This is particularly true for Latin America. As North America and the European Union (including our friends in the U.K.) move from the initial “shock and awe” phase of the pandemic – our colleagues, partners, friends, loved ones, and families in Latin America are feeling the full brunt of SARS-COv-2 and Covid-19. Perú has extended the state of emergency and obligatory quarantine until June 30 – and Brazil, Venezuela and Chile struggle to contain the pandemic and the devastating economic impacts.
We have a ten year old. This morning we were talking about shows we watched when she was much younger. We reminisced about characters and stories. I half expected her to ask me to get my phone to check out some of the programs. Instead she said, “Papa those are fun memories. I liked those shows, but now I see things a little differently. I’m older. I like different shows that challenge me differently.” And, just like that she taught me an incredibly important lesson.
One thing is clear – whenever we come through the tunnel of the pandemic, things won’t be the same for HBI. We’ll be different. We’ll have a different focus. It may be only slightly different, but it will be different. Read more
Very early, almost at dawn, the Peruvian television news showed us an unimaginable scene: hundreds and hundreds of people sleeping on the streets of Lima, faces tired from the cold, hunger and despair. Women carrying their children in their arms, sleeping on cardboard. The elderly, young people, adults: people like us and like our families sleeping on the streets in the damp and the cold. Bodies sheltering other bodies. All hoping that in the new day, the desire to return to their cities of origin, to the small homeland, where friends and family live, where they feel part of a community, of a shared history, in the land of their parents and their ancestors.
Fractals are amazing. They represent a core concept in nature. They summarize all that is complex and poetic about life and the world we live. From the whole are the pieces and from the pieces is the whole.
The concept of fractals struck me today. We have a small neighborhood restaurant just down the block from our home in Portland. The restaurant wasn’t open for more than 2 months when the pandemic hit. Within a matter of days, the windows were papered, their neon sign shut off, and an announcement was prominently placed on the front door – “Closed by order of the Governor. We’ll be back. Until then, follow-us on Instagram.” Just like that – a single handwritten sign brought to an end what was assuredly months of preparation and a lifetime of savings. Read more
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it really hard to stay focused on all the immediate and urgent needs – and plan for the bigger future. This is particularly important when it comes to building opportunities for the older boys who ‘graduate’ from the Casa Girasoles program. They are getting older – in-spite of the social isolation and mandatory quarantine, and we need to help them build bridges to the next phase of their lives.
Ideally, every boy in our Casa Girasoles Program would apply and be granted a government supported scholarship to study at university. The challenge – not all the boys are best matched to a university education; and, the program is extremely competitive. As such, we face a daunting challenge of building our own graduation program.
We’re fortunate to be in partnership with Paths of Hope and their amazing team of Kate and Billy Greenman. Together we’re working on a plan for the older boys – but everything has been stalled with COVID-19. So, without a lot of formal programs – we’re taking it case-by-case, boy-by-boy.
Yesterday I had a call with a faith-based NGO that runs a program in Cusco. They accept young adults transitioning from orphanages or homes. In addition to helping with school enrollment – university, technical or trade school – they also provide housing, case support, psychological therapy and life skills development. It’s a great program. They’ve graciously accepted three boys from our Casa Girasoles in the Sacred Valley. Read more
Things are really tough. I am convinced this is true for all 7.5 billion people on the planet. The challenges are, however, more profound and impactful for the poor of this world. This is especially true for the people we serve in Perú. The families living in extreme poverty with children living with disabilities and medically fragile conditions are really struggling. They are hard pressed to figure out how to make each day manageable.
The boys in our Casa Girasoles homes are safe, well fed and protected, but the challenges of social isolation are starting to weigh heavy on them. For a child who has lived so much of their life on constant hyper-vigilance, always ready to protect themself from injury our harm – the current state of the world can be too much. There are more outbursts. More temper-tantrums for the little ones. More strong words from the older boys. Things are tough. Read more
It’s hard enough figuring out the 6-foot rule that now governors our lives. Let alone trying to determine how to go about life in the age of social isolation, quarantines, and mandatory restrictions. The fleeting moments of “normal” are quickly usurped by the overwhelming realization there is no normal as we have known it for most of our lives.
Finding a new normal is the focus. Finding a new way to connect with the people on our team who are on the ground and facing great challenges in meeting the needs of the families we serve. Helping the staff at the Casa Girasoles find some level of normalcy for the children in our homes. Normalcy that includes laughing and playing, and just being kids.
When I was in college, a mentor gave me a book. It changed my life. The book, a Buddhist meditation on building a life of commitment, has never felt more pertinent.
Chop Wood, Carry Water is an exploration of the idea that the most divine moments of life come not in the glamorous and glorious – but in the mundane and routine. It is meditation on finding spiritual awakening through a commitment to the daily experiences of life . . . . chopping wood and carrying water. Read more
One thing I am finding extremely important in this very uncertain time – staying connected to our HBI team.
Today, on two continents in 20 different locations – all 38 people who make up the HBI team met on a Zoom internet call. It was the first time, virtually or physically we’ve gotten our whole team together . . . and, it was great.
Being together today – with variable audio connections and a multitude of interpretations of virtual meeting etiquette – it was just awesome. It was so great to see the totality of our family. And, that’s really what the meeting was all about – being together as an HBI family. This challenge has pulled us together It has made us stronger. Read more
This morning I was going through my desk, as I hunker down for a long period of working from home. I found a bunch of old pictures. Some of the photographs were from a medical outreach campaign we did well over 20 years ago. A medical outreach project to a community where we still work today.
The pictures, aside from the young faces, tell an astonishing story of our history. From the work we originally did providing direct care to underserved communities, to our work developing advocacy programs, model service delivery programs, and training health professionals . . . we have come a long way as an organization. Now, in the face of this global epidemic, we are working as an organization to really make sure we have the knowledge, skills, tools and resources to best serve the communities we are called to serve.
Today was the first day the team for our Ines Project, a project for medically fragile children and their families, met virtually. Our team got together on web cameras in various parts of the city of Lima and worked to assure families living in significant poverty with children with medically fragile conditions and living with a disability, have the resources, advocacy, and services they need to best take care of themselves . . . in this extraordinary time.
I am so proud of our team. I am so proud where we’ve come as an organization. When I look back at the old pictures and I see the work we did; and now, the work that we are doing – it is astonishing how much we have grown.
We are as committed as ever to building bridges.
I am excited to see how much more we will learn and grow as we respond to the challenges facing the communities we serve in the face of the global pandemic – and in the new climate and culture that will surely form.