Vanessa’s father tried to murder her brother in the middle of the night. Shielding her sibling from his advances, Vanessa was shot in the face. Though she miraculously survived, Vanessa’s face and arm were left permanently disfigured and a source of chronic pain.
At 10 years old, Adrian weighed just 19 pounds. He suffered infections from living in squalor and sleeping in a shed with no floor. Unable to afford a good doctor, Adrian’s medical scars look as though a child took scissors and made jagged stabs up and down his torso.
Stories like theirs, heartbreaking though they are, are commonplace in the orphanages of Venezuela.
Many orphans receive a watered-down glass of milk for both breakfast and lunch, often going without dinner at all. Most children have parents who either have both passed away or chose to abandon them. Left to fend for themselves on the streets until they are admitted to an orphanage, many live on roofs of residential buildings, in camping tents on the sides of highways or in emptied out dumpsters.
Fortunately, partners connected with Send Relief’s Valdosta ministry center are stepping up to send food and medical supplies to one of Venezuela’s most under-supported orphanages. Today, Vanessa is happy and healthy, serving as a cook and mentor at the very orphanage that helped her survive, and Adrian was able to get the medicine needed to heal his infected wounds, prompting him to smile for the first time in months.
So far, the food being sent has been able to feed nearly 10,000 people a month!
The shipments are specifically catered to the children’s needs, so large pallets of Ensure, Pedialite and scarce medical equipment are often included. The center and partners have also been able to purchase land beside the orphanage, so the children have room for outdoor activities, summer school and VBS programs. In fact, the orphanage has been doing so well that the local city government has taken notice and started recognizing their shipments, and other pastors and orphanages have begun contacting them due to their rapidly spreading reputation.
Cindy Parker, leader of the international food and medical ministry, gave some insight into what the teams are witnessing, “Some kids were bawling their eyes out wanting to go to school, but they couldn’t afford it—and this was before the pandemic ever hit. We’ve sent so much medicine for worms and scabies and lice. Some children have had untreated conditions for so long that the lice have actually bored visible holes into their skin. Recently, I hit my knees in prayer for medication donations, just broken-hearted by the stories we were hearing, and I kept on getting phone calls during my prayer time. I silenced them, but it turns out it was people offering to donate! My prayers were answered before they even finished getting out of my mouth!”
“They’re our family,” said Valdosta ministry center director Jay Watkins of the partnership. “There have been 30 families migrate to the United States because of our partnership, too. People in our church have become translators and started ESL classes just to help them acclimate better upon arrival.”
You can be an answer to prayer and help transform an orphan’s life by giving today.
Published March 23, 2021