It was the scariest moment in Juan Carlos' life when he felt the long nimble fibres of the pasture shoots wrap around his hand and drag it into the industrial chopper that would turn them into neatly packed farm feed. He knew the machine intimately, because he's been farming his whole life, and couldn't help but think of the shredding and packing mechanism operating at 1500 rpm as his right arm was being pulled in. In the fraction of a moment in which disaster plays its formidable hand, JC's body reacted instinctively: his left fist hammering the red button that would arrest the metallic beast. The signals of excruciating pain sent by the shredded nerves would reach his brain a moment later, in the instant of silence of the immediate aftermath, disaster had struck.
This was a culminating low point in a very difficult year for Juan. The first round of COVID lock downs prevented him from travelling to his regular job in Ontario as a vineyard worker. His second chance to travel to work, this time to BC, was frustrated by a mugging at knife point that saw away his passport and mobile phone, rendering him unable to travel or communicate at the critical time.
Just like here in Canada, he also has a reputation in Mexico for the quality of his work and the depth of his dedication. This helped him get a meager paying job in his home town of Ayapango, despite a general fear of COVID making work scarce in the region. He needed the work desperately as the cost of every day essentials was shooting through the roof due to the international disruption of supply chains.
The strain of the hard times was having an impact at home too, where his wife of 23 years, Yovanna, cared for the two little ones left in the nest, Cristobal (10) and Jaqueline (15). Little do they understand how fragile their dreams of soccer and medical school have become with this most nefarious turn of events. Thank goodness Johnny (28) and Jimmy (24) had found their independence, both married and making a go of it on their own, but unable to help financially. It is undeniable that the rocky patch in the relationship was adding to the stress that JC was managing while he operated the dangerous heavy farm equipment that is his specialty.
Juan Carlos is the type of guy that is very sought after in the farm world, as his 20+ year record of employment in Canada attests. He is a natural at mechanics, having self-taught everything about maintenance and repair of large farm equipment. He is also an avid observer and fervent lover of the natural world and especially of the cycle of farms. He tends to both plants and the machines that help them grow with unequal devotion and passion. In a fair world, he would not have had to endure the complex network of difficulties and complications that are the lot of farm workers in Mexico; for he paid his dues in Canada, both literally in the form of taxes applied to his paycheck over 20+ years and also figuratively in his adaptation to the Canadian way of life, his unrelenting work ethic and his ability to exceed expectations at every turn.
Instead, he got badly injured taking a job that was dangerous and risky. In Mexico manual labourers like JC do not have healthcare coverage, which means that he had to pay for his surgery, his antibiotics and painkillers, his many recurring checkup appointments and commuting several times a week to Mexico City to get to those appointments. Living basically on a month to month basis the savings were slim and did not go far; the four bulls being raised to sell in the meat market in the fall had to be sold early and the money obtained for them also, did not go far. With no income whatsoever for the exception of the small help that they get from JC's two uncles, his brother and his dad, all of whom have families of their own, things are getting extremely difficult. Physiotherapy has not even started.
He pressed the red button in time to prevent the catastrophe that would have claimed his life, but not in time to prevent his hand from receiving the same treatment as the pasture being turned into cattle feed. What he saw at the end of his right arm when he pulled away was a bloody lump of twisted flesh and bone, the former glory of his most able hand was lost forever and the bloody mess that stood in its place was beyond recognition. In that moment, his livelihood literally crushed and shredded, he could not imagine that there would be any way in which his most trusted assistant, his prime tool, could ever be of use again. In spite of the tragedy he was in luck, the surgeon on duty that gloomy March 23rd was a good one; in the end, after an all-night reconstruction, the hand and three fingers were saved.
The latest visit to the doctors on Thursday April 15, not even a month after the surgery, was a turning point. His last stitches were removed and he has now been referred to a 12 month physiotherapy program that will help him recondition his hand and allow him to finally get back to work. Needless to say his economic situation is in dire straights until then, having no access to either healthcare, nor workers compensation, nor employment insurance, nor disability programs. He is on his own, face to face with his impotence to accomplish some of the most basic tasks of living, never mind the ability to provide for his family.
During the next 12 months Juan has to travel by cab to and from Mexico city from his hometown about 1:15 min away by car, twice a week to attend physiotherapy; this carries a cost of around CA$40 for travel plus $50 for physio, CA$180 per week, totaling $9360 for the twelve months. Antibiotics and painkillers run at CA$50 per week, which adds up to CA$2600 per the year. Groceries at CA$80 per week, CA$4160 per the year. This all makes up the grand total of: CA$16,120.
We would like to raise this sum by October 1st 2021, so that he can focus exclusively on getting better, without the added paralyzing and disheartening stress of financial uncertainty.
Under different circumstances Juan Carlos would have been taken care of in Canada but now must fight his way back to his place in Canadian vineyards that so eagerly have welcomed him over the past two plus decades. We are appealing to your good will to help get through this rough patch.
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