Stories of Change

Flor and Miguel. Photo courtesy Lutheran World Federation.

A boost for a family figuring out their next steps

She was a lawyer. He was a decorator at an event venue. Now, their country is in crisis and they’re living in an informal settlement across the border, trying to figure out their next steps.

This is their story.

Flor and Miguel had successful careers in Lara State, Venezuela. As political unrest intensified, both husband and wife saw their hours scaled back and their salaries drop. Both are natural entrepreneurs, so they came up with alternatives to supplement their shrinking paychecks. They started a garden, which supplied them with all the food they needed for a few months without adding any extra costs. This idea was so successful that they shared it with their friends and neighbors – gardens like theirs started popping up all over the neighborhood as people converted their patios to help mitigate some of the effects of the crisis. Flor and Miguel also made and sold donuts to generate some income.

As the crisis deepened, access to even the most basic supplies and ingredients became limited. After more than two years of struggling to support his family, Miguel was the first to leave to try to find work elsewhere. In early-mid 2018, Flor left, too. She joined Miguel in an informal settlement in Saravena, Colombia, across the border from Venezuela. Now seven months pregnant, Flor focuses on caring for her family and making and selling a pastry called torrejas for some income.

Flor and Miguel heard about a CWS-supported program in La Union that helps families like theirs, so Flor attended a meeting for more information. She liked what she heard, and expressed an interest to join the program and learn more about building a business. Her family received food and hygiene vouchers that they could use in local stores to meet their basic needs. They also received a livelihoods voucher, which they could use to purchase supplies that would help start or expand a business. They used it to buy cooking tools that improve production of the torrejas.

“The project became a source of motivation,” Flor says. “For us and many others, we had the desire and the will, but we were missing a boost and you gave us the techniques, tools, support and motivation. Today, I feel strengthened and motivated by the project.”

Sadly, Flor and Miguel fall into a growing class of people worldwide: smart, talented people who are willing to work hard for their families but who are facing dark times because of circumstances beyond their control. We are proud to partner with families, including theirs, to help give them a boost.

The Humanitarian Assistance to Venezuelan Migrants to Saravena, Colombia program was implemented by Lutheran World Federation in 2018. It was supported through CWS by partners: United Methodist Committee on Relief, Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Church of Christ and Week of Compassion.