Hi my friend,
I will always remember meeting you at a small migrant stop in Pamplona, Colombia. We played with your bear, Sophia, and you showed me the moon and the lights of the surrounding towns in this high mountain center. While the adults were standing nearby with weary, tired eyes, you brought laughter and giggles they all needed to hear.
My friend, you had already walked 45 miles to Pamplona from the Venezuelan border to be able to sleep in this tiny space. As a wondrous child, you have already had to endure more than most people will ever know in their lifetimes. Your family, like many others, will continue to walk to Peru, still over 900 miles away. You will walk over mountains in freezing temperatures along a tiny, unsafe road. You don’t have the proper clothes, shoes or food to carry you on such an extreme journey. There are countless dangerous conditions along the way.
When you passed a fruit stand, did you ask your parents for food? It’s probably hard to understand this now, but it must have broken your parents’ hearts to say “no” to you. The Venezuelan money is no good anymore, and they just can’t afford that mandarin or that strawberry. It’s so very unfair that you and your family are in this situation — to not be able to have a glass of water, a clean bed or a piece of fruit when you need it.
There were 120 Venezuelan migrants sleeping in the center with you and your family that night. Each of the eight distribution centers along the migrant route will see more than 350 people each day. Rise Against Hunger provided the meal you ate as the day came to an end. Because of supporters of Rise Against Hunger, 5,400 Venezuelan migrants in Colombia will eat a hot meal each day, just like the one that filled your belly that night.
I wish you could meet the people who are coming together to help you and your family. People like the supporters of Rise Against Hunger, whose financial gifts help purchase the food you need so desperately. People like Marta and Douglas who opened their homes to give you a place to rest and a place to eat.
My friend, I met so many more like you at each center, and in centers closer to the border. So many Venezuelan children, moms and dads who are facing conditions that defy description. It’s not fair your life is forcing you to be strong, but my friend, I am absolutely amazed by your strength and spirit.
I wish I could know what is next for you. I hope you embrace your Venezuelan heritage and make hallacas in December.
My friend, take care of Sophia and show her the beautiful mountains of Colombia. My heart is with you on your journey.
For countless children fleeing Venezuela with their families, their stories look similar to this one. Millions have already left Venezuela in light of the country’s turmoil and the number is increasing rapidly. To provide aid to those seeking refuge in neighboring countries, Rise Against Hunger is partnering with Rotary E-Club of Houston to serve nine community kitchens and four community shelters that provide needed aid to refugees along the migrant route. The need is great and you can help.