Update on Luch –Luch is no longer in pain and has gone to a better place. All donations that were made have gone to help the family and have been used to help cover medical and other expenses. It was one of the great honors of my life to have met her and her family, rest in peace.
Living as an expatriate in countries like Guatemala and Mexico can have many rewards; your life can be filled with adventures big and small, you can see amazing beauty in the natural as well as the human world, you meet wonderful and unique people from diverse cultures and you can be shocked back to the reality of how fortunate you are in light of the needs of others. There are a great many needs in the world today and Chiapas is no exception. It is not possible, or even appropriate, for a few gringos to change the social structure and lift everyone in poverty here out of hard and difficult lives. Knowing that you can’t change things for everyone could easily lead a person into thinking they can’t change things for anyone, that would be a mistake.
A little over a week ago my friend Andrea asked if I could help raise awareness to the plight of an impoverished indigenous Tzotzil Maya woman in the town of Zinacantan, just outside of San Cristobal. Her name is Luch Vaskis and she is a burn victim in desperate need of surgery among many other things. My first reaction was not very positive. “This sounds impossible, it will take a ton of money and how can I have any idea if the money will even get spent well. I have seen charitable money down here go in the wrong direction all too often.” I was not happy about about these feelings, so when Andrea asked if I would like to drive out and help take some photos of her burns for doctors in the States to look at, I enthusiastically agreed.
Luch is a 32 year old woman who suffers from occasional seizures. One day about four months ago she had a seizure and fell into a cook fire. Her dress caught fire and she suffered very severe burns to her legs and backside. The shin bone and kneecap of her right leg are still exposed from the flesh being burned away. The wounds are clean, but horrific. Every day a priest who has had some medical training comes from San Cristobal to change her dressings and clean her wounds. There is no topical pain reliever or any pain relievers at all other than aspirin. The pain must be beyond description all of the time and even worse when her dressings are being changed. Medical help of the kind she truly needs does not exist in this area and there seems very little hospitals here can or will do.
Andrea became aware of Luch’s condition through her landlord who is an anthropologist that is currently living in the United States. He has started a fund for some of Luch’s needs and also the search for qualified medical help. Here is a link to his information on Luch’s condition and a Paypal donation button. All I could think driving away from Luch’s house the first day we went out there was, “What a pessimistic asshole I can be sometimes!”
We have now been out to visit Luch three times and have already located a mattress to get her off the thin pad for a bed she was on. We’ve started raising money through our friends, Andrea has blogged about it and now I am putting this out there to the big wide world. That means both you people who are my regular blog readers and anyone else who may stumble upon my ramblings here. Donations are welcome and WILL be well spent on critical needs. I am really hoping someone out there knows of a burn center with an outreach program that can help or if a specialist will be in the area to take a look first hand and help recommend a plausible plan of treatment.
I already knew that I can be a total ass sometimes, but every now and then the universe pulls me up short and gives me a good shake. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I approach my 50th birthday with an unclear financial future and not having accomplished some of things I set out to do. Then like a giant neon sign in the middle of a Texas prarie the Universe shouts, “Hey asshole, you have a magic life with good health, people who love you and a wine bar you like!” When the message is that clear, a person should listen. So I truly have gained a perspective change and attitude adjustment, but right now Luch is lying in a small cinder block building with no running water, covered in burns waiting for the Universe to help her. I pray it does.