I send a very welcome greeting from the desert city of Ica on the southern coast of Perú.
We arrived yesterday afternoon. The adventure started when I arrived in Lima yesterday around 8 am – I quickly changed bags, took a shower at the HBI office, and jumped in the van for the 5’ish hour drive to Ica.
I started writing this blog update while driving down the Pan American Highway in the van. As the world whizzed by the vehicle’s windows, I thought about a billboard I’d seen the night before in the Los Angeles airport. The billboard – a variation on a viral expression that seems to be born from the terrorist attacks of September 11th, stated something to the effect of “if you see something [unusual or out of the normal], say something [to initiate help].”
There is so much out of the ordinary. The massive differences in living standards or life experiences exist in our planet’s austere geographic locations. The seemingly passive approach we are now taking in the United States to combat the COVID-19 pandemic – with hundreds of people dying every day in the U.S. from a very preventable infectious disease. Preventable if we choose to take a “we’re in this together” approach to prevention.
However, like so many things – we’ve made prevention the individual’s responsibility. You do you, and I’ll do me. You wear a mask if you want to, and I will if I choose. We’ve lost sight of the notion that we are connected by so much more than our zip codes. We are all connected in this experience of life. That means so much!
In a little less than 24 hours, I flew from our home in Portland to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, Los Angeles, and then on to the fantastic city of Lima – finally, driving down the Pan American Highway to the sprawling desert city of Ica. The contrast was – to be overly simplifying – tremendous.
The challenges of living in the experience of economic poverty are real. They impact – disproportionately – some communities over others. The impact, however, has a similar influence regardless of where we live. The damaging effect is especially true for children.
Our work with children living in residential care because of abandonment or homelessness has taught me that helping children identify the pathways to their desired futures requires a team approach. It takes an “all hands on deck” level of collaboration. A child who is unable to build the future they deserve impacts everyone. It has extending influence that lasts for generations.
We can, however, change the cycle. We can build a different future for the thousands of children in Perú living in state-run homes, orphanages, or residential care facilities. We can create a more inclusive and nourishing experience. It starts by calling out the injustices we see all around us. It begins by recognizing the inequities and inequalities – and then working together to change the structural imbalances.
We are not going to reshape the world by working independently. We need to collaborate. We need to build bridges of support. We must be in one another’s lives.
I have seen something, and I need to say something.