Venezuela Refugees Face Starvation on the Trek to Peru

By Send Relief Staff

Like most young adults, José had hoped to find a job in his chosen career path.

After graduating with a degree in administration, however, José quickly realized that he couldn’t sustain a livelihood in his country of origin. He had to work for a month in Venezuela just to buy one product at the grocery store, like a bag of rice or a single can of beans.

This is the case for many young people in Venezuela whose dreams have evaporated. Many are just trying to make enough of their devalued currency to survive.

Eventually, José had to make the difficult decision to leave his home and, along with a long-time friend, he joined a group of seven migrants to make the arduous trek through three dangerous countries to Peru. Nights on the trail were extremely cold, while days were scorching. The small group decided to stay together for protection and carried as many provisions as possible to fend off hunger pains.

José was the one chosen to stay awake most nights to watch over the group as they slept in the streets, watching the shadows for violent gangs and thieves. They were robbed a few times, less than most migrants on this journey. Crossing three different borders and finding food was challenging.

Most crossings were maneuvered in a small boat or on foot, balancing on a plank over a river. After their provisions were depleted, the group was forced to beg. The pandemic has caused many safe homes to shut down along the route as well.

Once they finally arrived in Peru, the group slept on beaches and fished during the day for food.

With so many refugees flooding into larger cities like Lima, there’s not much day-labor work available. On several occasions, José has worked all day just to find that the bosses refuse to pay him. He shared that he regularly feels taken advantage of by men who know there will be no legal recourse for a refugee. Even the fact that he is male puts him at a disadvantage to beg in the streets, as most passerby’s prefer to give to women and children if they have spare change.

José never imagined his life unfolding this way.

On his shelf in his one-room space, however, he still has portions of food procured by Send Relief and distributed through our IMB partners. This food has been his saving grace when he has worked a full day only to be sent off with no pay.

Rose is a 25-year-old woman with two daughters, ages 4 and 6. The girls’ father left the family in Venezuela to search for better job opportunities in Peru when he realized he could not financially provide for them. After three years of hard work, he was able to set up a one-room home for his family.

Rose left Venezuela to join Luis two years ago when the girls were two and four. Because tickets were $500, Luis was only able to send enough money for her to buy one seat on the bus, which meant that both girls had to sit on her lap the entire five-day journey. Rose had to take a bus to the border between Venezuela and Colombia and walk across the Simon Bolivar Bridge, carrying everything she needed for the trip. Once in Colombia, she boarded another bus that would take her all the way to the Ecuador border, where she was granted passage as long as she exited the country within 24 hours.

After haggling two more bus rides across the country, Rose and her daughters arrived in Lima, Peru, where they joyfully reunited with Luis. During the pandemic, the family has been close to living on the streets several times. When the country closed, both parents lost their jobs and had no means of making money. Through a Send Relief-funded food bag, they were able to continue feeding their family and helped many families in the building where they lived survive.

Pray for Rose and Luis to find consistent work and raise their family in a home filled with the hope that Christ offers. Additionally, pray for José to come to faith in God, our Provider. Because of the funding provided by Send Relief for food baskets, a missionary was able to share the story of Joseph (José) during the time of famine in Egypt. Pray for this young man to have a job that provides his daily needs and the lasting provision of life in Christ.

Published July 28, 2021

Send Relief Staff