Paths of hope

“Since we left Venezuela, I’ve never felt as much fear as I did that night. The night that I was separated from my newborn daughter, listening to the nurses say, the girl, she needs to be checked very carefully”.
Since September 2018, and leaving behind her home in the Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto, Williannys and her husband have traveled a path filled with sadness, which has been balanced only by the joy that their daughter Abdiana has brought.
Making the decision to flee from home was not an easy one. But they were living in
complete uncertainty, with little sense of where to go or whom to ask for help, knowing only that they could not keep waiting and hoping that one day things would change for the better in Venezuela.
They crossed the border into Arauca, and continued walking until they arrived in Agua Azul, a municipality in Casanare, where they began to sell small goods informally on the street, always sleeping on the street as well, and only very rarely ate three meals per day.
But one of those days would leave an impact on their lives forever, when in the middle of an excruciatingly hot, 90-degree day, Williannys fainted, unsure if the cause was the lack of sufficient food, the heat, or exhaustion from long workdays.
They received immediate help from a Colombian woman, who brought Williannys
and her husband to the nearest health clinic, where they received first aid until
Williannys regained consciousness. The clinic staff ran some basic tests, and to the
surprise of the Venezuelan couple, Williannys was seven months pregnant. Upon
hearing this news, the couple contacted a close relative in Bogotá, and began their journey on foot to Colombia’s capital in search of a better future for their growing
family.
Upon arrival in the city, they were able to find a safe roof over their heads as well as three meals a day. Most importantly, they were able to access prenatal checkups for the baby on the way. Williannys found a job in a garment factory, but at the end of her first week of work, received only the equivalent of six dollars – less than a dollar per day – and she decided not to return the following week.
The lack of income led them once again to restart their journey, this time to the south of the country to the department of Putumayo, where Williannys had been given the promise of a dignified job to provide at least the bare minimum as she continued with her pregnancy. When they arrived in Puerto Asís, life began to change for the family – with a climate and environment akin to their native Venezuela, and with an income that allowed them to pay rent and purchase food.
Despite this newly found stability and the care Williannys received since learning she was pregnant, their daughter Abdiana arrived in the world with a medical condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, with what are known “crystal bones” – a genetic abnormality that causes extremely brittle bones in infants. Within five days of her birth, Abdiana already had eight fractures in her body, requiring emergency referrals to the hospital to receive the appropriate attention, equipment, and treatment.
In addition to her daughter’s medical condition, Williannys’s family experienced many other challenges, including being robbed and suffering acts of discrimination and xenophobia. However, thanks to the support of the VenEsperanza program, the family was able to finally achieve stability and create the foundation for life in Cali.
“With the help that we have received from the VenEsperanza program, we have
been able to purchase diapers and clean clothes for our girl, as well as pay rent and buy other needs in bulk – because we don’t know what the future holds. With this assistance and given our girl’s condition, we believe that she will be safer here – in Venezuela it is very difficult to find the medicines and specialists she needs to manage her illness.”

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