Oriana’s mother doesn’t want her to come home.

It may not sound like something a loving mother would want, but telling her daughter to stay away may be the most loving thing this mother could do.

Years ago, Oriana fled Venezuela with her husband and their young daughter, Lucia, who is now six years old with dark curls and serious eyes. 

The violence, unemployment, hunger, and poverty they escaped haven’t gone away. If anything, they’ve gotten worse.

The Venezuelan humanitarian crisis hasn’t always made the same headlines as other crises. If you’re not familiar with it, here are some things you should know:

  • According to The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 6 million people have now fled the country as refugees and migrants since 2014, making it the second-largest external displacement crisis in the world.
  • Venezuelans are fleeing after experiencing years of increasing economic and political instability, human rights violations, violence, and food shortages within their country, as well as limited education and work opportunities made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The country’s healthcare system has also collapsed. There is now a dangerous shortage of medicine and care in the country, and once-eradicated diseases like measles, malaria, and diphtheria are once again spreading. 
  • Those who have fled include families with small children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, elderly, and other vulnerable groups. All who have fled are at risk of hunger, health concerns, as well as exploitation and trafficking.
  • Thanks to your support, ADRA is serving those who have fled Venezuela in Colombia, Brazil, and other locations with urgent medical support and other essential services.

The last time we talked to Oriana, she was on the road back to Venezuela, back to the home she left hoping to create a better future for little Lucia.

The future she dreamed of was one free from violence, with enough food for Lucia to grow up healthy, and an education so she could pursue her wildest dreams.

But that’s not what they found.

Walking hundreds of miles across Colombia, the family found themselves hungry, sleeping under tarps on city streets with their little girl, and vulnerable to predators like those who stole Oriana’s phone and the last of the family’s food. 

Just like Oriana’s mother wants a better life for her, Oriana only wants what’s best for Lucia who doesn’t always understand what’s going on in their nomadic life.

“Sometimes Lucia thinks this is all a big game,” Oriana says. “But most of the time she is afraid and crying for home.”

And so, the family are again walking hundreds of miles across Colombia, this time on the road that will lead them home. 

Oriana’s mother is planning to meet them in one of the towns on Venezuela’s borders. While she wishes her daughter would stay away from Venezuela, she wants to be there for her and they will walk together in search of what’s next.

Stories of those who have been displaced due to crisis or conflict rarely have a clean before and after. They don’t just flee a bad situation then live happily ever after. 

More often than not, the experiences of refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are more like Oriana’s story. 

Those who find welcome and opportunities in a new community still carry trauma with them as they rebuild their lives. That trauma is multiplied for those like Oriana whose journey never seems to end and whose needs for food, shelter, safety, medical attention, and other basic necessities go unmet.

This is why it’s critical that ADRA meets people where they are, even if that means taking our work on the road. That’s exactly what we do in Colombia and other locations where we serve those like Oriana and her family who have fled Venezuela.

Thanks to our supporters and partners, we are able to provide vital healthcare through clinics along routes commonly used by those who have been displaced. This includes mobile medical vans that bring medical providers to those who need them.

We are also providing innovative vouchers that allow people to shop for food and other critical essentials. Some families need diapers and milk, some women need menstrual supplies, others need soap and other hygiene items, so these vouchers allow people to choose for themselves exactly what they need.

Your support continues to make solutions like these possible for people like Oriana and others around the world!

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About ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended.

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