Offering a helping hand to Venezuelans forced to abandon their homeland

February 21, 2019 • Colombia
Children get ready to open their shoeboxes.
Children get ready to open their shoeboxes.

Operation Christmas Child shoebox outreach events a bright spot for many fleeing children.

Estela with her parents, and the shoebox containing new clothes justs her size.

Estela with her parents, and the shoebox containing new clothes justs her size.

Times have been very tough for five-year-old Estela* and millions of other Venezuelans in recent months, as their Latin American nation’s economy collapses and so many are struggling to survive.

Estela’s father Juan* was an electronics technician in Valencia, Venezuela’s second largest city. When the economic crisis in their homeland sparked a seemingly impossible inflation rate of one-million per cent—meaning what cost 10 cents before costs $100,000 now—Juan lost his job and the family lost their house.

Then, when faced with the prospect of joining his neighbors in rummaging through street garbage to find food, Juan decided to take his wife and Estela and join the seemingly endless throng of Venezuelans fleeing to neighboring Colombia. They scraped together enough money to buy tickets on a hot, crowded bus and traveled more than 700 kilometers to Colombia.

One of our employees, preparing a hot meal for Venezuelan migrants at our roadside facility called the "Shelter of Hope".

One of our employees, preparing a hot meal for Venezuelan migrants at our roadside facility called the “Shelter of Hope”.

That’s where Samaritan’s Purse welcomed them, as they arrived in the city of Cúcuta. With support from Canadian donors like you, we are operating the Centro de Esperanza (or Center of Hope), a welcoming rest stop for the millions of Venezuelans who are flooding into Colombia. Our dedicated team of chaplains is offering the new arrivals much-needed food plus spiritual, medical, and other assistance.

Because most of the migrant families at the Center of Hope have so little to offer their children, many of whom have no idea why their young lives have been turned upside down, we also organize outreach events of gift-filled Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

When Estela received her colorful shoebox, she and her parents discovered it was filled with toys and other attractive items, including clothes in exactly her size! The small girl carefully examined one item after another, while her parents expressed their deep appreciation to Operation Christmas Child donors. It was also a wonderful opportunity for one of our employees to pray with this tearful Christian family.

A Samaritan's Purse physician caring for children and mothers at the Center of Hope.

A Samaritan’s Purse physician caring for children and mothers at the Center of Hope.

Read how shoebox gifts encourage Venezuelan migrants in Colombia

The Center of Hope is one of several important Samaritan’s Purse projects around the world that aid refugees, migrants and other “displaced” people who desperately need help in Jesus’ name.

The United Nations predicts that at least another three million people will be forced to leave Venezuela during 2019. We welcome your prayers and financial support for the Center of Hope and other projects like it. With your help we can be Good Samaritans to many more little children like Estela and to their families.

Please pray for Venezuela and for the migrants traveling into Colombia. In addition to Operation Christmas Child, we have a number of ongoing project to serve displaced Venezuelans.

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