I am just back from Peru. We had our whole team in country for a series of projects and a staff retreat. The trip started with a bang, as we went back to the mountain hamlet of Kusi (just outside of the town of Yungay in the province of Ancash) to work with the Union Biblica Girasoles home. We've been taking teams to Kusi for years, and this October was the first time in a number of years that we have not had a full team of volunteers. Instead, we focused on two projects - helping to implement a garden for the Girasoles boys and working with a connection of local mountain guides to start a outdoor project for the home. For many years our work with Union Biblica has been focused on establishing and promoting basic health services - i.e., working to reduce or eliminate malnutrition and anemia in all of the homes, helping to establish ongoing connections to local health clinics and providers, assuring ever child is up to date on his or her immunizations, and reducing the incidence of personal disease (cavities). It has, however, become clear that we have an opportunity to advance a wellness model with the homes. A model that seeks to establish long term health practices with the kids in the homes and works to link them with health promoting activities and knowledge. Hence the reason we decided to put in a garden and establish a fitness program.
This trip had us working with a volunteer agronomist (Mr. Josh Minchow) and a dedicated Board member (Mr. Stephen Manning). Josh took on the garden. Stephen the fitness program. Both projects were extremely successful. We found instant collaboration with the boys. They were eager to be involved in planning the garden and spent a number of hours working alongside us to till the soil and plant over 50 fruit trees. On the fitness side - the local guides from a Huaraz based climbing club, took the boys boulder and taught them about basic mountaineering. The guides and the boys were equally so excited that before we even completed the first experience - they were planning for future get-togethers and outings.
It was so incredible to watch the Girasoles boys find new meaning and purpose in these two simple projects. We are hoping to scale - expand - the projects to all of the Union Biblica homes. Alas, one step at a time.
Dr. Wayne Centrone, Executive Director
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.