I'm back in the States. All of the Team Perú volunteers have either returned to the States, or are going on to excursion trips in some of the best tourist destinations in Latin America.
It's been a busy two weeks. We've been involved in a number of community based projects in support of our mission of creating bridges of collaboration and service to improve the health of underserved and marginalized populations and communities. What sticks out most over the past two weeks has been the excitement and authentic passion for our work expressed by the Team Perú volunteers. To a person, everyone of the volunteers at some point over the past 2+ weeks has come up to myself or one of the HBI staff and expressed a "life changing" moment or experience during their trip. In fact, on more than one occasion I had a volunteer tell me that such-and-such experience or activity was the "best day of their life." Wow - that is huge. And, these experiences are one of the clearest reasons why we as an organization continue to invest in the Team Perú service learning outreach trips.
I am fully invested in helping to shape a better world for people living in marginalized and underserved situations and circumstances. I know we can (and will) build the kinds of service delivery systems to assure everyone can get the healthcare and holistic support they need to live thriving, vital lives. And, I know that this can not be accomplished by anyone organization . . . or any one person. It will take a movement. The Team Perú trips are creating such a movement . . . one person at a time.
Thank you for all of your support. Thank you to our Team Perú volunteers. And most of all, thank you to the communities who allow us to work with them to shape a better future for all.
To learn more about how you can join a Team Perú trip or get involved with HBI - check out our website at: http://www.hbint.org/get-involved.html
I'm back in Arequipa. It's been a busy couple of days. The Team Perú volunteers finished the home addition project and have been working on a chapel for Father Alex. Most of the team will be leaving for their excursion trips to Cusco, Machu Pichu and the jungle over the next day - but a few hearty souls remain.
The remaining volunteers will be joining the HBI staff as we facilitate a number of our ongoing projects. Over the next three days we will be:
Stay tuned for more updates.
In addition to the Team Peru outreach trip - we have a number of other activities happening. Today, myself, Dr. Roberto and Carmen spoke with a group of University of Nebraska Omaha public health, health policy, nursing and social justice students about the work of HBI and health services delivery in Peru.
Our day started with a lecture at Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in the Pueblo Libre neighborhood of Lima. We talked about the intersection of social justice, public health and trauma awareness. We discussed the many ways that international development and public health projects can be beneficial and harmful to developing environments and emerging economies. most of all we got to know more about one another and the shared interests we have in building a movement for change around the world.
After our morning lecture, we went to the Shalom Center (a program run by the Anglican Church of Peru for children living with disabilities). There - Dr. Tarazona provided a presentation outlining the Peruvian health system and discussing the challenges and triumphs of Public Health services delivery in Peru.
Finally, Carmen provided an informative talk about Peruvian culture and the many changes that have occurred in Lima since the 1980's. The students and faculty from the University of Nebraska will be in Peru for 2-weeks working with Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya and learning about the many ways public health is practiced in Peru. It was a great privilege for us to participate in their learning experience.
It's Monday morning and the Team Peru trip is into the final days of the project. A group of volunteers will spend today working on a home improvement in the community of Alto Cayma while another team will help with activities in the programs of Father Alex.
Saturday was a full day of outreach and we were all exhausted. We spent the day pouring a foundation for a home improvement in a settlement community called Mujeres de Esperanza (Women of Hope). The community is a part of Father Alex's parish and includes some 30,000 people. Many of the people living in Mujeres de Esperanza are building new lives for themselves. They are working and saving - they are steadily putting the pieces together for a more solid future.
Some of the people living in Mujeres de Esperanza are stuck in extreme poverty. For these people - Father Alex has started a Solidarity Project. It is a program that is facilitated by a social worker and helps to find resources (including money) to support people with their most critical needs. It is a "bridge program" that serves people by filling a gap or addressing a challenge - so they can move into a new place in their lives.
Many of the people who are receiving support are single mothers who are struggling to find the resources to care for their families. One such person was the woman who's home we built an extra room. She is a single mother and has little resources. The extra room (she will soon have a two room house) will provide needed space for her children to sleep and play.
In addition to the home improvement project, the team participated in community "house visits" with the social worker from Father Alex's parish. In groups of 5, they visited homes and talked with people about their needs and ways the Solidarity Project can help. The home visits are for many volunteers the highlight of their time in Arequipa.
There are a few days left in the Team Peru trip - but the experiences the volunteers have in their time with HBI will surely stay with them for the remainder of their lives.
We made it to Arequipa. We love this place. The mountains. The beautiful architecture. The awesome food. What more could you want? A few of HBI's staff have lived in the city over the years and it holds a special place in our hearts.
Aside from being an amazing place that merges natural beauty, cultural heritage, and historical significance - Arequipa is the home of Father Alex Busuttil and his inspiring work in the area of Alto Cayma. The communities that make up the area where Father Alex works include a number of squatter settlements and include well over 30,000 people. HBI has been working with Father Alex and the Missionary Society of St. Paul for almost two decades.
This trip will include a few community based projects that afford an opportunity for the Team Peru volunteers to be directly involved in the work of Father Alex and his hope of extending compassion and solidarity to people living in extreme poverty. Over the next week our team will be working on construction projects, helping in a community feeding programs, going on home visits and participating in a number of small health focused activities. Most of all, they will be spending time learning more about the work of Father Alex and getting a chance to meet a true visionary.
This is going to be a great week filled with awesome experiences and amazing pictures. Stayed tuned for updates. Thanks for your 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.