Happy New Year. Maybe I should say - Happy Almost New Year!
In the final days of 2017 I've been spending a fair amount of time planning for a very busy first quarter of 2018. In fact, we hit the ground running with a trip to Perú on New Years eve. Yep, for the first time in a number of years my wife and our daughter are going with me to Perú. It's a big deal. For a number of reasons.
With so much of my life spent in Latin America, it feels weird that Lee and Alex know so little about my life and the work HBI. So, the first thing we are going to do in 2018 is go to Perú. It will be a chance for me to take them around (we're going to Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Urubamba, and Machu Picchu) and show them parts of our work (we'll visit a couple Union Biblica Girasoles homes and tour the Ines Project; as well as work with Father Alex in Alto Cayma), and enjoy some rest and relaxation with my family.
Immediately after their departure, I will be joining a team from St. Olaf College in Minnesota for a medical and dental outreach project in the Sacred Valley. We'll be pilot testing a new electronic health record system for mobile outreach clinics (just a little side project we've been incubating for a couple of years now). If the mobile EMR works, it will allow outreach clinics to connect around a content access point to share records, tap into diagnostic and clinical support material, and create a virtual network - without the need to connect to the Internet. We're piloting the model, thanks in very large part to support we've received from an Intel technology genius and some donated hardware. If successful - it could be a model for remote outreach clinics to integrate technology to enhance patient care and advance evidence based care delivery.
When I leave the Sacred Valley I'll be heading back to Lima for meetings and then on to Arequipa to rejoin the St. Olaf Team for a week working with Father Alex and the Mission of Alta Cayma.
All of this activity will be taking place against the backdrop of a fresh start for my involvement with HBI. My all in work will be busy - and one of the things I've realized is that in order for HBI to be successful, for me to be successful, we need to work smart just as much as we need to work hard. To this end, we'll be sharpening our focus in 2018 and prioritizing our efforts on a few select programs and projects. In 2018, our mantra will be "prioritize and focus." We will be focusing our efforts to maximize our impact - and I know this will make us successful.
Okay, all of that is to say - stay tuned. This is going to be a great year for HBI. I am excited to share this experience. Thank you for all of the continued support.
I hope you have a healthy, happy and safe New Year's Celebration.
It is so hard to believe an entire year has gone by. And yet, here it is, Christmas Eve 2017. Wow!
We've got a big 2018 planned. One of the first things we'll be doing is a Lego Adventure. Thanks to a number of generous contributors, we've amassed a sizable amount of Legos for our trip. We'll be posting photos and blog updates throughout our adventures in January.
As I look back on 2017 I feel truly blessed. Blessed for all the generosity bestowed upon us. Blessed for all of the volunteers who have participated in our programs and projects. Blessed for the many partners that work with us to build bridges. And blessed for the continued belief in the mission of our organization.
Health Bridges International is fortunate to have such a supportive and engaged community. Thank you.
A blessed and peaceful Holiday Season and a very Merry Christmas.
What does it mean to go all in? This is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately.
You see, 2018 is a big year for me. I am going all in for HBI. For the past 11 years (since we started HBI), I've worked another full-time (plus) job in addition to my role with Health Bridges. This has been tough. Well, this year I'm going for it. I am going to give my time, energy and passion over to HBI.
This is a big deal for me, and a bit scary. It means that I will be learning new things and growing just as much as HBI. One thing I am working on is my ability to act as an effective fundraiser. I've been trying out new skills in my approach to the end-of-year anemia fundraising campaign.
In the past, I've sent one or two, maybe even three, newsletters per month alerting our stakeholders of a campaign. This time I'm sending 14 newsletters in 14-days. I hope it isn't too much. The last thing I want to do is alienate our supporters. And, I know that getting to the next level for HBI will require a new approach to a lot of things - and the anemia campaign is my first attempt at going "all in" on fundraising.
Let me know what you think about our new approach to fundraising and stay connected to the HBI blog as I chronicle my adventures (and learnings) over 2018. This is going to be a big year for HBI - and I am so excited to go all in!
Thank you for all of the continued support.
I woke up this morning with a great sense of dis-ease.
What’s happening in parts of the world is so unsettling. The humanitarian crises in Yemen and Syria that is leading millions of people to leave their country in fear. The conflict-fueled hunger crises in Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan – and the threatening convergence that will lead to one of the greatest famine in history. The continued political and social unrest in Central America and the subsequent invisible refugee crisis that has erupted along the southern U.S. border. All of these challenges are weighing heavy on my mind.
This “mess” we seem to find ourselves in brings great feelings of sadness. I feel a little like a frog that’s been boiling slowly in a pot of hot water and then suddenly realizes what is happening to him – when it’s too late.
I am, however, a diehard optimist. I know that my feelings of sadness are not enough to spark change. I know that I need something to focus my efforts into. I need action.
In a very real way, this is what HBI is all about. Creating actionable ways to make the world a better place. Perhaps not at the grand scale. Not yet at least. The goal is, however, to make HBI into a global organization that can contribute to meaningful solutions and enhance dialogue to advance local efforts.
I recently helped (in a very small way) with the efforts of social justice and immigration advocates, no – make that heroes, working to bring greater recognition to under-reported issues happening in the U.S. There is a real tragedy happening in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in the State of Texas. An HIV positive man, seeking asylum to the United States to prevent persecution and gain access to lifesaving medications to treat his chronic medical condition, has been under tremendous duress and extreme stress. The man was recently on a 7-day hunger strike to protest the conditions he was facing in the government run ICE detention facility. An article appeared in The Nation highlighting the case - https://www.thenation.com/article/an-hiv-positive-gay-asylum-seeker-staged-a-seven-day-hunger-strike-in-an-ice-detention-facility/
However, a quick Google search identified only one other article. So here I am, in a very small way – trying to bring greater dialogue and recognition to a challenge happening in our own borders. Here I am making a call for others to know about the plight of a man that deserves far better treatment and respect than he is receiving. Here I am saying - we must stand together for change.
2018 is going to be a big year for HBI. We are going to work very hard to focus our efforts and strategically advance our programs and projects. We are going raises our voices in a much louder and bolder way for people living in marginalized and underserved circumstances. We are going to invite everyone into some level of continued action. Because, with action – we will make the world a better place. I know it!
It's already December?! Where did the 2017 go?
As we wrap up the year, we are ever mindful to the projects and programs looming in the very near future that is 2018. In fact, we have a full January planned for HBI and our partners.
One of the very first projects of the new year is very close to home for me. My wife and I are taking our seven year old daughter (Alexandra - named after Fr. Alex) to Perú. Alex is a lego freak. She absolutely loves to build legos. A few months back we were planning a family trip over the Holiday break. We tossed a number of ideas around and asked Alex where she wanted to go. She said, "I want to go to Perú and teach all the kids in the homes (the Union Biblica Casa Girasoles) how to build legos." Well - its a bit hard to deny this opportunity. So, at the end of this month we are taking Alex and a few big bags* filled with legos for a trip of a lifetime. We will visit a few of the Casa Girasoles and spend time with Father Alex. Our little Alex has planned a whole "curriculum" of teaching legos and play. It is going to be a fantastic experience for our whole family. *As a side note - if you would like to donate legos to this project, please contact HBI at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directly on the heels of the "Lego Adventure" trip (immediately after my wife and our daughter return home), the HBI team will welcome faculty, students and a medical team from St. Olaf College for a three week service learning trip. We will be working with the St. Olaf group on projects in the Sacred Valley of Cusco and the Alto Cayma communities of Arequipa. We'll be posting updates throughout the three week service learning adventure - so stay tuned.
Finally, we have our ongoing projects - and Nurse Karen will be facilitating another training of the volunteer firefighter "Master Trainers" participating in our emergency response pilot project and Dr. Bob will be all over the country training trainers for our NRP project.
Yep - its going to be a big year for HBI and we are kicking off 2018 with a very busy (and productive) January.
Thanks for all of the continued support. Please stay connected to our website and social media for updates.
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.