couple nights I've enjoyed a cold Cusqueña sitting in a non-descript pizza joint on an open balcony overlooking a busy intersection on a downtown retail street. 10 PM on a Wednesday with all shops open, and streets full of people, cars, and motorcycles, a horn honking about every 2 seconds. Still almost 80 degrees but comfortable with a nice breeze. I love the activity and energy. This evening, after another long day in the Colegio de Obstetras, I’m enjoying a Capitán, my new pisco “go to” drink at the bar of a classy old hotel on the Plaza de Armas, Los Portales, with recorded jazz piano as an acoustic backdrop. Señor Segundo, the bartender, kindly shared his recipe. I’ve collected several and will determine which I like best for home enjoyment. Kind of Manhattan-like. I wonder if Segundo has an older brother Primero?
Piura is arid, rainfall largely influenced by El Niño which came in spades last April and inundated the entire downtown under 3-5 feet of water. The mosquitos thrived resulting in a recent outbreak of dengue. Other delightful local mosquito options include malaria and chikungunya (I love to say that word) though thankfully not too much of either.
To Lima tomorrow night and then a red-eye home the next night. I’m actually looking forward to the bracing frigid Wisconsin air, at least for a few minutes…….
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.