First of all, we want to wish you all a very happy thanksgiving!
Here are some updates about the activities in Bolivia and Haiti where we are at this time. With the necessary and full renewed strength, my wife & I left last Summer after our marriage to bring once more medical assistance. This along with our local medical Doctors On Mission teams. We did so to regions where no medical comes otherwise. And yes, the needs there are still more than pressing… We always feel like reaching people who are seemingly forgotten by this world, but we know that – together with your help – we might reach to them, especially to the little ones, the sick and the elderly whose immune system can’t fight anymore the many diseases they met on their journey. Pain, suffering, and death are hard to see if you know you can avoid it with a few Dollars….
What these people seem to be really missing is professional medical help. And if there is a somewhat nearby hospital (like the Dr. Schweitzer hospital in Haiti), they still can’t pay for either the transportation or the care, even though the costs look minimal to us. It’s a big frustration for me to observe this for dozens of years.
But here is the key: We don’t need more Doctors or nurses in these places. They are there! They are local! They know the culture and language of the people. Still more… they are willing to go and looking for medicine to help, even begging for it! And yes, they themselves need financial help for their own family’s living. All they lack is the necessary money to buy the thousands and thousands of medicines they need monthly.
They need our love and financial help. Just like my family, they depend on what your heart is telling you. Your generosity works out miracles…
I am still moving on – together with the teams and your help – since I graduated 28 years ago (1990). Great efforts to help the most destitute, suffering and hungry people are done every day through our teams, through you and me.
While I am working as a Physician specialized in tropical diseases and a few other things like emergency care in catastrophic regions, my wife Carolien is doing a great job as an assistant to the local dentist and helping as a ‘nurse.’ Her creativity, great care for the little ones and beautiful smile brings hope to many!
Please have a look at Facebook under www.facebook.com/drrik and scroll down to see our activities.
BOLIVIA: We went to help again two Amazon tribes, the Aeoreo’s and the Quitucunuquiñas. Their problems are as complex as their names ;). We also visited all our other mission bases like the one in the Andes (ancient Inca tribes) and our base in the South (Guaranies).
We were very busy working to restore our Hospital Truck in Bolivia too. This truck is about 30 years old and has been used in Bolivia since 1996. It needs a major restoration. In this hot and humid climate (Amazon), a lot of moisture came in through crashes with branches of trees that went through the siding. The moisture destroyed almost the whole interior. The mechanical maintenance (about $4,650.00) is already paid for and we are now looking for an Aluminum covering that will cost us about $5,000.00. We will then start the electrical part with restoring the solar panels (we have 6 on the roof) to give electricity to our lab and many other things inside. I estimate that the total cost will be about $15,000.00. About half of this has already been covered.
HAITI: Our requested ambulance Jeep is almost paid off. The final total is about $13,500.00, and we have already received a little more than $10,000.00. We are already using this second-hand ambulance (even without number plate!) with a special permit obtained because of our special mission. Also, this can be seen on Facebook. if you scroll a little downwards and go to the many pictures put under “Album Haiti end 2018”.
We could reach the Haitian mountains on roads that aren’t roads at all and that are very dangerous. This, with a jeep that has already been driven more than 200,000 miles (a new one would have cost us $75,000.00). The path was covered with rocks and dust and we needed to climb a lot of times at more than a 20% grade!
We passed no other car the day when we drove up, nor the day we drove down, and we were still fortunate with the weather (dry and very hot!) It’s sad to say but we are still the only ones who go there. We were last there around the end of 2015 (before my disease), so we were very well welcomed. We worked – as always – till all of the medication was used up. It’s always sad to leave people behind with sickness because of a lack of medicines. Anyway, we are thankful for what we can do thanks to your help. We should not forget that every outreach – be it in Bolivia or Haiti – costs us at least a US$ 2,000.00.
And yes, I said it right. No other organization, big or small, is working in the inland regions of Bolivia or Haiti. In the last 28 years, I never saw a Doctor working where I was, except for some temporally missions (10-14 days). It’s the reason, they sent me out to bring help to the smaller islands during the super-typhoon in the Philippines, or when I went to help the minorities in Pakistan.
The few organizations I ever met in the last 28 years were Doctors without Borders with a clinic in the second largest city of Haiti (Carrefour) and in the historical capital of Sucre in Bolivia, so no help in the inland at all!
I don’t want to concentrate on this, or else my heart breaks and things would become worse. But it’s a simple truth and people forget to reflect on it. These are places where I wrote some years ago that for most of the people, it was the first time that they saw a white man or a doctor. Again, they shouted on the road “A blanc… a blanc!”
Some special news: Just a few weeks ago, I was able to see the house in Santa Cruz, Bolivia that I left 20 years ago. Together with some ladies who were the wives of a short-term Veterinarian group, I helped to start at my house an orphanage for abused orphan children. My surprise was great to hear that in the meantime 500 girls and boys have passed through there and returned to normal life. You can find the whole story when you google “Talita Cumi – Santa-Cruz – Bolivia”.
Wishing you again a great thanksgiving and many greetings from my teams and of course from me and my wife, our Doctors On Mission Teams and most of all the people in need in those regions!