One of the boys in the Casa Girasoles really needed a dentist. He was scared.
The pandemic has made it very challenging to get in to see a dentist in Perú. However, things opened up last week and we were able to get him seen, not once, but THREE times! His teeth, well - they were bad.
Not anymore. We've got him all fixed up and we have a prevention plan in place.
Its funny, because so many little things have been pushed aside this past year. No, dental hygiene is not a little thing. However, taking care of ourselves - well, that seems like something that got pushed aside. Not anymore.
Thanks to all of the incredibly generous supporters of Health bridges - we have the resources to help formerly abandonded boys, children and families in our Ines Project, and former Casa Girasoles young men have access to so much. Your generosity makes it possible for us to move beyond the traditional model of charity . . . your generosity allows us to build life enhancing and life forming services and supports.
I am also so thankful that you trust us with your valuable resources. I am so thankful for the support, generosity and blessings we receive everyday.
It is no secret, especially for those that know me – I love professional bike racing. I watch races from Europe a few times per week. It's a passion.
Recently, however, I'm finding it harder and harder to watch the events. Races in France, Italy, Belgium, Spain - the crowds are a fraction of their pre-COVID numbers, but the fans showing up roadside – far too many aren't wearing masks. It causes me great distress. I think about all the people who are impacted by what seems like a very personal decision. I think about Juan Diego.
Juan Diego, not his real name, was a former young person in the Casa Girasoles program. He lived in a couple of the Casa Girasole's houses over a few years. I met him over 20 years ago.
We got reconnected with JD when another former Girasol posted a video on social media asking for help. JD had recently developed symptoms suggestive of COVID and needed support. From the time JD's friend posted the video to his death was less than a week.
It's not supposed to be this way. JD was a young man in the prime of his life. He was just starting his life after a childhood and adolescence filled with so much trauma – he shouldn't have died this way.
We did everything we could. We helped with medication. We advocated for better care. We committed to pay for any care JD needed. They were scared. JD's wife, also young and repairing her life from years of trauma, didn't want to go to the hospital. When we finally created a plan, a plan that held everyone's opinions as necessary, it was too late. JD had over 95% pulmonary compromise. The hospital could do nothing.
It's not supposed to be this way. It doesn't have to be this way. We can work together to protect everyone. One thing we can all do is wear a mask. Wearing a mask is not only about protecting ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities – it's about saving the world.
What does this have to do with a former street boy named JD? Everything. You see, we are a connected globe—so much of what happens in Calcutta impacts what happens in Lima and what happens in Topeka. We're connected. Wearing a mask is more than a personal decision. It is a collective commitment to humanity.
The pandemic is far from over. It rages in some of the most under-resourced places on the planet. We are, however, the path to protection and prevention. It all starts and ends in our united call to action. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated. Travel responsibly. And, most of all – accept our collective obligation to global humanity. The JD's of the world need us!
God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there's no turning back.
I had to mail a couple of packages the other day. It had been months since I was inside the postal annex store in our neighborhood. The owner, a dynamic, friendly person who knows every customer's name, asked me how I was doing.
In what seems like a custom of our pandemic-era, we talked about the changes that are occurring and the ways we are, or are not, coping. We spoke about Health Bridges and our work and the pandemic's impact in Latin America and SS Africa. At one point, the conversation – a short exchange – turned to the topic of the day, what will be the new normal?
I've had this conversation a lot lately. I've had it with my family, friends, co-workers, and acquittances. The one thing that seems to come up in all of the discussions is a desire not to go back to the way things were. Over and over again, I have heard people say some version of – let's not lose the pandemic lessons in our rush to retrieve some semblance of normal.
I haven't been to Perú in a year. Next week marks one year since I was in-country. As an organization, we have decided that travel is too risky right now, and we have suspended all trips. As the 'new normal' creeps into view, I can see this changing. As more and more people are vaccinated, travel will re-open. However, I don't want to jump back into the way things were. Without our team traveling, we've had to adjust, accommodate, and grow.
Our team has done a fantastic job throughout this past year. From the way we rallied together to remake our work in the pandemic's light and wisdom. Our neonatal resuscitation training, led by Dr. Bob Gehringer, has pivoted to a fully web-based program. The team is training hundreds of healthcare professionals in Peru through Zoom and a web-learning platform. The Ines Project team developed a virtual communication matrix that allows them to stay connected with one another and the families. We've provided food, financial support, and emotional connection throughout the pandemic. The Casa Girasoles program is running with the efficiency of a Fortune 500 company – okay, that's a bit of an embellishment :-)
In all seriousness, the past year has been a significant growth year for the programs and projects of our organization. We've refined our operations, reporting, evaluation, and monitoring plans. We've worked together as a team, in-spite of the thousands of miles that separate us. We've learned to adapt and grow - even remake our work. I am so proud of our efforts. I don't want to loose this energy and collaborative commitment.
Things are changing. The world is reawakening. The new normal of life is on the horizon. Who knows for sure what will be the new normal of our lives and communities. One thing is for sure, we've learned far too much from the past year. There's no turning back.
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.