After our expedition in the Amazon, we went to help out with our medical team…
First of all, I want to give thanks to all who have been praying for me and giving some extra gifts to make my treatment possible! I feel (and the results prove this) that I am on a “healing journey.”
As several of you know, I received alarming signals after I became very ill in inland Haiti and tests in Florida and California turned out catastrophic because cancer was detected, but no explanation was found regarding the pains that I suffered. Once in Belgium, it turned out that I also had a very resistant infection that is similar to the “Super Bacteria” that people were talking about during the Olympic Games. In Rio, this was due to sewage of nearby hospitals that went directly into the ocean.
This problem is of course not better in Haiti where we have a primitive hospital not that far from where I was doing consultations and taking care for about 200 orphans in the far northeast corner of Haiti. As there is neither running water nor electricity, one is forced to wash and clean teeth with sea water. They also saw that I needed some urgent rest due to an impending burn out. This, they can see on a hormonal level (my anti-stress hormones were very depleted).
Anyway, so far so good thanks to God and a multiple medical approach that costs extra money, but – I believe – it saved my life. Anyway, the health care structure in Belgium is excellent and with the help of some people and from my own colleagues, I feel a lot better.
Bolivia in the Spotlight:
But this time let’s put the Bolivian work in the spotlight. Many might rightfully wonder how the Bolivian work is going as all of the disasters, extreme poverty in Haiti and persecution in Pakistan seem to come first.
I have been working in Bolivia since 1986 in the most difficult circumstances you can imagine (poor State hospitals). In 1990, I went as a Medical Missionary for 4 years in a row going to the poorest regions in Bolivia first with a 33-year old Volkswagen until we twice won a matching grant to get the needed ambulances. At that time, roads were terrible as there were many mudslides on the narrow paths in the Bolivian Andes.
In the 90’s I went on these roads with a Volvo Hospital Truck (we still have the truck, but use it now for the lowlands). This was a very dangerous job to do and sometimes, we (our team) didn’t see any other car in more than a month, not even a jeep! We had supernatural protection all of the time and did this not because we were crazy, but we always knew that in the next village children were dying and needed urgent treatment and new hope.
Many times, I slept between some villages in order to get some rest, as the constant flow of patients was most of the time overwhelming from sunrise until deep in the night or after midnight “thanks” to the invention of the gas lanterns….
Later, we were able to set up 3 main medical mission bases (Andes, Amazon and among the Guaranies in southern Bolivia), we have set up many inland clinics and we’re constantly busy with our Medical-Pastoral teams reaching out to these regions that had never seen a Doctor, Dentist or pastor before. We are mostly active high up in the mountains, about 15,000 feet.
As many other missionaries, we have faced the difficult and seemingly impossible task of maintaining an entire infrastructure through donations which are mostly small and limited in time.
We continue now in Bolivia with about 10% of the amount of donations that we received in the 90’s. The twin tower attacks were catastrophic regarding donations and many organizations similar to ours just stopped functioning at that time. I didn’t want to leave the people behind, however, and as I also have a Belgian passport, I was safer than most American missionaries. This was also due to the fact that we were convinced that people need to get rid of their physical pains before they can receive the Good News.
I didn’t have time as a Doctor to make any serious promotions and didn’t even have the money to do so. Governments keep giving to governments, big TV fundraising events don’t reach small missions and powerful nonprofit organizations stay mostly in the cities, not in the far away countryside. Many of them just come when catastrophes happen for at the most a few weeks. Once CNN or BBC leaves, most of them are gone too. They run their organization with 20% administrative costs. My administration was my Laptop and there were no real additional costs at all.
I had observed this during the earthquake in Aquille, Bolivia (1998), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the Super-typhoon in the Philippines (2013) and even during the recent earthquake in Nepal where I could send my local northern Pakistan team to the smaller mountain villages where no other help came. I myself couldn’t go then as I even didn’t have the travel money and preferred to just send the needed donations.
Back to Bolivia…. 6 years ago, we made the decision to work with “living stones” instead of “dead stones” and started to sell pieces of the infrastructure to be able to go on with the Medical Mission outreaches there (just as we started dozens of years ago) and that’s where we are now.
Our teams are still constantly moving throughout these regions! The Bolivian mission goes on, be it in the Andes Mountains, Amazon or among the Guaranies, thanks to the great leadership of our local Bolivian leader Dr. Inocencio Ortega & his family. Sometimes, he wrote me jokingly that he became a copy of me ;)
During the last months, I lost 3 dear friends in Bolivia. Pastor Fernando died at the end of April during an accident on these horrific roads leaving behind Dr. Esther and her little child of 4 years old. I also lost my old friend Pastor Carlos Campos with whom I did my first big outreach (with the jeep of his father’s before I got the old Volkswagen) and Pastor Romulo just wrote me that our dear friend (who worked as accountant with us) Mario Baron also died. The last two died from cancer just a few weeks ago.
If everything goes well with me, I will travel again to Haiti and Bolivia but for shorter time periods. I am actually planning to go back to Haiti during October – November and to Bolivia at the beginning of 2017.
My dear friends, to continue all this work, we depend on people like you as you know. Governments are an obstacle (regarding paperwork) and not helpful at all. The reason is simple: with many of the minority groups, the government does not want any Western help coming to them, especially in northern Pakistan. We call it “passive ethnic cleansing.” Mostly, they don’t shoot them, but they also don’t provide any medical care, education or food. I saw this with the small Amazon tribes and, of course, also with the persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
Thank you for thinking on Doctors On Mission. We want to continue to go where nobody else will go!
All your help will be always greatly appreciated!
Rik & his Doctor On Mission Teams.
PS: Please pray for the family of Alidieu (Haiti). We operated on this young boy in Gent, Belgium (for free) and now he died due to malnutrition…. His weak mother was so much in shock that she went into a coma and died too. I just sent some money to pay towards the funeral costs of both. Pray for Celene (sister of Alidieu) and her father.
Doctors on Mission – Belgie:
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