“I was forced to leave my country in search of a better future for my children,” Jennifer says.
Jennifer is among the two million Venezuelans who have fled to Colombia in recent years to escape violence and economic insecurity. The economic collapse has left families struggling for work, food, medicine, and basic services.
Concern for her two children, Tamara, 12 years old, and little Anthony, 4, persuaded Jennifer to abandon their home in Venezuela.
“I worked to provide for my children but food was too expensive. Life became impossible.”
“In the end we couldn’t even afford to buy medicine when Anthony got sick. I had to take my son to the hospital but they wouldn’t let us in due to overcrowding. I knew then we had to leave for Colombia.”
A challenging start to life in Colombia
Like most Venezuelan families, Jennifer faced huge challenges when she arrived in Colombia. She struggled to find employment, secure social protection and access basic services.
“Things have not been easy, we have been through a lot,” Jennifer says wiping away tears. “When we arrived we shared a room with another Venezuelan family but they were taking drugs. It was not a safe environment for the children so we had to move,” she continues.
Fortunately, Jennifer and her family met a generous local woman, Mrs Ruby, who offered to take them in. Jennifer works in Mrs Ruby’s fish shop during the week to help cover her bills and provide for the family. Mrs Ruby also introduced Jennifer and her family to GOAL.
Building a brighter future
With funding from USAID GOAL’s team in Colombia are now supporting Jennifer and her family. Helping them to build a new life and a brighter future.
Jennifer has joined thousands of Venezuelans taking part in GOAL’s Barrio Resiliente (Resilient Neighbourhoods) project, in partnership with Tierra de Hombres. As part of the programme Jennifer is undergoing skills training to help her find sustainable employment in Colombia.
Jennifer still hopes to return to her home in Venezuela one day, “My family is still there. I would like to go home but the economic situation is too difficult. I can’t take my children back in case they get sick again.”
“I used to have a great life there but now I don’t care about material things. All that matters is the health and safety of my family.”