The executive team of Health Bridges has not met face-to-face for over 18-months. That changed this past weekend when we got together for three intense days of meetings.
It was so nice to reconnect. Our greatest asset as an organization is our team - and spending time around my colleagues is such a blessing. We spent our time going over the past 18-months, planning for next year, and reconnecting personally and professionally. Oh, and sharing a Pisco sour . . . or two.
Also, at our weekend retreat - Karen Falkenstein, HBI's longtime Director of Evaluation - was offered and accepted a promotion to the position of Director of Operations. This is such a great move for HBI and could not have happened to a more prepared person. Over the past two years, Karen has progressively taken a larger and larger role in the leadership of our organization She has really become our go-to operations expert. This promotion provides the recognition and boost that she deserves.
Later this week we will be posting an important blog providing key updates on our NRP train-the-trainer program. We will also share some exciting news - as we recently had another research manuscript accepted for publication. More to come on both fronts.
This has been a hectic trip. We've been on the go every day. It has been . . . without a doubt, an absolutely awesome trip!
On Sunday Father Alex and I flew back to Lima from Juliaca. On Monday, Carmen and I drove to Ica to visit the Casa Girasoles. We arrived late in the afternoon and were greeted with a banner and joyous well-wishes.
Not wanting to let a moment of the suspense last - the boys quickly opened the boxes with the new bikes, cycling clothing, helmets and equipment. They were overjoyed with emotion. In fact, we later learned - they rode the bikes on the concrete pitch in the darkness . . . just to get the "feel" for their new steeds. :-)
Following the unwrapping of the new bikes, we had a pizza party (thank you Peñonetti Pizza) for the staff and boys - complete with McGrill cakes (for those of you who have been to Ica you know McGrill and their amazing cakes). The smiles on everyones faces were priceless.
On Tuesday we met with staff in a COVID-protocol manner and then jumped back in the rental car at mid-day to race back to Lima for the Center of Excellence trainings. We did the virtual training with our colleagues Kate and Billy Greenman (and their four year old son Will) in their house in Surco. Following the training we shared a meal together and spent time playing with Will.
Not wanting to let the evening end without a little more excitement Carmen and I braved rush-hour traffic (it was already 9 pm, but "rush hour" in Lima lasts all night) to drive the rental car back to the HBI office. Wow - that was an adventure . . . for sure.
Today, we are meeting as a team and will complete another course for the Center of Excellence research project. For those of you wondering, what is this "Center of Excellence" research project? I will be writing more about our work in the coming weeks - but for now, check out this blog post for a couple of months back.
I am departing Perú tonight on a red-eye flight and heading back to Portland. This has been an amazing trip filled with so many learnings, insights and reconnections. I feel incredibly privileged and grateful for the opportunity to return to the country I love and the people I hold so dear in my heart.
We're back in Huancane. We arrived late last night after a whirlwind high mountain driving trip of over 16 hours to visit the Casa Girasoles in Urubamba.
The visit - well, what can I say . . . it was very emotional. I have missed the boys and staff so much. When we arrived at the Casa Girasoles the entire house was waiting out front. It was such a joyous reunion.
After an emotional and heartfelt welcome - we went into the house for a pizza party and small celebration. Rather than use my meager words to express the sentiment - I have a short video and I will post it to the Blog when we are back in Lima at the Health Bridges office.
Speaking of what's next? This afternoon we are headed to Juliaca and a flight to Lima. Tomorrow we drive to Ica and a visit with the Casa Girasoles. We'll be delivering the new bikes and spending time with the staff and the boys. I will post more photos and updates from the road.
Thanks for all the ongoing support.
Wow. I mean, WOW! What a crazy adventure the past 3 days have been. A complete once in a lifetime experience.
We have been driving for the past 3 and a half days. We've been to some of the highest navigable peaks of the Andes and to isolated communities in the jungle of the Amazon. We have visited small churches on the top of mountains and amazing nuns deep in the jungle. We've driven hundreds of kilometers. It feels nearly impossible to do justice to the experience. So I will let my thoughts settle for the night - and instead share some of the amazing photos from the travels.
For now, we just arrived in the Sacred Valley of Cusco where we will make a very COVID-19 protocol visit to the Casa Girasoles. I wish I could say our plan is to spend hours talking with the staff and playing with the boys - but that is not going to be the case. The pandemic has made it such that this is going to a short, physical distanced first visit back in over a year. I have missed them so much. Alas, keeping the boys and staff safe and healthy is my highest priority.
I will post a longer update tomorrow. For now, enjoy the photos and thank you for all the ongoing 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.