It is hard to believe, but for almost 25 years - we've led a team of volunteers on a service learning trip to Perú. And, the 2019 Team Perú trip starts this week.
As I type this message, team members are flying in from around the U.S. We will all converge in Lima on Monday and start our service learning actives with a visit to Hope House Tuesday afternoon. From there - we will fly to Cusco and travel out to the HBI Casa Girasoles home for abandoned children in the Sacred Valley.
Since the trips inception, we've partnered with Union Biblica del Perú and their Casa Girasoles program for abandoned children. This year, however, is a bit different. This year we're actually visiting the Casa Girasoles homes with HBI operating the homes. How cool is that!
We will be posting pictures, video and updates on the Blog and the HBI social media channels. So stayed tuned - and thanks for all the many years of support.
I wrote this blog post a number of years ago. It seems very apropos to my current life circumstance.
When I was very young I became extremely interested in people. I wanted to know why people acted the way that they did. I wanted to know what other people thought. I wanted to know what other people dreamed. As an adult this fascination has continued to drive my desire to learn more about the way that I think, learn, dream, and act. I have come to realize the only way I can “know” more about others is to know as much as I can about myself.
When I get scared about the direction that my life is taking me, when I feel overwhelmed by the experiences I have influencing me – I find one common theme running through this mayhem – distrust. I know that I am not trusting that God has a plan for me. I know that I am letting my ego dictate my thoughts, and this is like being on an emotional roller coaster. When this happens to me, when I lose faith in a power greater then myself, I am as effective as two dollar bill (it still spends like money, but what exactly do you “do” with it?).
Having the privilege to work with people on the edge of life has been the greatest blessing I could have ever wished for. For, in spite of my best attempts at sabotaging the lessons that God is sending me; each day I learn the true meaning of living from people who have been pushed to the farthest margins of society. Everyday I am afforded an opportunity to work with people living in underserved circumstances and situations, I learn the tremendous lessons of trust and faith - trust that life will all work out, and faith in belief that the best is yet to come.
If I can't feel humbled and thankful in the shadow of people who, by societal standards, have nothing - then I am more of an arrogant bastard than I thought. When I slow life down to its fundamental components I realize how blessed I truly am.
What more could anyone wish for in their life than a chance to learn, love and grow - especially in such a richly rewarding way. I am so thankful to see "bigger picture of life" through the eyes of those that I have been called to serve. They are my greatest teachers . . . and, I truly hope and pray I can be their humble servant.
They say Rome wasn't built in a day. Well, I think it more likely that Rome was built in many long days with a number of different activities happening simultaneously. This adage seems to be true for any great event in history or life.
If you know Health Bridges, you've heard our staff talk strongly about why we don't like the charity model of not-for-profit work. There is nothing sustainable about charity. Instead, we believe strongly in the model of "processes in parallel." A guiding structure that has continually informed the way we work. We seek support, in the forms of donations and grant and foundation monies; and, simultaneously - we define pathways toward independence. We do both of these things at the same time.
This philosophy of processes in parallel means we are always looking for a longterm strategy to fund our efforts. This concept is at the heart of our Casa Girasoles Program. We are not only seeking support through our Capital Campaign to fund the homes, we are also looking for creative ways we can use micro-business models to finance the homes and train the boys for future job opportunities. We're looking for ways to make the Casa Girasoles homes completely self-sufficient.
The lauded goal of longterm self-sufficiency . . . its a long range proposition; but our strategies are continuously leading us toward such. Take the Center for Excellence model we are using to guide the development of the Casa Girasoles Program. We are hoping the Center of Excellence model will be a guide post for other NGOs working with formerly abandoned and displaced children. We're hoping we can grow the model into an evidence based practice with the potential to reshape child-welfare services in the developing world. If we can build, evaluate and support such a Center of Excellence model - we feel it will distinguish our organization as a leader in the field and help to build a separate role for Health Bridges as a consultant to other NGOs, government agencies, and child-welfare sector groups.
Alas, it all starts with assuring the first phase of our work - securing the funding to keep the two Casa Girasoles homes open and the children well fed, growing in their academic pursuits, and gaining access to the services and supports they need to build the futures they deserve. Oh, and in parallel - we are working on micro-business models, starting a Center of Excellence program, and continuing to advance the evidence based practices we use to support the children in the Casa Girasoles Program.
Thanks for all the support. We are so blessed by your generosity.
It is a beautiful day in Portland. The sky is clear, the temperature is just perfect, and there is a slight breeze in the air.
So, rather than drive to my meeting I decided to ride my bike. My ride took me along a well traversed bike path that dumps into an industrial area. I've ridden the route many times. There are a number of homeless encampments along the route. Its not uncommon to see people walking with personal possessions or shopping carts.
Just as I exited the bike path a young man pulling a suitcase caught my eye. He appeared to be no more than 20, and had a splint on this arm. I noticed him, but kept riding - concerned I'd be late for my meeting. Not 200 feet after passing him something inside of me said, 'turn around and go back, make a connection.' I get feelings like this a lot. I wish I could say I listen to this inner voice all the time - I don't - but today I did.
As I rode up to the young man I could sense his uncertainty. I asked him how long he had been outside and he replied that he wasn't "like everyone else." I said I understood and just wanted to give him something to show him I care. I pulled out some money and gave it to him. I told him I just wanted him to know he wasn't alone . . . and that I fully understood my meager offering wasn't going to change his circumstances. He smiled and asked me why I was helping.
We talked for a few minutes. About life, circumstances, and bicycles. When I went to leave he said, "blessings my man. Many blessings to you." As I rode away I thought, you are a blessing friend. You have blessed me.
Time travel with me a couple of weeks back. I was in a Starbucks in a shopping mall in Cusco, Peru. Three young people were busy working on a project. We were sitting at a table waiting for our colleague to arrive and casually talking. After a few minutes of glancing back and forth between our tables - there was something really familiar about one member of the group - one of the young men came over. As it turns out, he was one of the boys who lived at the Casa Girasoles home in the Sacred Valley. He is now a tour guide working with his colleagues on a new tourism project. We talked for a few minutes and caught up on life. He said he was doing great and promised to come out to the house to visit soon. He was such a blessing. He showed us how much the work of the Girasoles Program is impacting lives and creating futures.
It is really strange - you just never know where blessings will come from. But, when we open ourselves to the opportunities, the blessings are all around.
Thank you so much for your support. Support that allows us to build lives and construct futures. Check out our 2019 Capital Campaign and consider becoming a monthly donor.
Although the answer may seem obvious, I'm often asked - why support a program that works with formally abandoned children? Why is it so important?
This work, the work of Girasoles Sanos Program, is building lives. It is grounded in the notion that all children deserve access to the pathways of their futures. It is centered in our belief that all children deserve the opportunity to decide who they want to be. And, the Girasoles Sanos Program actually stops the impact of trauma, violence and intergenerational poverty. It directly breaks the cycles that trap children.
There are currently two brothers living in our home in the Sacred Valley of Cusco. They only speak Quechua, an indigenous Andean language. They are shy and withdrawn. They come from very traumatized backgrounds and deep levels of poverty. Until coming to our home, they had never eaten with a fork or knife. Nor had they had never taken a bath or shower.
Today, they are opening up. They are smiling. Our work is slow. It's about teaching the simple things like how to eat at the dinner table, or engage with adults who are your caregivers. It’s about showing the brothers unconditional love. The work is slow, but it’s showing so much promise. We are truly making a difference.
During our capital campaign, every penny we receive in donations will go directly to support the homes. All of the monies, 100%, will help to provide nutritious meals, clothing, schooling, developmental support - it will help to build lives.
What more could we want with our work then to know we are building futures for the next generation. And that's exactly what is happening in our Girasoles Sanos Program.
So, thank you - for your support, kindness and dedication. And please continue to keep the Girasoles children in your thoughts and prayer. Support our capital campaign today.
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.