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July 2020,

Dear family, friends, and acquaintances!

Once more, we are already past the halfway point of the year, so it is high time that I send you all another message. Thinking about the first half of this year brings to mind just one word for all of us: Coronavirus...

I was so used to being in contact with doctors, medical specialists, and hospitals for treatments and in one fell swoop all of that was over; the only thing people could talk about was COVID-19. So, there I was, without the ability to do much else; no more appointments at the hospital, no more visitors–just like everyone else during quarantine. Buut, of course, the Coronavirus is not just a thing here. First it showed in China, then slowly but surely it entered Europe, later it ended up in the United States, and at last it spread throughout the entire world. So, naturally, it also appeared in Bolivia and the rest of South America. It is considerably worse in Brazil, Chile, and Peru, but Bolivia’s rates are also worsening and it is, sadly, the poorest people who are hit the hardest.

The entire city was on lockdown. In no way were they prepared–well, who was?? One person per family is allowed to go in public once a week! So it is not possible to work, and that means that there is no money to buy food. Sure, you get a little bit from the government, but that won’t get you far along enough! There were even dead people laying on the streets; the funeral homes could no longer handle the demand; doctors and nurses were threatened because the people thought that they caused the disease in the first place!

And with so many people in one house, we were quite trapped in this predicament. The schools are closed and no one can work. So that means you have to try to keep people busy and away from all possible sources of infection.

And then you get some special edge cases. For instance, there was a girl that frequently stayed with us for the night shelter, and she died on the street due to COVID-19; what could we possibly do in this situation? Shut down the night shelter for a while and try to work with the people who are out on the streets? Otherwise, everyone we take care of would have easily got infected.
Fernando was brought to us; he had been with us years before when he suffered from tuberculosis; he was going to die and that ‘should then just happen in our care’; but he did not die!! He got better, he finished high school, got a job and continued his studies and even got a girlfriend and a child. And so he had already lived with his wife and kid. Yet, he was returned to us: tuberculosis again!! And that is extra dangerous now with the Coronavirus going around!!

And then we have Jasmani who lives with us; everything went well until he, at once, got a terrible infection. So we took him to the hospital and he was rushed through to an immediate surgery!! So not only do we have to look out for so many people at home, but also for one who was now in the hospital! And a hospital like that is, expectedly, not exactly ‘clean’, and there are people who have the Coronavirus in there. Nonetheless, it all turned out well and Jasmani is back up and running.

In the meantime our entire water heating system for our showers and such broke down. We had initially thought that at least some of it could be salvageable, but in the end, we had to replace everything anew!! Oh, so that was yet another concern on the piling list!!

So you see, dear people, that the entire city was locked down and that was something no one could do anything about. Then there are a bunch of other issues that get added on top of that, such as a couple of people who have to be helped in some way or another; a heating system that needs to be replaced, and so on. Those are the big events, but there are also concerns in our lives day-to-day.

That’s why, dear family, friends and acquaintances, there is never a dull moment. There is always something urgent going on somewhere. And that is why we always could use your help!! I am very grateful for all of your support and your letters and well-wishing!! I am of course also very happy with all the financial support that we receive. We hope and pray that we keep this financial security for the future, because without it we would be lost!! We count on all of you!! So thank you all so much for everything that you always do, and so we ask you for your continued support!! That is the only thing that keeps our project going which is ever more important due to the current circumstances! So, I want to leave you with my kind regards, the best of wishes until the next time!!

Theo Raaijmakers