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Venezuela children

Venezuela's children dream only of their next meal

By Andrew Horton | 28 Jun 2018

When the teachers in Caracas asked the children to draw what they dreamed of, the results were surprising. ‘They would draw food, because they don’t have money for food,’ Ana* says as she recalls her experience of visiting Venezuela.

‘Even those who can still go to school can’t grasp what they’re learning, because of hunger.

‘I was crying a lot.’

Ana, who works for Tearfund in Latin America, has just returned from Venezuela to learn about the refugee crisis, and how Tearfund and our partners are helping those who’ve fled to neighbouring Colombia and Brazil.

The exodus is expected to increase with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro being re-elected for another six-year term. The election (20 May) was marred by a boycott from the opposition and claims of vote-rigging. 

According to Ana, ’There is no real democracy. There is a deep economic crisis. There is not enough food or medicines – the hospitals are lacking. There is food to buy, but people don’t have the money to buy it – if you earn $1 a month, how can you pay $5 for cooking oil?’

A rapidly changing crisis
Ongoing political and socio-economic developments have led to as many as 1.5 million Venezuelans fleeing the country in the past 18 months. This includes 35,000 people crossing the border into Colombia on a daily basis to stock up on food and other basics. Others have fled to Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Brazil.

Annual inflation could reach upwards of 300,000 per cent by the end of the year. The majority of the population do not have access to essential medicines and over 8 million Venezuelans don’t have enough food.


Venezuela children eating

The exodus has placed public services in neighbouring countries under strain, especially in the health sector. 

Border areas in Colombia are providing emergency healthcare, providing emergency food to children, and vaccinations for Venezuelans. One clinic in Cúcuta reported they are vaccinating up to 300 Venezuelan babies weekly because vaccinations have run out in Venezuela.

Meeting needs
Between February and May 2018, Tearfund partner CORSOC provided 228 Venezuelan refugee families in Barranquilla, Colombia, with food vouchers, and trained 100 families in how to generate an income. 

Ana says her dream is that Tearfund can work in Venezuela, particularly to help the children. 

‘Parents are leaving the country to try and earn money to buy food. Why? Because there are no jobs, and people are desperate to help their children.

‘Some children were left behind in Venezuela, when their parents moved. We would love to be able to help them. They are now living with grandparents for example, aunts or neighbours. Some are even living on the streets.’

The local church, a national hope
Ana visited several local churches in Venezuela. She says, ‘I loved hearing about projects to care for these children, for example giving them a meal every day.’

Even so, it’s proving to be an uphill struggle for these Christian communities.

‘One pastor told me, “a year ago, we had 200 people at this church. But in the last three months alone, 80 people have moved to other countries.” It means there are fewer people in the church, and less money and fewer resources.

‘It’s hard for churches to keep going, but even so, they are doing what they can.’

‘One of my prayers is that the political situation will change. Maybe the rest of the world will see what is happening in Venezuela, and take action.

‘My prayer for the church is that it can stand up in this situation, and understand that God needs it to act at this moment. I pray that the church can be the hand of God at this time.’

Please join with Ana and her team as they pray for the people of Venezuela, particularly the children.

PRAYER FOCUS:

• Pray for the children who are hungry and are dreaming only of food. Pray for their provision and health.

• Ask God to be with the church and its leaders at this uncertain time, that their faith will be strengthened by the hope of Jesus.

• Ask for God to open the doors for Tearfund to be able to work in Venezuela so they can help to address the needs of the people.

*name changed for security reasons

Written by

Written by Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.

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