The President of Perú released an Emergency Decree, published in the official newspaper El Peruano. The decree helps to shore up public health and emergency response and states that “those who enter the national territory [Perú] from countries with an epidemiological history will be subject to isolation for 14 days.” Currently the United States is not specifically listed as one of the countries requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Countries specifically listed include: China, France, Italy, and Spain.
I want to vote in Perú. Last week, Sunday, was a special national congressional election. Always Sundays, which seems much more reasonable than our workday Tuesdays. With high level corruption rampant, politics are more of a mess here right now than in the U.S., if that’s possible. The entire congress had been dissolved a few months ago and everyone was up for election. Voting is required in Perú and the alternative is a modest fine, though those my age and older are excused if they wish, dottering as we are.
We discovered that our 4th floor Arequipa corner apartment on the edge of old Yanahuara was immediately across from a polling place in a school, and while sipping my coffee at 7:30 in the morning I noticed a young woman, dressed in army camo fatigues and carrying an automatic weapon. She had placed herself near the school entrance, as large ballot like signs were hung and polling workers began to show up. Looked very official if not threatening. Simultaneously, in counterpoint, two ice cream vendors arrived with bright yellow push carts sprouting large umbrellas. Subsequently, two blocks were cordoned off as police redirected inconvenienced motorists at each end. Read more
I feel incredibly blessed to do the work we are doing. I am continually reminded what a great privilege it is to be in the lives of the people we serve. There are, however, days when the challenges and difficulties feel really heavy.
This has been a particularly challenging week for our team. Here are a couple short stories that speak to the dedication and commitment of our amazing team –
I really like Father Richard Rohr. His wisdom is so profound.
Father Rohr speaks eloquently about the concept of stumbling over the stumble stone. In his book Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, he talks about the importance of stumbling stones as metaphors to help connect with purpose and meaning. He talks about the power of “stumbling downward” in order to move upward. Father Rohr describes the stumbling stone as a “rock that can bring you down into a larger freedom from your small self.” Rohr is calling us all to a transformation. A transformation that will bring us to a place of deeper life work. I feel like HBI is at a place of great growth – and the stumbling stone is deeper understanding of the true impact of our work.
We started Health Bridges to create an organization whose mission is to help build connections. Our focus is bridge building. We build models of care delivery – to act as guide posts for others to use to foster better health. In some instances, this has meant identifying and securing financial resources. In other instances, supporting our partners through training and subject matter expertise. And, in even others – we’ve been a collaborator to walk alongside our colleagues in the work they do. Read more
Beauty is all around us.
Its striking how often that beauty goes unrecognized.
The other day I was running in Lima. I ran up a long ramp that exits from the beach and ascends 200 meters to the ridge above the coast. The vast majority of the time I am on that run course, I see very few people. In the summer months, January through April, there tend to be more runners and walkers – as vacations abound.
That day, a father and his son were running together. The boy, not more than 8 years old, was trudging alongside his father with a look of pained exhaustion. The father, for his part, had an equally uncomfortable look of frustration.
I caught eyes with the father. I gave him a thumbs up. I said, “Wow, this is excellent. So cool.” His demeanor instantly shifted. He reciprocated my gesture and ran on.
We are in the beautiful Sacred Valley of Cusco working with the NGO Andean Community Partners and St. Olaf College. For the past few years, we’ve been invited to support ACP and St. Olaf on a project they have facilitated in the community of Huilloc. They’ve been working in the community for almost two decades; however, in 2017 they made the incredibly important decision to really shift-gears and move toward more sustainable models of services. This is where HBI has come in. They’ve asked us to be consultants to their work, helping to identify ways they can work more sustainably with the community. This is our third year in such a role. It is a very humbling experience. I learn so much every time I am here. Perhaps the greatest lesson is one of humility.
I continue to be reminded that communities are their own best change agents. Every day they live with challenges and constraints. Every day they are faced with finding creative solutions to address or overcome their challenges. It is only through cultural humility and attentive listening that we can best support them to build their own desired futures. This connecting of the dots work, it’s all about humility. It’s all about seeing things through a shared vision. It’s about stepping out of the role of an expert and into the role of a learner. Read more
After a mellow week between Christmas and the New Year, we are back at it and fully in action. Already, we’ve hosted a team of volunteer pediatricians and dentists from Andean Community Partners at the Casa Girasoles in Urubamba to provide comprehensive evaluations and care for all the boys. We’ve also participated in an outreach project with a long-standing partner at an orphanage in Cusco. Dr. Gehringer and team have been busy with NRP trainings and prep. Nurse Karen and team have been crunching the numbers for our anemia project. And, our Ines Project team is back in the swing of things after a break over the Holidays.