We started data collection today for the Anemia Prevention and Control Pilot Project.
After a year of planning, hundreds of hours of meetings, and countless revisions on the survey instruments, data collection format and research methodology - we enrolled the first of the study participants this morning. One down and 499 more to go.
This collaborative project involving the Ministry of Health of Perú, College of Nutrition of Arequipa, Lucky Iron Fish Enterprises, Entia Corporation and Father Alex Busuttil is a unique project designed to develop and test a model program for preventing and treatment anemia in marginalized populations living in extreme poverty.
Over the next year, we'll report on our progress and post photos from the site visits and ongoing community engagement. Stay tuned for updates and thank you for all of the support.
Its Independence Day. A day of national celebration and reflection. It's a day when people work hard to put their differences aside and join together in a shared belief in the “American Ethos.”
I’m traveling home from Perú today. No fireworks and BBQ for me. I’ll spend most of my 4th of July on a flight. It’s amazing how a long flight provides space for deep reflection. I find myself reflecting on this past two weeks and the Team Perú outreach trip. Thinking about the work of HBI. And considering what lessons I gained from this past trip.
So, I’m going to write a list. A list of lessons. I’ll call the list HBI’s “Eight Lessons in Service.” So here goes:
This list, it’s not perfect. It is, however, a representation of our work and the focus we bring to the programs and projects we have dedicated our lives to developing. Thanks for continuing to support HBI and the people we serve.
Sometimes it feels hard to know if we're making a difference. The type of difference that truly empowers people to the futures they deserve.
I feel that way a lot. Wondering if we're doing enough. If we're doing the right thing. If were working hard enough to help. Then I go on trips like this past week, and I see making a difference means I need to let go of any preconceived notion as to just what the difference should be.
This past week we took a team of volunteers from around the U.S. to the City of Ica in the desert. We did a number of little projects - providing dental and medical care to the children in the Casa Girasoles orphanage, providing health talks in the public schools, and delivering water and hygiene kits to a large squatter community on the outskirts of the city.
The last activity, delivering water and hygiene kits to an impoverished community, is something we have done for a number of years in collaboration with the boys from the Girasoles home. The Girasoles (the name they call themselves, which means sunflower) join our team and walk in the dirt and sand to deliver buckets of water and kits that include basic items people need for cooking, self care and general household activities. We deliver over 200 kits and hundreds of buckets of water.
The experience is a bit surreal. We've wrestle with the project for a long time. The reason? It feels a bit like "poverty tourism." It feels like we are making people the objects of our compassion. And, at the same time - the experience provides a tangible opportunity for volunteers to connect in service. It is this connection - bringing people together to work on a shared service project that is the reason we keep doing the project.
This year I worked alongside a couple of boys delivering water. One of the boys, I'll call him Pedro, I have known for a number of years. He is actually not so much a boy - as a 20-year old young man. He is also profoundly developmentally delayed and lives with a number of challenges. Pedro and I carried buckets and delivered kits to a bunch houses together. At one point I asked Pedro why he liked doing the water delivery project. I asked him what he most enjoyed about working with Health Bridges. His response was slow, but very deliberate. He said, "Dr. Wayne, I like to know that I can help. I like serving others. [When I am] helping, I'm just another person. Serving gives me a chance to know that I can make a difference for other people."
In that simple statement I realized that making a difference is bigger than anything I could ever imagine. I realized that making a difference is far more about building the bridges that afford everyone the opportunities to find their path in life.
I'm on my way to Perú. We've got our team of volunteers assembling in Lima over the next couple of days and we'll start the Team Perú project on Sunday.
As I turn my attention to our annual volunteer outreach trip, I can't help but feel haunted by what's going on with children in the U.S.
People who know me know my politics. I don't hide my positions; however, I don't usually post political issues or items on the HBI website.
Today, things are different. I've got to say something. The issues of immigration are complex. The issues of child protection are not. Children need every opportunity to thrive. The current practices of our government are not only preventing children from thriving - they are endangering their futures. It must stop. And, we've got to all be involved.
Here are a couple of way I suggest we can all be involved: (1) Write, call, or email your elected officials and demand an end to the policy; (2) stay current on the facts (recognizing that we all get our news from different sources - just stay informed with whatever news source you use); (3) support organizations fighting the good fight. HBI is proud to partner with the Innovation Law Lab on immigrant rights and support. Check out their website for information on how you can support their work and get involved.
I'm not going to profess to have a solution to the complex issue of immigration. I don't. I do, however, know that what is going on with detained children is wholly wrong and we must all work together to protect the innocent lives of youth and young adults fleeing violence and trauma in Latin America. We've all got to work together to make certain this egregious practice of child separation stops.
This week marks the beginning of our annual summer Team Perú outreach trip. Over the coming days, volunteer team members will be arriving in Lima from around the U.S. to meet our HBI staff.
This is our 22nd or 23rd . . . or 24th, Team Perú summer trip. We're not exactly sure the trip number - but one thing is for certain, for over two decades HBI has been taking a team of volunteers from around the globe to participate in a service learning project over the months of June and July.
The trip started out of our (my wife and I) church. When I was in medical school, we started taking teams down to Perú to work in schools doing short term medical projects. I'd recruit attending physicians and volunteer healthcare providers and we'd pull off a big mobile clinic for two weeks.
After a few years of the schools based medical outreach, we realized we weren't doing anything that was sustainable or really making a big impact. That's when we starting thinking about doing something different. That something different eventually became HBI.
Now some two-plus decades later - we are still taking volunteers. The focus of the Team Perú project is to provide volunteers an intensive experience with our staff, collaborative partners and communities working alongside one another and learning and growing.
We are less focused on a specific outcome from the trips - and more focused on the impact the experience has on the life of the volunteer. We think of the Team Perú projects as "Bridge Building" trips. And, our hope is participants will walk away from their Team Perú trip experience with a clear understanding that everyone can build or be a bridge for change in the world.
We see the Team Perú trips as a part of the movement that is HBI. So, over the next couple of weeks, we invite you to connect with the project. We'll be posting video, blogs, and social media updates. Stay connected and learn more about how all of us can be a bridge.
Thanks for all of the 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.