What now feels like a lifetime ago, January to be precise, I met a man in a small community in the high mountains outside of the Sacred Valley of Cusco. His case and life circumstances are complicated. I wrote a blog post about our encounter in February that captures a bit of the detail.
This morning I learned he passed away. His name was Maximiliano and he was a man of great depth. His life was cut short by the ravages of a horrible disease. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is complicated disease made all the more complex through the experience of deep poverty. Sr. Maximiliano had only even known a life of financial poverty.
He and his family lived in a small hut on the side of a beautiful mountain in one of the most breathtaking areas in the world. Yet, he struggled to gain access to basic health care, clean water, steady employment, and a good education for his children. Our team worked hard to get Sr. Maximiliano into care. At some point it became very clear the best thing we could offer him was the support he needed to live whatever length of time he had left with dignity. We realized the greatest benefit we could bring to him was to help him die with dignity.
The COVID-19 pandemic made it very challenging to stay in close contact with Sr. Maximiliano and his family. About a month ago – a colleague and friend from a partner NGO, Andean Community Partners, traveled to the small community and visited with Sr. Maximiliano and his family. He brought them food and spent time sharing stories and laughs. That was the last he saw him.
This pandemic has laid fully bare the great disparities in the world. It has exposed the levels of inequity and inequality that disproportionately burden the lives of people living in the experience of poverty Sr. Maximiliano never finished high school, he didn’t own a fancy car or live in a giant house – he struggled ever day to build a life for his family. He was a porter on the Inca Trail and carried heavy loads for tourists hiking to Machu Picchu. He dreamed of a better life for his children. He dreamed of a better life for himself.
Please join me today in remembering the life of Sr. Maximiliano. Let us not forget the pain and suffering that punctuated so much of his life. Let’s join together and build a better life for his children and future generations. Out of the ashes of this pandemic, lets commit to work together to build a better world for everyone.