Although the answer may seem obvious, I'm often asked - why support a program that works with formally abandoned children? Why is it so important?
This work, the work of Girasoles Sanos Program, is building lives. It is grounded in the notion that all children deserve access to the pathways of their futures. It is centered in our belief that all children deserve the opportunity to decide who they want to be. And, the Girasoles Sanos Program actually stops the impact of trauma, violence and intergenerational poverty. It directly breaks the cycles that trap children.
There are currently two brothers living in our home in the Sacred Valley of Cusco. They only speak Quechua, an indigenous Andean language. They are shy and withdrawn. They come from very traumatized backgrounds and deep levels of poverty. Until coming to our home, they had never eaten with a fork or knife. Nor had they had never taken a bath or shower.
Today, they are opening up. They are smiling. Our work is slow. It's about teaching the simple things like how to eat at the dinner table, or engage with adults who are your caregivers. It’s about showing the brothers unconditional love. The work is slow, but it’s showing so much promise. We are truly making a difference.
During our capital campaign, every penny we receive in donations will go directly to support the homes. All of the monies, 100%, will help to provide nutritious meals, clothing, schooling, developmental support - it will help to build lives.
What more could we want with our work then to know we are building futures for the next generation. And that's exactly what is happening in our Girasoles Sanos Program.
So, thank you - for your support, kindness and dedication. And please continue to keep the Girasoles children in your thoughts and prayer. Support our capital campaign today.
I get asked frequently why so much of the work of Health Bridges is focused in Perú.
The answer is pretty straightforward – Perú is where our work started, and we're committed to the people we are called to serve. This is particularly true for the work we are doing in our Casa Girasoles Program.
Our work with children living on the streets started over twenty years ago. In that time, we've learned so much from the many boys who have come through the Casa Girasoles. We’ve learned so much about what it means to support a child and build a life they deserve. We’ve learned so much about humility and service.
The boys in the Casa Girasoles homes come from very challenging backgrounds. Profound experiences of unrelenting poverty. Families with deep levels of abuse and violence. Families where mental health and substance use conditions go undiagnosed and untreated. Families impacted by unfathomable pain.
One story I think of often is the story of two brothers who came to us at the ages of 7 and 9. They were both suffering from deep wounds. Their selective mutism was a protection mechanism – but it built a wall in our ability to connect.
Little by little, more of their life unfolded to us. They grew up in a brothel. Their mother would hide them under the bed in the suffocatingly small room when she worked. As they got older, it was harder and harder to hide them from her customers. She finally told them to leave.
Through a deep commitment to love and providing a safe place for healing, they are recapturing their childhoods. The healing is slow. The wounds are deep.
The work requires patience. And, this is the work of true healing. This is the work of our Casa Girasoles Program. It’s about rebuilding lives, and reclaiming futures.
We are fortunate to receive subject matter and technical support from a team of child welfare experts from around the world. Through their help, we're building a model framework for serving children from the experience of abandonment we think will be scaled around Perú and Latin America.
Over the next eight weeks we are holding a capital campaign to support the children living in the Casa Girasoles Program. All, 100%, of the donations will go directly to the homes. Please consider making a monthly pledge to support the boys in our homes. Thank you.
We're launching a capital campaign to raise funds to support the Casa Girasoles program . . . and we need your help.
Our goal is to raise $120,000 in the next 8 weeks. Super ambitious, I know. But here's the thing - we're really lucky. The supporters who make Health Bridges possible are the best supporters any organization could ever ask for. You've made us the success we are today.
One thing I hope all our supporters know - we've always been very conscientious in how we fund the work of Health Bridges. We've been mindful to the fact that many of the complex issues that are challenging underserved communities, require flexibile solutions.
Its really pretty simple - complex issues require equally complex and integration solutions. And to this end, we've sought funding that will allow us to work in ways that truly respond to local level need.
There aren't a lot of grants that fund flexible solutions. Most grants require rigid reporting on a fixed set of interventions. I don't think that's bad. Outcome data is what helps drive future change. However, flexibility is a "super power" when it comes to responding to need. And, the donors and supporters who provide us with so much of your resource - give us the flexibility.
From our Girasoles Sanos homes for formerly abandoned boys to our work training teams of trainers around Perú in neonatal resuscitation - you've provided us with so much support. And now, more than ever, we need your support. Please consider making a pledge (monthly, quarterly, annually) to support our Girasoles Sanos program and the work we are doing to change the lives of formerly abandoned boys.
Make a pledge today, and thank you.
Sometimes it feels like there’s a heavy dust blocking my eyes. It feels like I just can’t see things clear enough.
Two nights ago, I was in the desert city of Ica. We were walking near the Plaza de Armas in the city center on a busy shopping evening. We had a mission – purchase school supplies for the 20 boys living in the Casa Girasoles. As we turned a corner amidst a phrenetic crowd of shoppers, a young man sitting on the sidewalk hunched against a wall caught my eye. Lying next to him was a boy. The boy, perhaps 8 years old, was sleeping on a dirty blanket. The man had a sign with scribbled words that read, “I am Venezuelan. I am alone with my son. I have nothing. Please help.” I stopped in my tracks. People ran into me as I made a human barrier in the middle of this busy sidewalk, but I didn’t care. Deep inside I felt a tremendous jolt. I looked right into his eyes. There was so much pain. I pulled out my wallet and fumbled through my bills, hoping to avoid glares. I walked up to the man and put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Eres importante (you are important).” I’m not sure why I said that, or what I hoped to accomplish – but I just needed to connect.
By the time I regrouped with my colleagues, now some two blocks ahead, they had already reached the store where we intended to purchase school supplies. The store was closed. We decided to back track through the crowded streets, retrieve the car and go to another store in a shopping mall some 15 minutes away. Walking past the man, we caught one another’s eyes. He raised his hand and gestured with a thumbs up. I was crushed. I did nothing. I wanted to do more. I hurt so deep inside – for him, with him.
When we got to the store it was late and we were all very tired. Hoping to expediate our shopping, we asked one of the clerks for help. She kindly sat down at a computer terminal and helped us sort through two pages of school supply needs. At one point she asked why we were purchasing so many supplies. We explained that we run a home for formerly abandoned boys and we had recently received a generous donation to purchase school uniforms and supplies. After listening intently, she asked if we could wait a few moments. She returned with the store manager.
The manager spent the better part of two hours helping to find the best prices, discounting items on the spot, and offer free “extras.” He went out of his way to assure the boys got the best supplies for the lowest prices. In the end, we left the store with over S/. 3,300 ($1003) worth of school supplies for only S/. 1,100 ($335). We were floored. He showed such kindness and compassion. He had no reason to go out of his way for us, yet that is exactly what he did.
The events that transpired on Tuesday night got me thinking. How do we care for one another more? How do we go out of our way to help in the face of overwhelming obstacles?
I am deeply pained by the plight of Venezuelan refugees and asylum seekers. I am deeply concerned about the welfare of underserved people facing significant challenges to live the lives they deserve. And, I know for a fact I am not alone in my concern – there are caring people who are making a difference in so many ways. We just need to connect our efforts to create greater impact. But how do we do this?
We need a movement. A movement of compassion. A movement of service. I think it starts with connection. I connected with the man and his son on the busy streets of Ica. He is with me. He’s in my heart. I now have a responsibility to him. The manager at the supplies store went out of his way to help us. He connected.
We can connect. We can rise above this dust and find a new way. Join us!
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.