A troubled father who deserves the compassion of a city

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Todd Galganov, Jesse´s father for the first time. A person whom I should never have met in my life, if it wasn’t for the terrible situation his now 23-year-old son has found himself in. It´s true, I had met Todd before; briefly, however, we never got to know each other. During a lunch he organised with some other members of the local press, Todd informed us that he had new ideas to finally reveal the last whereabouts of his son. The graphic designer* from Montreal told us that next month there will be a march in Caraz and all attendees will wear special printed t-shirts with Jesse´s picture on it. Additionally, Todd asked us for our help to get the message out, in the press and on local T.V. and radio stations. He would also try to meet Canada´s current PM and the president of the United States or any American representative of the American government. Both seem to have confirmed their seats during the eighth edition of the Summit of the Americas, held later this week in Lima, Peru. During our meeting, Todd told us that some people back in Canada are worried about him, but that he always tells them to not worry and that he´s doing fine.

I am sure Todd doesn’t care about what people in Huaraz think of him, nor does he care about the clothes he´s wearing or getting a haircut. He´s totally right, he shouldn´t. I am well aware that Todd is in Huaraz with only one mission; finding his son Jesse. And when he does, he will get the hell out of here and no one can blame him for that either. Nonetheless, despite Todd repeatedly stating he´s O.K. to relatives, friends and concerned followers, on this opportunity I would like to share a couple of details and observations during the chats we had. I hope he won´t mind. When I met Todd, I was in good conscience and a bit surprised at what a positive man he actually is. Many others in the same circumstances would have buckled, but Todd is strong, even when 6790km away from home. ¨Luckily there is Netflix and my hotel has a hot shower and a big plastic cow standing at the entrance¨.  It might be Todd´s sense of humor that keeps him going and on the right track.

Todd barely speaks any Spanish, and this makes it sometimes very difficult. Especially, for example, when you´re talking to someone who´ll you need to convince. On the other hand, it also has an advantage. Todd tells the local people in English what he thinks (whilst smiling) and these people think he´s a nice guy. Even when he´s telling them that they´re actually a bunch of lunatics he manages to get away with it. It keeps him strong and humor is very much needed, so he told me. I agree.

Without a doubt, Todd is a character, and when I see him wondering through the terrible city of Huaraz with his posters, you can only feel compassion. I was being interviewed last week for a local T.V. programme and touched upon the topic of Jesse Galganov. I still believe it´s incredible that he hasn’t been found yet. Maybe, most striking, is that I have the impression that some people just don’t care – he’s not ´their´ son. During the aforementioned interview I stated that Todd is a big guy and can´t be missed when you see him walking through the town. I was wondering how many locals have stepped towards Todd to give him a little pat on the back. The pat on the back won´t help him find Jesse, however, it´s a form of affectionate for letting the man know you´re with him. From time to time, that´s all he needs.

Last Monday I was informed about the possible findings of what´s left of Santa Lirio Cerna. She is just one of the many people in the Callejón de Huaylas who have gone missing during the past five years. Apparently, the former president of the Agrarian Federation of the Ancash Department (FADA) was informed about some bone remains they found in the Caraz area. Surprisingly, this is the same person Todd and I visited on Thursday. Prior to our visit, I had been informed about a peasant and community member´s meeting in the Santa Cruz Valley area and thought that we should pay the man a visit. The former FADA president informed us that in the Andes very old traditions are still practiced, and some of them might help us finding Jesse. We were informed that the local villagers here don’t believe in politics, church, law, nor in the police (they have their own form of justice) and would the police knock on their doors they wouldn’t even open it. These villagers believe in pachamama (Mother Earth) and the ´wise´ words of the community leader. Also, they explained to us, one of these old traditions might lead to Jesse´s finding. Ostensibly, when someone is lost, the use of coca leaves in combination with typical Andean cigarettes without filter during some kind of a ceremony has worked in the past. The ex-FADA president assured us that thanks to this old tradition, they have been able to locate over 90% of the people missing in rural areas. I saw Todd shrugging his shoulders when I translated this into English. When you know that the local police were incapable, and you’ve waited 180 full days for no satisfying results, would you bet your money on shamanism?

It´s overwhelming to see the vast number of positive feedback Todd gets every day from people all around the world on social media. It´s much needed, and I am sure it gives him strength. I have witnessed with my own eyes how he in the blink of an eye was doing business on the phone with someone in Canada, how he suffered crossing the streets in Huaraz, and how some emails sent by the Isreali search company Magnus International gave him watery eyes. Seconds after that he made a stupid joke and then asked me with a very serious tone: ¨Do you think we should visit the local prison? Could my son be locked up somehow without us knowing? Let´s go for a coffee

There´s never a dull moment with Todd and in a flash, he reminded me of Officer Crabtree of the British BBC sitcom Allo Allo. Though appearance-wise there is no match at all, Todd´s talking in Spanish does the trick even though at this moment I can´t recall the actual phrase that reminded me of this great show. I did laugh though, and Todd looked towards me, probably thinking something but without saying a word. Luckily he doesn’t take these moments too seriously, because after all, he has a nerve-racking question to answer. And the answer to this question will end the nightmare that started at the end of September last year. It´s terrible that despite the many efforts, Todd is the protagonist of a horror story that hasn’t yet come to an end. Life in Huaraz ain´t easy in general, but fortunately he´s staying at a great hotel where they speak English, and every now and then, Todd´s having lunch with people he can trust. I am aware that there are folks back home who very much care for Todd and a simple answer such as ´I am fine´ doesn’t tell the whole story. Although taking the many difficulties and obstacles into account, Todd is doing an outstanding job in Huaraz, and yes, I believe he is indeed fine.

Rex Broekman
Editor The Huaraz Telegraph

Picture: FB Todd Galganov

*After reading the article, Todd Galganov informed us that he liked it and read it with a smile. He also said not to be a grafic designer but the owner and executive operator of an advertising national sign company.

2 Responses to “A troubled father who deserves the compassion of a city” Subscribe

  1. Sandra Currie April 10, 2018 at 09:48 #

    God Bless and prayer’s are with you.

  2. Mary April 12, 2018 at 09:48 #

    Thank you Mr. Rex Broekman for this personal post. Made me cry. From this Montrealer…thank you for being there for Todd and keeping Jesse in your headlines.

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