Meet Darimar: ‘My name is Darimar Josefina Alvarez Gómez. I am 40 years old. I have eight children and I come from Venezuela. I live in Barranquilla… and I thank the Lord our food has arrived!’
Every parent longs to see their children healthy, strong and on track to a bright future with the chance to achieve their God-given potential. For Darimar, there have been times when these things seemed almost impossible.
‘My life in Venezuela was horrible,’ she says. ‘We ate very little – only once a day… My children were getting too malnourished and one of my daughters was about to die because we didn’t have enough food. We had no money to buy the medicines and that forced me to come to Barranquilla.’
When home is where the hurt is
The current socio-economic crisis in Venezuela has resulted in power cuts, extreme inflation rates, and a shortage of many essential items – including food and medicine. So far, the situation has forced around 5 million Venezuelans to leave their homes and make long journeys to other South American countries in the desperate hope of being able to find work and food.
Barranquilla, in neighbouring Colombia, currently hosts around 15,000 Venezuelan families like Darimar’s. At first when they arrived they were managing to earn some money to buy food. Two of Darimar’s young children were also benefiting from meals provided by one of Tearfund’s local partners. Darimar was so happy to see her children starting to gain weight.
Then the pandemic hit and lockdowns made things more difficult again.
With people unable to go out to find work, Tearfund’s partner changed its strategy and began delivering food baskets to families like Darimar’s instead.
‘Thank God,’ says Darimar. ‘We no longer have the worry that we lack food… [Now] whenever my children ask me for something, I can give it to them. This food basket is a great blessing. My children are very healthy… They were very skinny when we got here, but thanks to the food we’ve received my children are now a normal weight.’
Darimar goes on to tell us that when the food basket arrives ‘it is a joy for my children. They open it and tell me "Mom, look we got cookies and there’s cereal!" They go crazy with happiness because back in Venezuela it was very rare for them to eat something good... We never imagined that we would receive this help.’
Hope and a future
Darimar dreams of having a house and a job in the future – to be able to earn her money, feed her children without aid, and not worry about being made homeless because she can’t afford the rent (as has already happened twice). For now though, she is grateful for the assistance. ‘If we weren't receiving this food basket we would be on the street asking for money and we would eat only once a day,’ she explains. ‘Thank the Lord and you for the help that you give us.’