December 2017

Dear friends,

Once again, we are nearing the end of the year, and as such I am making an attempt at collecting some of my thoughts to share with you here.

 

As many of you might be aware, I have been somewhat inactive for a while now due to health concerns – mainly pertaining to my back.
I have been in the Netherlands ever since February, and have spoken with many doctors in addition to me undertaking a lot of medical examinations. Regretfully, I am still not doing much better than before, but I will spare you the details. Nevertheless, recently there have been signs of recovery. I therefore remain hopeful, despite the setbacks, that I can return to Bolivia at some point. However, when exactly it would be medically advisable to return there, is still up in the air. I want to thank all of you for your support, dedication, and your thoughts and prayers!
Of course, it saddens me that I cannot be in Bolivia, because that is where my heart goes out to still.
Luckily, my family as well as others have made sure that I am well at ease back here. I am being taken care of very well!
Despite my being in the Netherlands, I have thankfully still been able to stay in contact with Bolivia. I remain informed of the goings-on there.

One of the most significant events in recent months, for me personally as well as the people in Bolivia, has to be Alex’s death. Alex was one of the youths in a house which is under my supervision. Alex had been with us for several years, and was very much dependent on us due to frequently recurring bouts of epilepsy. At some point, Alex had left the house and was discovered dead several weeks later at a lake in Cochabamba. His death was most likely accidental in nature, and was probably related to an epileptic attack that turned fatal. Alex’s death has left a major impact on the personnel and the youths of that house as well as on others. The other house which I supervise, also houses one boy who has epileptic attacks and his condition had worsened as well. Sadly, it just so happens that the youths forget to take their medication. We lose direct supervision when the children and adolescents leave our vicinity, to stay with their family, so they run into risking forgetting to take their medicine.
It becomes more and more clear to me, that providing medical care needs to be paired with education. These two things remain the most important matters we try to provide for the youths we take care for in Bolivia.

At our night shelter there is a touching new initiative: the children and adolescents there have decided to give back to the community. They feel that we give them a lot – although we certainly do not simply hand things out – so now they wish to give back to the community during Christmas time. They are currently trying to collect money by doing odd jobs around town, so that they can give a Christmas meal to another shelter for smaller children in Cochambamba. By washing cars, and such they hope to buy things for the other children. By putting their earned money together, the children and adolescents of our shelter hope to provide a Christmas meal for the others in another shelter.
That is a very thoughtful initiative, in my opinion! It exemplifies the Christmas spirit: thinking and caring about other people!

 

Dear friends, I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Furthermore, I would like to thank you very much for supporting our work! It is your support that makes it possible for us to help the children and adolescents, and give them a brighter future in Cochambamba, Bolivia. There is much for us to do, but again, it is in the great support we get from you which enables us to do this. Many sincerest thanks! I would also like to personally thank all the people who sent me cards and letters over the past months, as well as the thoughts and prayers, all of it is a great moral support to me personally as well as our enterprise in Bolivia. We hope to be able to count on you once again in 2018! None of this would be possible without your help!

My warmest regards to you all, and the best of wishes,

Theo Raaijmakers

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