It's Thanksgiving and the biggest holiday week in the U.S. This year feels a bit different. This year has been unlike any other. Sorry to overstate the obvious, but it feels like I need to be a little overstating.
The challenges of this year have had a powerful impact on HBI. From our team and the way we work to the shift in programs and projects - things have changed. The changes have brought a profound sense of "new order" and renewed focus. The changes have, in many ways, been extremely beneficial to our work.
Look - I don't want to use these words of accomplishment to diminish the devastating impact the pandemic has had on so many people and communities . . . that would not be fair. Instead, I am thankful for the way our organization has been driven by the pandemic to focus and refine our efforts to best respond to the communities we serve. I am thankful for the way our team has boldly stepped into their new roles. I am thankful for the support we've received from all of you.
This has been - and continues to be - an extraordinary year. There have been so many challenges. There have also been so many blessings. This year as we begin our weeklong celebration of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the support you provide our organization so that we can be servants to others in this time of great need.
My phone has been buzzing with texts, WhatsApp messages, and calls. So many of you are reaching out to say you are thinking about Perú.
In case you missed it - over the past week Perú has been through a topsy turvy time . . . with a presidential impeachment, political demonstrations and riots (including clashes with police that led to two deaths), an interim presidential government, resignation of the interim president, congressional stalemate and finally a majority vote for a new interim president and administration. Talk about a hectic week.
For many of us familiar with the Perú of the late 1980s and early 90s - the last week has been a bit re-traumatizing. It's felt like the country was sliding back into a dictatorial government. Thankfully, and through the clarified voice of thousands of young people who took to the streets chanting "you picked on the wrong generation" - a crisis was averted and a caretaker government was put in place before the April 2021 elections.
Things are not completely out of the woods. The congressional vote that led to the election of a caretaker government and interim president was not without controversy. The Peruvian congress is a notoriously fractured legislative body with lawmakers from 9 different political parties and another 15 jockeying for elected seats in 2021. Gaining a majority and building a collation in the Peruvian Congress is challenging under the best of circumstances.
The pandemic, a crushing decrease in GDP, record levels of unemployment, and decades of angst over corruption and the arrogance of the political ruling class have led Perú to a tipping point. What will happen next is not entirely clear. Change is coming. A movement is underway. Perú is seeking change.
What does this mean for our work? We've been a part of a movement for over two decades. Ours is a movement of service. The movement we are a part of is about expanding access to evidence-based health services, training healthcare professionals in best and promising practices, and overhauling child welfare services and structures to ensure every child has access to the life they deserve. We're dedicated to this movement, and we're not going anywhere.
We stand by our brothers and sisters. We stand for our beloved country of Perú.
It has been a rough couple of weeks.
I don't think it matters where a person finds themself on the long continuum that is life, the past couple of weeks have been stressful.
This morning brought the sort of closure the U.S. and the world needs. The U.S. presidential election winner has been announced and a new government will take shape over the coming months. There is a palpable exuberance in many places - including our household.
There is, however, a great division. A big divide. People feel separated more than ever. The issues of politics are just a proxy for a much bigger undercurrent of distrust and fear. It is a challenge for so many - that unifying feels nearly impossible.
Is it? Is it impossible for us to come together, to rally around a cause bigger than ourselves? I think so. I think we are capable of so much more when we set aside our challenges and focus on the collective opportunities.
The global pandemic is here to stay. The impacts . . . tremendous morbidity, devastating loss of life, economic disruption, social upending - they'll be with us for decades to come. To heal, to create a world where we can collectively say everyone has an opportunity to live the life they deserve - we need to come together. We need to heal through our collective commitment to one another.
This won't be easy. Entrenchment, tribalism, deep-seated anger - all of these things have made us completely suspicious of the "them" of our communities. We've built walls that prevent us from truly knowing one another. From truly embracing one another. And, just like walls are built - they can be unbuilt. We can deconstruct the barriers. We can unite.
It will, however, require we join together to build the world everyone deserves. We can be bridges or we can be walls, but we can't be both. Let's unite as bridges of hope. We can do this . . . together.
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.