Cochabamba, December 2011

Dear Friends,

 

Another year has almost gone by, and I don´t know where is has gone… It seems to go faster every year. Just recently I read a book (in Dutch) which was titled something like ¨Why life goes faster when you get older¨; I had had that book for quite a while, but I never wanted to read it, because I thought that is was for older people…. Recently I also got another little booklet in Dutch which has a title which says more or less ¨O God, a senior moment!!¨, which says things like ¨Parents have to be nice to their children, because they choose the Old People´s Home¨!! What is it that people are trying to tell me?? Of course, I am no longer 30 years old, but every day here in Bolivia is a full day, and I have to say that that is the way I want it. When I was in the Netherlands this year, I said a couple of times that for me the worst thing would be a very quiet room with a clock ticking very loudly…. There is no danger of that here in Cochabamba, but I do like to have a few quiet moments every day, just as I like to have a Eucharistic celebration every day if it is at all possible, to make sure that we are not just running around the whole time.

Of course, many things have happened in the past few months. We have been able to re-open the house Wiñay of Amanecer, it has got a second floor now and that means that we can offer shelter to more children there, and we have been able to do all that building work thanks to the help we received from a couple of organizations, a school in the Netherlands, and some friends over there. We now have our own new Night shelter, recently built with the help of friends and organizations in the Netherlands; we have been able, a couple of weeks ago, to inaugurate and bless the new building, which offers space every night to a certain number of youngsters/kids (we don´t want too big a number there, because otherwise it is very difficult to have good contact with every individual). Other people have helped us, as every year, with the studies of a big number of children and youngsters; there are people who help us to buy the school materials which all the kids need, and there are others who make sure that we have scholarships for more than forty youngsters in higher studies (technical/university studies) (just recently I counted how many students I had – I myself did not realize that there were so many!!). We also receive help for the many sick people who come to us for help; this year Igor and Zenón are two of the special ´cases´; I have mentioned Igor before, the young man who needs a kidney transplant; we are still waiting because he is having tests for a possible tuberculosis infection… Zenón is a patient with the same problem; he was sent to us by the hospital because he does not have anyone to take care of him, and for the moment we are getting him dialysis….. But there are also many other sick people, like e.g. Fernando who needs about $200 worth of medicines every month… Apart from those things, I have of course a lot of work in Casa Jerusalén and Casa Ana Maria, two houses for young people, which are both full-up; this year I have maybe done a little less in the school (and perhaps I´ll try to kind of get out of there slowly…), I have my work in the parish and in the women´s prison, and they would love to have me in another couple of places, but I can´t do everything!! We have also had a couple of dramas this year, especially the deaths of Sandra (41) and Sergio (54) who both worked with us, Sergio for many years, but Sandra was the one whom I personally worked with a lot. It will be very difficult to find replacements for them both. Fortunately there are also always many good and beautiful moments. There was e.g. at some point a youngster called Mauricio who had not handed in his salary (they have to save at least part of their money with me); later on it turned out that with his whole salary he had bought food for a group of people on the street, because he himself had also lived on the streets for many years and the one thing which he had wanted most and never got was chicken with chips, so that is what he bought and shared with them!! There was also a note from Erwin who lived for a while in Casa Jerusalén, and I got that note just before he left; he showed in his letter that he was very grateful for the time he had been with us; he was crying when he left, he went back to his family, he was still very young (13) but his gratitude was enormous!! There is also a person in Casa Ana Maria called Ismael, who has no idea what it

means to get/stay angry with someone or to feel bitterness, someone who has really in our house grown into a wonderful person. Another Mauricio who was going away, to the army and back to his family, made it a point to thank us for everything we had been trying to do for him; I thanked hím and he asked me why, so I told him "for being Mauricio", because he was another person who made enormous progress in the time that he was with us; of course, it turned into another tearful farewell!! There have also been a number of new ´grandchildren´, we have had baptisms, some of the youngsters I knew fifteen or so years ago got married… We have someone like Dayne who is doing very well in her studies, her mother Carmen who now, after many years, again has teeth in her mouth, a job that was done by one of our youngsters who became a dentist, there is another dentist Edgar who has a lot of patients, Mariela who is doing very well in her studies (she has a child now, but she continues with her studies); so many beautiful and good things!! There are also more difficult situations like the one with Victor and Luis, two youngsters who live with us in Casa Ana Maria, two brothers who hardly talk to each other….; we often have a good laugh with them and it is great to be with them, but they have a lot of personal problems, too. So, because of all these reasons and because of many more, we just keep on doing as much as possible! It is really worth all the trouble and the effort, and, as I say, there is a lot more still, and many things which I have forgotten….

I want to thank all of you for everything that you do for us, because without you, we would be lost!!

I trust that also in 2012 we´ll be able to count on you! Our kids and youngsters need you!!

I wish all of you a very Blessed Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!

With kindest regards and all best wishes!!

Theo Raaijmakers Gifts may be sent to:

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