Helping Jorge: An Update

It’s been just under six weeks since I published this post, along with an appeal for donations to help me help Jorge, a blind diabetic man who I crossed paths with here in Playa del Carmen. Well, if I didn’t already believe in miracles, I certainly do now, because I consider what we achieved to be exactly that.

I received donations from people I know, didn’t know, or know but had no idea read my blog. I received $100 from a friend in Australia who I first met when I was 20, propping up the bar he worked at in my favourite night club. He is a husband and a father now, saw my post on facebook and dropped $100 on a man on the other side of the world he doesn’t know.

I also received a generous donation from a friend I had a falling out with, re-uniting us and repairing our friendship.

I’ve learned that by sending love in one direction, I am open to receiving it from another.

With every donation that rolled in, I said a prayer of thanks and prepared myself for the responsibility bestowed upon me by you all. Alison tried to explain a little bit to Jorge about what was happening, but all she could really get across to him was that “many, many people want to help you.” He doesn’t have much of a concept of the internet, doesn’t know what a blog is, and we didn’t even bother trying to explain twitter, even though he was kinda famous in the twitter-sphere for a few days!

Every time one of you shared the post and encouraged people to donate or sent me messages of support, my heart swelled with love and pride for being part of such a generous local and global community.

So thank you. Really.

As of today, we have raised US$1950 for Jorge, plus a fridge which was donated by a very generous friend of mine here in Playa!!!

So far, we have been able to buy Jorge a new fan, a new radio/CD player with USB drive for listening to audiobooks and a professional full-body massage, which he had never had before. We paid his rent for the month (which is due again tomorrow), and paid for all his food, drink and other expenses, like putting mosquito-mesh on his windows so he can leave them open at night. We have delivered groceries and meals to him as well as taking him out to some local spots around town.

The fan – our first purchace…

The entertainment center… (he had a few beat-up stereos, one with a working radio, and the other with a working CD player, so we decided to consolidate!).

We even went on a holiday together (this was mostly free, thanks to our generous friend Lisa – we simply supplied some food).

Jorge taking a nap in Akumal…

He has also been able to get some much needed dental work done, which although costly (about $500, total), is something he very much needed and would simply not be able to do without your help. I am still confident that we will be able to continue paying his rent for at least a year as well as meeting all the other expenses. When we take off in February, I will transfer the remaining money into a local bank account for him, which Alison will be able to withdraw for him as he needs it.

We have spent a total of US$738 which includes half of the dentist bill. It is a lot, and the number is higher than I anticipated, but expenses should be lower from here on out. It leaves us with $1212 to pay the rest of the dentist bill and still enough for a years’ worth of rent.

So far, I have been fumbling my way through, relying on Alison (who speaks Spanish) for guidance on how best to care for Jorge. His new living arrangements are good. He has a small room with an attached bathroom owned by a tiny Mayan lady in the Colosio neighbourhood not far from my house. It is very, very basic, but sufficient for him, and the best part is the friendly shop owner, Manuel, just a few doors down.

Manuel has a diabetic wife who he cares for when he is not running his shop, and administers Jorge’s insulin, which is an enormous help. Jorge knows the route from his house to Manuel’s shop one block away, and we often find him down there when he is not in his room. Whenever I have been there to deliver food to Jorge, Manuel sets him up at the counter with a stool so he can eat. Manuel has also been the one taking him for his dentist appointments.

I mentioned in my last post that Jorge enjoyed going for walks, and I have taken him on a few walks since. On Sunday we traipsed down to the local flea market to see if we could pick up some sports shoes for him, as he only has one pair of flip flops. Unfortunatly we didn’t have any luck finding a suitable pair, but they are on the list of things Jorge needs to make his life better, and I will ensure he gets them.

The other day, Tyrhone and I were in a shopping center, and I attempted to walk with my eyes closed and my hand on his shoulder, as Jorge does with Alison and I. I didn’t last more than a couple of meters before feeling like I was going to walk into something. The fact that Jorge trusts us to lead him in the right direction, across busy roads and along uneven pathways, is truly amazing. The way he has adapted to his loss of sight with no formal assistance is something to behold.

When letting himself in the crumbling, wooden gate at the entrance of his house, he knows exactly when to duck his head under the low roof beams jutting out from the adjacent building. He negotiates his way down the dirt path to his front door as well as any seeing person. He locates the door to his room with a tap of his walking stick, before feeling for the lock to insert his key into.

The entrance to Jorge’s home, his room is down on the right…

His room is well organised for easy access to his few possessions. Clothes, towels and other necessities are hung neatly on hooks on the wall, so he can locate them easily by feel. The radio is his life-line to knowing the time, keeping up with the news and of course the baseball. He has learned to operate the system we bought him, including the USB drive which contains hours of Spanish audiobooks. He recently completed 17 hours of  ‘Don Quixote’, and has since moved on to some of the other titles I downloaded.

Alison is still caring for him, taking him for his doctors and hospital appointments, and they are becoming firm friends. Whilst my Spanish has certainly improved while spending time with Jorge, my communication is still very limited, so the fact that he and Alison can converse freely is a blessing.

Alison and Jorge, chatting in Akumal…

I think the biggest challenge for me is to remain positive and confident that Jorge will continue to receive support and care after I leave to go traveling in February. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that people are kind and generous, and so I needn’t worry about the future, but simply do what I can while I can, and trust that the rest will be taken of.

I have assured Jorge that I will be coming back to see him after our travels. Alison said he had to get out his tissues when she told him I am leaving in February, which completely broke my heart. But I know he will be taken care of. Alison is the most generous person I know, and until I leave I am grateful for the time I get to spend with them and so, so thankful to you all for supporting me in this experience.

And now, I’m off to take him some soup!


I’ll be posting more updates about Jorge and this journey I’ve found myself on on Facebook, so stop by and ‘like’ the page if you would like to stay in the loop! I will also be updating the Help Jorge page with the total monies received, as well as thank you’s to each and every one of you.

I understand everyone can’t donate, so sharing this post or the original story about Jorge is another way you can help!

P.S donations are still open!


Helping Jorge: An Update — 9 Comments

  1. Sarah, you just continue to be such an inspiration both on and off the page. Clearly one of the secrets to your beautiful writing is simply that you let your inner beauty shine through!

    Jorge is lucky to have you in his life, but I know you too are better for having met him as well. And we as readers and citizens of the world are improved also! 😀
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..The Secret to Happiness: Savor the Small StuffMy Profile

  2. Sarah, I have some expertise in diabetes management. I wonder if you realize how important good dental care is to controlling diabetes. First, it is hard for people to eat appropriate foods when their teeth are bad. For example, raw foods, like some fruits and vegetables, are avoided by people with dental pain. In addition, any infection, including dental infections, tend to cause blood sugar levels to run higher – as much as 100-200 points higher than desired!

    You have shown the world that one person can make a difference! What a wonderful world this is