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Zuleima’s story: the church that changed everything

Leaving behind everything you know isn’t a decision anyone takes lightly. For Zuleima, it came when she could no longer see a future for her children.

Zuleima is a 35-year-old mother of three from Venezuela. It is a country struggling beneath the weight of a massive economic crisis. Zuleima would have to queue for up to two days to get into a supermarket – only to find that there was no food left when she got in.

Zuleima shares: ‘I said to myself: “This is not what I want for my children. This is not what I want for myself, for my family.”’

Along with more than a million other Venezuelans, Zuleima made the decision to flee to neighbouring Colombia. ‘[I was] leaving my house, my home, my memories,’ Zuleima says, ‘It was very difficult to leave it all behind.’

A smiling woman at a beach with her two children children

Image Credit: Linda Esperanza Aragon/Tearfund

Faith and hope restored

At first, life wasn’t any easier for Zuleima and her family. Job opportunities for refugees were few and far between. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and things went from bad to worse.

Shops and businesses closed. The little chance for income disappeared. The refugee population faced a humanitarian crisis, with no way to meet even their most basic needs.

The church changed everything.

‘The church opened their doors, and they helped me,’ says Zuleima. ‘Not only giving me food and a place to live, but also taking care of my emotions, giving me words of hope, giving me words of faith.’

A woman using a wood cutting table saw

Image Credit: Linda Esperanza Aragon/Tearfund

As well as providing support for refugees’ immediate needs, Tearfund’s local church partners have been setting up support groups that help people like Zuleima find new income opportunities. They have also been campaigning for greater rights for Venezuelans.

Zuleima joined a group called Faith and Action. Through it she has started a business, making items out of driftwood, and was able to take out a loan to purchase a table saw. 

‘I will take a portion of that income in order to save money and buy my own house,’ Zuleima shares. ‘I am very happy because this has been the answer to my prayers... The church has helped me to restore my faith and my hope.’

Tearfund’s church partners can only help people like Zuleima because of the support of people like you. Zuleima’s story is inspiring, but the need is growing every day. Your Big Quiz Night will make a crucial difference.

A gift of £24 could provide two women like Zuliema with the training and tools they need to provide a better future for their families.

Sharing Zuleima’s story at your Big Quiz Night will be a powerful way to encourage your quizzers to give. We’ve got a ready-made video here that you can play halfway through your quiz.


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