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December 2021,

Dear family, friends, and acquaintances!

Here is a short letter for the end of the year which I was due to write, so I will try to keep it short… Whenever I start writing, well, it is also hard for me to stop… I am going to try my best!! Indeed, the year 2021 is almost at a close – just a short week and we will be in 2022!

There are always certain things that jump out at me from any year. This year, of course, I think of the fortieth Toermee (a community-sponsored/fundraising bicycle trek through my hometown of Moergestel)!! It is hard to imagine, forty years long and without corona, it might have even been more. Once again, my many thanks to everyone there who has contributed and participated throughout those years in every way!!

It is, of course, another corona year across the world and many people have suffered as a result of it. On the flip side, others have taken on enormous endeavors for the victims, the sick, the families who were and are struck by it still. There is not enough gratitude in the world to thank all the efforts of medical personnel; doctors and specialists, caregivers and volunteers, and all those who have committed themselves to help others.

Bolivia has of course also been struck by the pandemic. You will not hear a lot about it, just as little as all the other poverty-stricken countries. Here, in the Netherlands, we discuss vaccinating or not, the severity of measures taken, and who suffers the most overall, etc. I heard from people in Bolivia, who only had a small sum of money that they had to make choices: food for their children or buying facemasks… Well, maybe that decision is not that difficult then, but still…
There is still a considerable level of poverty in Bolivia. I am in nearly constant contact with our people there and I am doing well in staying up-to-date. It is difficult when you have a house with forty adolescents for whom you have to care. It can be hard making sure everyone is taking appropriate measures: washing their hands, regularly using facemasks, using hand sanitizers, and keeping physical distance, etc. Still, they accomplished that and no one has contracted the virus. Lessons are now in the form of distance learning. But who has that many computers or mobile phones or even consistently functioning internet for that? You can have everything well-organized on paper, but the reality is always hard to anticipate.

But we keep on trying to give all those adolescents special attention through education and medical care; two of the most important pillars in any person’s life. We do as much as we can – maybe it is only a drop in the ocean but that one drop means the world to those children because, without it they would have even fewer chances in these already trying times.
The help we can give them is only possible through the support we receive from you each time! Fortunately, there are a couple of people there I can fully trust. That is why I want to once again ask you for your help now, during Christmas and for the upcoming year of 2022, because without your financial support from you all, we would be nowhere and we would not be able to get anything accomplished.

On a personal note, not much has changed for me. I did get special treatment for my pain in Zwolle – with a huge needle (!!). And it truly seems to have done something concerning the pain. It has only been a month since I got that injection, but if it keeps going like this, then it might be possible that I get one of these injections once every five or six months. And just maybe then I can begin phasing out my other painkillers a bit. We are hoping for that to be the case because that would be a major improvement. Even among my family and friends there are (and have been) severely sick ones, and we have lighted many candles and sent prayers on high for them. So much happens in one year. Luckily, we did not have COVID in our house, but in our other house near us, we had about six cases. Fortunately, none of them were severe cases. But: we must keep an eye out for everyone!!

Dear reader, I am going to keep it short. Once more I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support for our work. We keep counting on you in the upcoming year, of course now during Christmas, but let’s not forget at other moments during the year!! We are incredibly thankful for it!!

I also wish you a very merry and cheerful Christmas and all the best for the new year!! Keep lighting candles for everyone in Bolivia as well as for our and their health (and mine as well please!!)!
Sincerely, thank you, thank you, thank you, and please keep supporting us!

With the best of wishes and many greetings, until next time!!

Theo Raaijmakers