December, 2018

Dear friends and acquaintances,

Once again, we are almost at the end of another year – where does all the time go? – so, once more, it is high time to let you hear from me. Writing is hard at times, especially on the computer, but I am doing my best to making something of it.


When I look around my room – just as my visitors do – I see nearly a hundred pictures of people, mainly from Bolivia. And that means a lot to me, as it also does for all those other people who visit me. It tells me: ‘‘my heart is in Bolivia, and it remains there’’. For quite a long time now, I have been here, in the Netherlands, but I have certainly not given up hope; I try, every day, to keep up my good spirits to continue on!! And many of you do the same; that’s why there was a bingo-game in Moergestel for the sakes of the youths in Cochabamba, as well as another ‘Toer Mee’ event, not to forget the sale of Christmas cards and nativity scenes, and a great many other such endeavors. We are still working on my return to the country and the city that I love!! While I have already hung up some hundred pictures, I have another hundred I could also put on the wall!!

angel damaris en liamI have daily contact with Bolivia, only through WhatsApp really, because I am most acquainted with the platform. I am still asked for advice and I try my best… Ángel wrote me, saying: ‘‘Padre Theo, I have to tell you something’’. I wrote back, ‘‘Go ahead, Ángel, is it about your girlfriend? Is she expecting or has the child already been born?’’ Two days later I received a picture from Ángel with his girlfriend, Damaris, and the baby. They told me that I should decide what to call the child… I think I will call the baby Liam Gabriel. That picture is one of the hundreds on the wall.

Davíd is someone who also lives with us in our facility, and this year he has to do his final exam to become a physical therapist. To think that years before he came to us straight from the streets!! Fernando has also been with us for years; he has always had bouts of epilepsy, but, nevertheless, he in fact graduated for his final exams in high school!! Although he has given us some headache, he is also the source of such great news!! In Casa Ana Maria we have seven teenagers who are about to finish high school, one of them might even graduate as the school’s best student!! Are those not great results??

There is also a picture of Giovanna’s kids on the wall. Three children. The father of her first daughter met his end rather quickly due to AIDS. Giovanna and her daughter were, luckily, not infected. She met another man, although sadly he frequently lived out on the streets, was addicted to glue and other drugs, and alcohol too. There was a lot of domestic violence, but they did end up having two kids together, and another one quite recently. Ultimately, he ended up working in Chile, but his salary ends up with another woman he has met since then. Every now and then Giovanna gets something for her kids from him. She herself earns money by selling socks on the streets. We are, in any case, trying are upmost to keep those kids in school so that they may have a chance at a better future. Giovanna is a young lady who has suffered a great deal, but, who, nonetheless, does everything she can for her children and to give them a chance at a good life. Achieving this would be a great achievement indeed!!

Then there is Jhérico’s picture. He should be around 22 years old now. Back when he was only 2, his mom went out to buy milk and never returned. Jhérico has just about lived his entire life out on the streets, sniffing glue, but remaining a good person who never steals or anything of the sort; he has a girlfriend now, and they have a child together, all out on the streets. We aim to keep contact and not give up on them.

Another picture shows our school and all kinds of on-going activities. Some 200 boys and girls who, at least, now have a real shot at life by being able to get an education.

Among the pictures, there is one of a Brazilian family, they are good friends of mine; it shows the grandfather, father, and the son, Nicolás. Affluent people, very good people. Nicolás has only just started his studies in the US. That big divide in wealth is surely also noticeable in Bolivia, and a lot must be done to change it. This family is of very good character, sincere, and open to help our youths.
And there are so many of them, these young people: Mateo, Alberto, Luís, Víctor, Felicidad, Vladimir, Cecilia, Ismael, Margaritha, Andrés, Albino, Sabino, Jhoaquín, José Luis, and I could go on and on. Every single one of them has their own story, born in poverty, and still having come so far, achieving so much.

Limber married, but, regretfully, Omar and Marcelo, both 35 years young, died in the past couple of months.

My wall and the doors are covered in pictures, dear reader, and I have, because of them, so many dreams and goals. In the past months I have had a lot of people visit me, such as some of my best friends in my entire life, and they confirmed my true calling: ‘‘trying to do something positive for the people who live lives like that of Giovanna’’. That is something we absolutely must do! But I cannot do this alone, and that is why I ask you to help me in this pursuit. That includes Christmas: trying to give these people a new shot at life and happiness, something so few people get. Some light in their darkness.

I thank you all for what you are doing, and I hope that you will continue and keep helping us go forward. And I want to keep fighting as to, again, be able to fully commit myself in the future to this cause.

Many thanks for all your kind cards, e-mails, your candles and prayers, and all the well-wishing for me, and the financial support that I may receive from you for this cause!! I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and all the best for the new year, 2019!! With the kindest regards and the best of wishes to you all!!

 

Theo Raaijmakers
(cellphone no. ONLY for WhatsApp: 06-11 49 52 76)