From the Streets to Security
By: Merlin M.| Volunteer
Maria Eugenia and her three children are the newest residents in the temporary women’s shelter operated by Ciudad Refugio. Originally from Venezuela, Maria Eugenia, her husband Victor and their children: Maria (8 years old), Emmanuel David (5 years old) and Mattias (9 months old) have been in Colombia for more than one year. They decided to leave their homeland of Venezuela because of the dire economic situation in the country. Maria Eugenia can recount how there was no food, gas, water or even electricity available. She was previously working as a special education teacher and her husband as a security guard; but soon, both were unemployed and made the difficult decision to seek refuge in Colombia.
Once the family crossed the border into Colombia, they found passage to the city of Medellin. They came seeking economic opportunities and availability of jobs. But this proved difficult. Victor was unable to find consistent employment. Therefore, the family was forced to move from one inquilianto (tenement house) to another. Their housing was basically renting out one room in a house for 2 adults and their three children. Finally, in November, the little money they had stored up, ran out. Maria Eugenia and family were kicked out of their home because they couldn’t pay rent.
For ten days, the family slept on the street near the center of the city. Maria Eugenia described this time as immensely difficult. Not only were the streets dangerous, but there was also rain every night. The family was forced to find protection under whatever piece of tarp they could acquire. By God’s grace, the two older children were still able to attend a special school for Venezuelan refugee children. Through this, Maria and Emmanuel were able to eat two meals a day.
It was also at this school, upon hearing about the circumstances of the family, a teacher mentioned she knew a place, Ciudad Refugio, where the family may inquire about assistance. On November 29, the family came to attend the Sunday service at Casa de Refugio. After the service, they spoke with leadership, who offered them a place of shelter. Maria Eugenia, Maria, Emmanuel, and baby Mattias were welcomed into the women’s shelter while Victor sought employment and slept every night in the men’s shelter.
After about two weeks of living in the foundation, the family procured enough funds to buy bus passages to Pasto and therefore left the shelter. We wish them well on their journey and are grateful to have been allowed to play a small part in demonstrating the love of Christ to them.