May 21, 2017
What a trip! This past ten days has been a whirlwind of activities and locations. From the jungles of the Amazon to the mountains of the high Andes and the Sacred Valley of Cusco, to the cities of Lima, Carjamarca, Cusco, and Arequipa - our team has been busy.
Dr. Bob Gehringer was in-country continuing to advance the Neonatal Resuscitation Training Program (NRP) in collaboration with the Peruvian College of Midwives. Dr. Bob has been extremely successful in training over 88 trainers who have gone on to train almost 3,000 professionals in NRP. He has set-up 12 train-the-trainer programs in collaboration with regional Colleges of Midwives and the training teams have conducted over 180 trainings. This project is well on its way to meeting the objective of our 5-year agreement with the College of Midwives - to train every midwife in Peru with life-saving neonatal resuscitation techniques. We are really proud of Dr. Bob and his Herculean efforts.
Our Director of Nursing and Evaluation, Karen Falkenstein conducted a two-day training on trauma evaluation and emergency triage for Lima's preeminent hospital Clínica Delgado. Working with our staff, Carmen Zavala and Liz Stratton, Karen and the team pulled off two full days of training for nurses from around Lima. The training, a critical skill for nurses working in emergency departments to assess severity and assign triage, was an important part of our ongoing emergency medicine work to advance pre-hospital and hospital emergency care in Peru.
On the dental front, working in collaboration with our new Dental Director, Dr. Matt Allen, we provided comprehensive dental care to boys living in homes in the jungle city of Iquitos and the mountain community of Urubamba. Over four days of care, Dr. Allen and a team of volunteer Peruvian dentists provided cleanings, restorative care, and acute dental care to almost 100 patients. In addition to the care delivery to formerly abandon boys living in the Unión Bíblica del Perú Casa Girasoles homes, Dr. Allen was able to immerse himself in the work of HBI and gain critical time partnering with Peruvian colleagues.
On the same trip where we provided dental care, HBI piloted tested our Health Monitoring System (HMS) called the Girasoles Sanos System. The pilot testing included working with care delivery staff to conduct user testing and review the intent of the HMS. We collected a great deal of feedback and input that will help to make modifications to the system to be more aligned with the needs of homes and organizations working with extremely marginalized children.
Ms. Carmen Zavala, HBI's Peru Program Coordinator, hosted a team of nursing students from Texas Women's University. The team of 25 undergraduate and graduate nursing students spent a day with Carmen providing charlas (talks) for the girls living at the Hope House in San Juan de Lurigancho in the city of Lima. Carmen also provided the team with a grounding in the work of HBI and lessons in Peruvian history, politics, and healthcare systems.
Finally, on the last day of our trip - we took a full day to meet together as a staff and review our goals and plans for the remainder of 2017. The meeting included a review of our current programs and a brief strategic session to plan better mechanisms for communication and collaboration.
It has been a full ten days. These trips, when the team is going in so many different directions and operating on so many different levels, are when I fully realize how powerful the work of HBI is in making a difference in the world. I am so proud of our team and I am continually thankful to our donors and supporters.
Thank you so much for your belief in the work of HBI. Vamos Juntos!
My mother taught me a number of very important life lessons. She taught me that hard work and focus can make a huge difference. She taught me about honesty and sincerity. She taught me about compassion and purpose. Most of all, my mother taught me that the life I live is so much more important than the titles I have or the size of my bank account. She taught me to be a servant in the world.
The Ines Project for Medically Fragile Children focuses on helping mothers living in extreme poverty find the knowledge and skill they need to advocate for their own futures. It is my sincere hope that, especially on Mother's Day, the work we do through HBI honors what she taught me.
Dear Mom, I would like to say thank you for all of your ongoing support. HBI would not be possible without you and your loving beliefs. On your behalf, I would like to offer a very special Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the world.Thank you all.
Dr. Wayne Centrone, HBI Executive Director
We made it. And although we've had a number of projects going on for the past month - including Dr. Bob conducting NRP trainings around Peru, Nurse Karen providing emergency medicine trainings and leading the charge for our new emergency first responder project, and Dr. Roberto, Carmen, Nurse Fany and Liz continuing to run the Ines Project for Medically Fragile Children - Ben and I landed early this morning and will be here for almost two weeks working on the Girasoles Sanos project. Joining us later tonight is our new Dental Director, Dr. Matt Allen.
Over the next two weeks we will be traveling around Peru working in homes for abandon children operated by our partner of over two decades Union Biblica del Peru, to provide comprehensive dental care with a team of volunteer Peruvian dentists and Dr. Matt - as well as field testing our new health monitoring system for marginalized youth. The system, a web-based platform for monitoring the complex needs of children living in orphanages and group homes, is a project we've been working on for the past 5-years. After much behind the scenes coding, the product is ready for field testing and we are looking forward to "kicking the tires" on the system to fully understanding its capabilities and limitations.
Over the coming days, follow our efforts through this Blog and our social media posts. We will be documenting our efforts and inviting your comments and ideas. I am so proud of our team and the number of ways we are building sustainable bridges to support the complex health needs of women and children living in extreme poverty. Way to go Team Peru - you rock!
Thank you for all of your ongoing support.
Last night was the final evening for the 8th annual Bridge to Change Benefit Dinner at Andina restaurant.
This year was our most successful fundraiser to-date and brought together over 100 supporters from around the Portland metro area. Over the two nights of the event we raised almost $100K. That is double our highest amount in any past year.
The generous contributions will go to support the following programs and projects in 2017:
We can't stress strongly enough how much we appreciate the amazing stakeholders who have trusted HBI with their generous contributions. The 2017 Bridge to Change event is the start of a whole new chapter in the growth and development of HBI. We're excited to be on this journey with so many of you. Thank you!
Tomorrow is the first night of the 2017 Health Bridges International Bridge to Change Benefit at Portland's famous Andina Restaurant. This is our 8th year hosting the event at Andina and we are very proud to be partnering with the Rodriguez de Platt family. Their generosity and support have been a huge help to HBI over the years.
In preparation for the event, I've been reading through old journals from my trips to Latin America I have journals dating back almost 20-years. One journal I read this afternoon reminded me how far we, HBI, have come in our work. At that time, my vision was to develop an organization that could bring direct care to the most underserved communities in Peru. A noble proposition at that time, but nearly an obsolete idea in the modern context. The challenges of inequity and unequal access to health and social support services will not be addressed through teams "parachuting" into low and middle income countries. No, the real meaningful lasting change will come from building partnerships and cultivating the next generation of change agents.
A number of years ago, we realized the need for foreign driven international outreach was no longer viable or responsible. We started building connections with in-country professionals (physicians, dentists, nurses, midwives, etc.) and now staff all of our "outreach" is conducted with in-country staff only. We realized the lasting impact of our efforts comes from training in-country health professionals, empowering the next generation of change makers, working alongside underserved communities to craft their own models and mechanisms to address their challenges, and cultivating relationships that bring together resources to create a "sum of the parts" impact.
This shift - from doing, to helping, to organizing, to cultivating - has been a long and very challenging adventure. We've learned a great deal from our efforts. Most of all - we've learned the key to our success is collaboration.
The next chapter of our journey is just beginning. Tomorrow night will provide an opportunity for me to reflect on where we have been and describe where we are going. I am excited for the future and I look forward to building this future with all of our partners. Thank you for your continued support of HBI.
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.