A mother's difficult decision to leave Venezuela for the health of her children

Friday, February 16, 2024
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Marisol's story is a testimony to the strength of a mother's love and unwavering determination to find a better life for her family. 


"You never imagine that your life and your family's life could change so much in the blink of an eye. One day, you are calm at home with a stable job, and the next, you are in another country without knowing anyone, looking for how to survive and provide for your children the minimum to be well," shares Marisol, her voice echoing the experiences of thousands of Venezuelan families facing similar situations in Colombia.


The food crisis in Venezuela


Venezuela's socioeconomic situation is challenging, exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain disruptions, climate change and food price increases. This has left many families unable to meet their food and essential non-food needs. Access to food remains the main barrier to food security and one of the main concerns for families throughout the country. 


At 44, Marisol is the mother of two children, Carlos*, nine, and Kelvis*, three years old. Her decision to leave her country was prompted by the health crisis affecting her children in Venezuela. Despite working as a public accountant at a pharmaceutical company, Marisol was faced with the harsh reality that her youngest son was clinically malnourished at only four months old.  


"I resigned [from my job] because of the country's situation, and my youngest son was diagnosed with malnutrition. That made me leave the few things I had," Marisol recounts, highlighting the difficult choices she had to make. 


A new beginning in Colombia: seeking asylum and building a livelihood


Arriving in Bucaramanga, Colombia, at the end of 2019, Marisol sought humanitarian asylum to access crucial health services for her children. She was driven by her determination to provide for her family and explored various economic opportunities. From caring for other parents' children to selling homemade quesillo desserts, Marisol ventured into virtual courses in digital marketing, photography, tailoring and dressmaking. 


"All these studies I have done for my greatest motivation, my children and my family. For them, I get up every day, thinking that every day will be better," Marisol expresses, showcasing her resilience and belief in a brighter future.


Empowered by education and support


Through courses, training, and the support of Colombian public institutions and NGOs, Marisol has transformed her skills into a thriving business. Today, she bakes delicious cakes and pastries, sells red wine, and crafts chocolates, providing a source of income for her family. 


Expressing gratitude for the assistance received during tough times, Marisol highlights the role of organizations like SOS Children’s Villages Colombia.  


"I thank SOS Children’s Villages because they helped us during such a difficult time due to food shortages and provided psychosocial care to me and my children. It is a great joy to know that there’s an organization that empowers us through accompaniment, where I feel strengthened and welcomed," she acknowledges.


A lifeline in tough times


Marisol's journey spans more than four years since that fateful decision to leave her country of origin. It's a journey marked by hardships but also by the help and support they've received from various individuals, public institutions, and organizations like SOS Children’s Villages Colombia. 


As Marisol aptly puts it, "I send you a big hug, and what you do is very useful to lift our families out of the worst crises or difficult moments we could go through."


In Colombia, SOS Children’s Villages provides a crucial humanitarian response to the refugee and migrant population from Venezuela, reaching approximately 71,000 people between 2020 and 2022. Marisol's story is a testament to the impact of such initiatives, offering hope and inspiration in the face of adversity. 


*Names changed to protect privacy.  

Canadians wishing to help vulnerable children are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor an SOS Village or make a one-time donation. Your support will change the lives of orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Please help today.