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  • My friend Claudia runs a Grassroots - home for the street - children in town. She does this since many years and with little money, but a big heart. Some time ago she started suffering bouts of severe pain, sometimes so bad that she could hardly walk. Finally she went to check it out. She is a single mother of two daughters: one is 7 and the other 15 years old. They fell sick with weird symptoms. Here we always first think that anything is Salmonella or Amoeba. It was not. After months of check - ups Claudia and her youngest daughter were just diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and her older daughter with Lupus, all painful, progressive, incurable autoimmune - diseases. As if that was not enough a few days ago she noticed cracks in the walls of her house. An engineer came to check and said the house could collapse any moment, it is badly built and has to be left NOW!

    My friend Amalia could hardly walk because of severe back pain for many years. The bones of her vertebrae were pressing on the nerves in the spine. She finally was successfully operated on and so happy to walk again. Ten days ago she started with severe pain in her face, then her head, she saw everything double. The dentist checked her, the eye - doctor, the neurologist, those three ate up all her savings in no time! Since Friday she lies in an overcrowded hospital in Tuxtla waiting for an operation on her brains.

    My friend Michele in North Carolina finally went to court to resolve her divorce from an abusive man. He is rich and taking everything from her. She is 67 and was recently diagnosed with beginning Parkinson´s Disease. As her ex is taking the house away from her, she recently moved into an apartment, she liked that, she knows how to make a place beautiful, it felt like a new chapter in her life, she was hopeful. Yesterday she wrote me that the apartment burnt down.....

    Jasmin is a new patient of mine. Her teacher, who is a long - time patient has brought her to me. Jasmin is 18 years old and lives alone with her mother, who is a Zapatista woman. She worked in some NGO helping women in the indigenous communities, but recently lost her job. Jasmin´s father left them soon after her birth. She was born with lack of oxygen and started having convulsions that later disappeared, but reappeared violently as soon as adolescence started. She sometimes suffers 6 epileptical attacks a day. In school - she is finishing High School in the community of Chenalho, an hour from San Cristobal, nobody wants to work, study, play or talk to her, they call her "crazy" and shun her. She is very depressed about this, about her Dad not seeing her ever, about being so utterly alone.

    Sweetness just pours out of her big eyes. I guess everybody must just love her, but as we see this is not so. In between her teacher and I we paid her a visit to the psychiatrist. Two days ago the psychiatrist came to talk to me. He says she is an extreme case, having so many attacks even taking her medicine is a worst - case - scenario. As she spends a lot of time each day alone she forgets to take her pills when her mother is not there to remind her. He already recognizes brain damage and wonders if the sadness and depression also is a sign of a deteriorating brain.....

    These stories, which hit my life more or less at the same time, Frederick, they make me think of Job in the Bible. I - as the agnostic that I consider myself, even though I do pray a bit every night, I must admit - have such a difficult time not with pain in life, but with SO MUCH pain.

    I wished you could console me!

    Art by Kiki

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