I was recently in the airport. Make that the domestic terminal of the Lima airport on a Thursday morning.
In a country where domestic flights are often no more than an hour or an hour and a half in duration, air travel has exploded. The airport was packed! I mean standing room only. But what was most interesting about the situation, 90% of the travelers were Peruvian. This is so much different than what one would have experienced even just 5 years ago. Way back five years ago, bus travel was the norm. Now lower cost airline tickets, new budget class flights, a vibrant and expanding middle class, and an increased desire on the part of Peruvians to visit every part of the country they love and adore, has made it such that air travel is routine. This is a new era. And, we need to be responsive to this new era.
I really like the idiom, build the plane while you fly it. I often use the cliché to describe the projects and programs of HBI. Sometimes it feels like we are building a plane and flying it simultaneously. I understand that hard-core engineers who read such a statement might find extreme offense - wondering how we could possibly build something without fully understanding all the specifications, all the requirements, all the safety considerations needed to apply the design. But those of us that work in the realm of intersectionality – the intersection of theory and practice – it is not a far fetching scenario to fully appreciate this analogy.
We at HBI are all about working at the intersection of on-the-ground real world need and the mechanisms and means of building a model that can be sustained and scaled. This means we often find ourselves implementing projects and building models simultaneously. It means we seek to understand all the complexity, while balancing partnerships and listening attentively to the needs of the people are work is designed to directly support. It means we need to be adept at juggling a number of different concerns all at once.
Over the past few years the focus of our work has shifted. We’ve moved away from implementing projects that focus solely on the needs of populations living in severe poverty. And moved toward a focus on programs and models that can sustain accesses to evidence based health services and ensure pathways for populations to chart their own futures. Our focus is on collaborating with in-country partners, local change agents, subject matter experts, and policy makers to form programs that have the potential to refine and shift health practice. This is a big change from the early days of our work. And one that I am excited about. As well as one HBI is particularly well-positioned to take on.
We’re operating in a new era. Air travel has expanded to a larger segment of the population. Technology and the Internet have made information accessible to just about everyone. Communities are now sourcing locally grown solutions to deeply entrenched issues. Young people are growing up in a world that prides itself on transparency and opportunity. All of these changes require that we work in a different manner. It means we need to be more adaptive – and collaboratively build our projects while conceptualizing the models that will allow the projects to scale responsibly. It means we need to build the planes of our work while we simultaneously fly our planes toward newer levels of impact.
It’s an exciting time for our work. It's a new era for our work.
Thank you for your continued 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.