They hadn’t eaten in three days.
The hunger crisis in northwest Venezuela is so bad, we had to come up with a new way to measure it. Instead of counting how many meals a day kids here miss, we have to count how many days they go without anything at all.
In this part of the country, 75% of families go hungry. Parents and grandparents have the agonizing daily task of trying to distract their little ones from the hunger pains. Many of these families are used to hunger—it’s been their pattern of life for years now. And for some, this is a fresh shame, after having lost their jobs, their ability to feed their families, and the stability they used to know as their country crumbled around them.
They pray to God for help—knowing they have exhausted every plan they had to keep their families going.
There’s a lot that can be said about the crisis in Venezuela. Reasons why the economy collapsed, leaving much of the population desperate. Reasons why families have lost hope. Reasons why COVID-19 has cut off the most reliable source of food and medical care these families had.
But for right now, what I want you to know is that thousands of starving Venezuelans wake up every morning with no idea how they are going to eat—and we are rushing food to their doors.
Just getting food to families here is complicated. Gas can run as high as $15 to $20 a gallon… when you can find it. It’s not unusual to stay in line for 2 to 3 days every time you need to fill up. We’re delivering some food by car, but clearly, it’s impossible to deliver to everyone this way.
So our team delivers much of the food themselves, on foot. That’s how committed they are to getting nourishing food into the hands of those who need it most.
We deliver bags filled with everything a Venezuelan family needs to make meals for about a month. Items such as eggs, margarine, meat and chicken, oil, sugar, pasta and rice, powdered milk, and coffee. We include both the foods families here like to eat, and foods specifically chosen to help malnourished kids recover safely.
For those who get only a little electricity each day, they’ll be able to cook on a stove at home. Some families find firewood to cook with—they’ll cook near home. And for those who have neither electricity or the means to gather firewood, they’ll have the help of a neighbor to transform raw ingredients into nutritious food.
These packs include soap and laundry detergent too, to help keep families well—from regular germs that cause illness, as well as to prevent new COVID-19 cases, which have increased almost 250% over the summer.
It is extremely difficult to access healthcare in most of Venezuela. Those lucky enough to see a doctor have to provide their own supplies and medicine.
Families who are already starving don’t have the money to pay for treatment. For now, prevention is the best way to protect these families.
The situation is dire. We see it on their faces; hear it in their voices. We knew that providing a month’s worth of food would bring some relief. What we didn’t expect were the tears.
Mothers and grandmothers receiving food, with tears streaming down their faces.
Friends, we have the chance to stand with these women and their families, and push back the darkness. We have the chance to stop the effects of chronic hunger and show our friends in Venezuela that even with all the need in this hurting world, their cries are heard.