It seems a trite statement to say the world is reeling in the face of some very devastating disasters and challenges - including the tragic events in Las Vegas that are unfolding as I type this blog. The devastating impact of a natural disaster is especially true for the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico.
News coming from Puerto Rico is very grave. Hurricane Maria has left millions without power, whole communities separated and fractured, and hundreds of thousands struggling to get basic needs like food, water and fuel. The media are reporting that schools could be closed for weeks and people are expected to be without power for the foreseeable future. This is a disaster in every since of the word.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is on the ground and working to overcome some significant logistical challenges to bring much needed relief. In addition to FEMA, there are numerous NGOs supporting local response efforts. However, even combined - these efforts will not be enough. So, how can we help? FEMA has posted a press release outlining ways to help - see: https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/27/three-ways-help-after-hurricane-maria
In addition, Charity Navigator, a not-for-profit organization that evaluates charities, has compiled a reference document and database of charities working post Hurraicaine Maria to provide support - see: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=5356
Whatever we can do - send money, donate our time, post to our social media accounts to keep the people of Puerto Rico in the forefront of public thought and policy maker discourse - whatever we can do, the people of Puerto Rico need our help.
So, let's build bridges and help. We're Health Bridges International and bridges are what we build. Thank you.
Beginning this week, HBI will be advancing a new program with Father Alex Busuttil and the Mission of Alto Cayma. The program, the Guardian Angel Program is a sponsorship program that links children and families in the communities of Alto Cayma (Father Alex's St. Helen's Parish) with international sponsors.
We are very fortunate to be taking over the sponsorship program from a U.S. based NGO (Unbound) that has worked with Father Alex for over ten years. Unbound is consolidating their Peruvian programs to the City of Lima, and this provides a great chance for HBI to be more involved in the compassionate work of Father Alex and the St. Helen's Parish.
Our priority is simple - to continue the high quality sponsorship of children and families in collaboration with Father Alex and on-the-ground staff. To do this, we will be working closely with the staff to develop all the structures needed to maintain the highest caliber of programming.
If you're a longstanding supporter of Father Alex and the Guardian Angel Program, please consider signing up for our new program on the HBI website at: and http://www.hbint.org/guardian-angel-program.html
In light of current weather events around the globe - Hurricane Harvey's unprecedented destruction in the Gulf Coast, devastating flooding and landslides across Asia, wildfires raging near our homes in the Pacific Northwest, and Hurricane Irma's imminent landfall next week - we are suspending our Summer Construction Fund.
Hurricane Harvey has displaced over 1 million people, leaving nearly 50 dead, while over 40 million people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal are affected from record breaking floods with over 1400 dead. Each of these disasters bring multi-faceted, longterm challenges that require significant attention, love, and financial support - from all of us. This is not the time to be a passive observer while the water around us continues to rise. Heroic acts are not reserved for film and fiction, but rather they begin by acknowledging each other in our greatest time of need and quite simply showing up.
The call for international action swells and we must answer it in kind. HBI is ever-grateful for your ongoing support, and right now, we earnestly ask you to support someone else. We stand in solidarity with the organizations working to stem the tide of destruction and despair across the globe. For a list of trusted aid organizations check out the links below. If you have information to share, trusted organizations to support, or questions of how to get involved - do not hesitate to reach us: Info@hbint.org
We will reconvene our Construction Fund later in 2017 - stay tuned, and thank you again for all of 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.