Every day in Cúcuta, Colombia, thousands of Venezuelans wander through the border city, desperate for a way to survive. Some work as street vendors, others look for anything they can do to feed their families. Their faces reflect despair, suffering and pain.
In the last several years, thousands of Venezuelans have poured across the border into Cúcuta, Colombia. They are fleeing the socioeconomic and political crisis in their own country that began under the presidency of Hugo Chávez and intensified under the government of President Nicolás Maduro Moros. Venezuelans are facing hyperinflation, hunger and crime, leading to mass emigration. According to the UN Refugee Agency, more than one million Venezuelans have entered Colombia. Many are sick, homeless and hungry.
Many of the asylum seekers have come to the poorest communities of Cúcuta looking for refuge. “You can’t out-give the poor,” Compassion International President Emeritus Wess Stafford has said.
Sometimes those of us in affluent circumstances think those with few financial resources have little ability to help others. We think of them simply as “the poor,” defining them by their lack of resources. But the opposite is often true. As Compassion staff, we have witnessed again and again across communities and countries how those with little materially are so often the ones reaching out in generosity in times of need.
Ana is a housewife who takes care of her children, including 6-year-old Deybi, who is sponsored through Compassion. Her husband does whatever work he can find to provide for the family, including cleaning a gas station.
Ana met a young Venezuelan family – with a two-year-old son and a baby on the way – who moved near their home. Seeing the family’s desperation, Ana knew she must help – even though her own family lives in deep poverty. Ana provides her new neighbors with food, cooking for them daily on her wood-burning stove that she made herself in her backyard.