It's been a big week for Health Bridges. We hit our stride with the end of the Capital Campaign - exceeding our goal and raising over $60K in support for the boys living in the Casa Girasoles homes.
We've also got a number of activities underway - with Karen facilitating another round of data collection in the communities of Alto Cayma (Arequipa) for the anemia project; Carmen supporting an international intern who is learning about global health and helping with data collection for the Ines Project; we facilitated our first online course in Global Health for American College of Eduction School of Nursing and Universidad Catholica Santa Maria; and we're busy preparing a new Memorandum of Agreement to facilitate the next phase of our ongoing program with the College of Midwives in Perú to train all providers in the country in neonatal resuscitation. A busy week.
However, this week has also been marked by significant tragedy. A young women we've been supporting in Arequipa, Karen has been a true saint, with a rare form of cancer has been deteriorating. Her situation is grave. It's really difficult because her current situation could have been easily averted with good quality healthcare. Her deterioration has been really hard on the team, as Karen has been so involved in helping to arrange consultations with oncologists and specialists in the U.S., advocating with the Peruvian physicians, meeting with partners to help align care for the young woman, and deeply building relationship. I have so much respect for Karen and her heroic efforts. I know she does not do this work for recognition, and - she deserves so much recognition.
On Monday afternoon I received a message from a partner NGO - that a young boy we were also helping, passed away. I wrote about him a few weeks back. His case was extremely complicated - made even more complex because of number of social, economic and cultural challenges. His death hit me hard. We were working to get him linked into speciality care in the city of Lima, as access to pediatric-neurologists is very limited - actually, non-existent - in Cusco. We were too late. I feel very saddened - for the families loss, for the premature end of such a precious life, and for the failures of the health system. There loss feels so senseless. Just like the desperate challenges Marta is experiencing in accessing the care she so deeply deserves.
This week has been filled with a number of great lessons. Perhaps the greatest is learning to never give up and keep persevering The challenges that face the world today are complex. They will not be solved with simple solutions. They require equally complex and sophisticated solutions. Our work is to keep pushing. To stay engaged. Our work is to keep learning.
By now, all Team Perú volunteers are either home or in the last hours of their travel to get home.
The trip was great. The team helped in so many ways. From painting to gardening and planting to planning and constructing an entire wall of murals and photos/bios - they worked really hard. A big thank you goes out to all the trip participants.
There are many ways people choose to spend their vacation time and money . . . and, it is a real honor to know they choose Health Bridges and our Team Perú trip.
Check out the following video to see some of the scenes from our Team Perú trip - and go to the following link to learn more about ways you can get involved with Health Bridges. Get Involved with Health Bridges
Thank you for all the ongoing support. Oh, and check out our Capital Campaign. We only have one more week and we are so close to our goal . . . and we have a matching grant that will double your donation. Thanks.
Connection. I talk about it all the time. I talk about how important it is for the work of HBI. I talk about how the core of our values are centered around creating and maintaining relationships.
This week was our annual Team Perú service learning trip. We just finished with the team. Part of the group split off and went to Machu Picchu and tourism activities in the sacred Valley.
Our HBI team took off for another Casa Girasoles in the desert city of Ica. We have a young man who lives in the house, he struggles with identity. He has for a long time. For purposes of this story, let's call him Raul. Raul is Afro-Peruvian. He is the only person of color in the house. He's one of the only people of color he sees day-in and day-out. I think it makes him lonely. He has confided in me that there are times when he feels a bit lost because he doesn't have other people around that look like him.
We are very fortunate to have a young lady from Britain working as an intern with HBI for the next couple of months. Her name is Kaila. She is great. So kind. So empathic. So real.
The connection Kaila and Raul made was amazing. There was something deep inside of Raul that compelled him to connect with Kaila. It wasn't easy. Raul is shy. He kept trying to stimulate a conversation with Kaila; but would get shy and recoil.
When they started talking about their hair - he lit up. Slowly he opened up more and more. He had someone to talk with . . . someone to connect with, and it brought deep meaning for him. It was beautiful. These kinds of connections are healing.
Kaila is amazing young woman. She is a beacon of light. And I know for a fact that she was shining so brightly when she met Raul; and, that is what attracted him to her on many different levels. Raul found someone he could relate with. Connect with. And, perhaps most importantly - someone that looks like him.
I believe the most important part of our work is creating compelling connections. One healing relationship at a time.
We just completed a week of service learning activities at our Casa Girasoles home in the Sacred Valley of Cusco.
The trip was a huge success. Team Perú volunteers worked so hard - helping to paint the interior of the home, planting a flower garden, moving hundreds of pounds of rocks, and planing and implementing a wall to recognize all the boys living in the Casa Girasoles.
Special thanks goes out to all the volunteers for their tremendous efforts and unwavering commitment to service. Many of the volunteers have gone on to excursion trips to Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley, but their contributions will be lasting.
Health Bridges team will be headed to the city of Ica in the desert to visit our other Casa Girasoles home.
Stay tuned for additional photos and videos; and, thank you for all 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.