COCONUT CREEK, Fla.(Sept. 29, 2020) – More than 8,000 Venezuelan migrant families in Colombia, devastated by a global pandemic, are receiving food and essential personal hygiene items, thanks to a grant to Food For The Poor from the Simón Bolívar Foundation.
The aid is coming at a critical time as those migrant families face the tough decision whether to stay in Colombia, where jobs have disappeared because of the COVID-19 pandemic, or make the arduous journey back to Venezuela, often on foot.
To date, FFTP partner Minuto de Dios has delivered 3,635 packages to families in Bogota and 3,180 to Cucuta. More distributions are planned over the next month.
“The impact of the pandemic and unemployment has pushed thousands and thousands into food lines to beg for help,” said Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine. “We’re honored to be chosen to receive this grant from the Simón Bolívar Foundation and pledge to continue doing everything we can, with the help of our donors and partners, to help these families through this crisis.”
Colombia has the world’s fifth highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
From July 27 to September 29, the total number of confirmed cases more than tripled from 248,956 to 818,203, according to worldometers.info, a website that tracks coronavirus around the world.
Colombia recently lifted its monthlong lockdown and allowed businesses and restaurants to reopen, according to news reports.
But a humanitarian crisis has been brewing for the past six months on the Venezuela-Colombia border, where communities are strained by the influx of tens of thousands of Venezuelan returnees, leading to chronic shortages of medical attention and food.
Venezuelan migrants depend on the informal market, such as selling food on the streets or cleaning homes, to generate their income. Without a consistent flow of income, these vulnerable families cannot purchase the basic food and health essentials.
“Thanks to your help, we’ve been able to help thousands of families in this region of the country,” said Giovani Bolaños, Coordinator for the Cucuta and Bucaramanga Integral Development Center of Minuto de Dios.
“With the recent delivery of 1,200 relief packages, we were able to experience the gratitude of hundreds of people who haven’t had any household income,” he added. “They did not count on the possibility to have food for their families.”
Food For The Poor was among three international nonprofit organizations that received grants from the Simón Bolívar Foundation, the charitable, private foundation of CITGO Petroleum Corp., as part of its Medium/Large Grants Program for Humanitarian Health.
According to the foundation, the grants are part of its new focus of providing funding to assist Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, building capacity, transferring knowledge and empowering nongovernmental organizations to help vulnerable individuals, especially those that focus on mothers and children in and from Venezuela.
“This relief package helps my family a lot. We are a family of four,” said Andrea Hernandez, a Venezuelan migrant in Bogota.
“I’d like to give thanks to Minuto de Dios and Food For The Poor for this big help during this pandemic,” said Yessica Lorena Diaz, a Venezuelan migrant in Cucuta. “For some people, this may not be a lot. But for someone else, during these suffering times, it’s a big help.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.