Milagros Chacin: “I couldn't even manage to feed my children anymore”
Milagros Chacin and her family escaped the economic crisis in Venezuela by fleeing to Colombia. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) has given them financial assistance to buy food and pay the rent.
Milagros Chacin and her family escaped the economic crisis in Venezuela by fleeing to Colombia. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) has given them financial assistance to buy food and pay the rent. | © HI
There are up to 4 million refugees from Venezuela now living in Colombia. HI has provided financial aid to more than two hundred families identified as extremely vulnerable.
They include Milagros Chacin, her husband and their four children. Milagros Chacin used to work as a nurse, but price inflation and economic hardship forced her out of Venezuela: “I couldn't even manage to feed my children anymore,” she says. She and her family arrived in Riohacha, 90 kilometres from the border with Venezuela, in July 2019.
"When we arrived in Colombia, we thought everything would be different. We hoped life would be better. We needed money, so we sold our phone, our shoes, even our children's shoes. My husband began scouring the streets for empty bottles to sell for recycling. Our 13-year-old daughter, who used to go with him, fell ill. The Covid-19 epidemic made life even harder. People lost their jobs and homes. The humanitarian canteen, where we used to eat, closed. We only eat once a day now. And we've already changed accommodation several times. It pushes you to the edge of despair,"
explains Milagros Chacin.
"In June 2020, we met with HI’s teams and they provided us with financial assistance. We used it to buy food and we paid our landlord the three months’ rent we owed him. I also bought mattresses so my children don't have to sleep on the floor anymore,"
adds Milagros Chacin.
HI also provided the family with psychological support:
“The phone calls really gave us hope. It's so hard, living like this. Sometimes I felt so desperate I thought about ending it all".
“It is still difficult living in makeshift accommodation made from plastic sheets. The sheet metal roof lets in the rain and the ground gets muddy. It’s a really tough life.”
“My dream is to be self-sufficient one day. Not dependent on anyone else. We want to start our own small business so we can be free again,"
says Milagros Chacin.