Late yesterday afternoon, after a long day of meetings and planning discussions, Roberto and I were walking back to our hotel near the Vatican when I asked him how many times he had visited Rome. Without pause, he held up nine fingers. I asked him what was his favorite place in Rome and his reply was incredible. He told me, in all of his visits, he had never been to any of the ancient attractions with the exception of the Trevi Fountain. He said his trips were related to his work for the Church and he spent all of his time in or near the Vatican.
Well, needless-to-say, last night we headed out on an adventure that would take us past a number of the main attractions of Rome . . . including the Trevi Fountain.
We walked for hours. While we walked, we talked. We talked about our meetings earlier in the day. We talked about our hopes for the work of HBI. We talked about our dreams for our families and our futures. Late in the evening, after traversing the city and taking in a number of sights we found ourselves back near the Vatican and we stopped for something to eat.
At one point Roberto asked me what is my biggest dream for HBI. He said, "what is the one thing you most dream about for HBI?"
I told him my dream was to grow HBI into a global organization. An organization with the ability to create connections and collaborations between groups, communities, and organizations to best serve the complex needs of people living in the most marginalized situations around the world.
He said, "that is exactly what I thought you would say." And then he went on to give me an astonishingly powerful bit of advice. He said, "[you] have chosen a difficult path. The work . . . it's hard work." And, because it is so hard, he said, "you must never expect it to get easy. Because it won't." Rather, he said, recognize "hard work is not impossible work. It is just hard and many people get lost in the 'hardness' of the work and give up."
I won't give up. I know this work is hard. I also know the world is never going to permanently change through the actions of any one organization working in isolation or through a single Herculean effort. Rather, the world will change when we unite in our efforts and share in our resources to create meaningful pathways to the meaningful futures all people deserve. The world will change when we all build bridges.
Thank you Roberto for teaching me that our work is not impossible, it's just hard. And . . . well . . . I'm not afraid of hard work.
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.