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Jul 22 2017

The resilience of the Venezuelan people

A letter from our program coordinator in Venezuela

An image of upturned hands.
Updated August 3, 2017

You may have seen news reports on the increasingly volatile situation in Venezuela over the past several months. Unbound is helping the families we serve there get through skyrocketing inflation, widespread food shortages and large-scale protests that have been occurring on a near daily basis. The Unbound program in Venezuela is located in Barquisimeto, where we serve more than 3,400 families.

Staff and families there face daily hardship caused by unrest and economic instability, such as lack of food, transportation or electricity. Teams in our headquarters in Kansas City and in nearby Colombia and Bolivia are doing their best to support the staff in Barquisimeto, who are working tirelessly to ensure sponsored members continue to receive benefits and support.

Eliezer J. Lobo R., Unbound’s general coordinator in Venezuela, recently wrote a letter addressed to those who sponsor children and elders in his country. He provided an update on how the situation there is affecting our sponsored members and their families, and how the families and our staff are innovating and adapting within the current reality. Because we know others have concerns about the situation in Venezuela, we’re sharing the letter here as well.

As we see over and over, despite the challenges, the families we work with are full of hope. They envision a better future for their children and for themselves. Unbound is there to partner with these families as they work to achieve their dreams, and we’re there to support them through their struggles.

We ask that you keep these families, and all the people of Venezuela, in your thoughts and prayers.

Dear sponsors of the Barquisimeto project in Venezuela,

Cordial greetings from Eliezer J. Lobo R., general coordinator for the Barquisimeto project, on behalf of Unbound in Venezuela, in this beautiful land where, without a doubt, God reveals himself. Today in Venezuela we are, unfortunately, experiencing moments of much difficulty in many ways — economic, political, social, ideological and cultural. Through you, Unbound reaches more than 3,500 beneficiaries who are in a situation of poverty in our country.

Recently, through the International Programs Team, we have learned of the interest many of you have in knowing a little about how we, as an organization, have been confronting the economic, social and political situations of the country. In these days when the international media has its eyes on the situation in Venezuela, it is with much pain and nostalgia to see in the news, and even more so to experience, the great social and economic tragedy in which we live. The high cost of living, the shortages, and the non-existence of many basic products and necessities, primarily food, medical and personal items, limits us and chains us humanly and morally.

For this reason, as an organization, we continue working in strengthening the ideological basis that Unbound represents for our beneficiaries. More than just giving the fish, it is better to teach how to fish, and it is there where we have found the key and the motivation to continue fighting to accompany our families, since their potential and creativity are heroic.

Our mothers are confronting the shortages with creativity. Where there is not enough processed flour, they have returned to grinding corn, to yucca and to bananas, which in some ways have replaced the arepas that they long for. Their community experiences are inspiring. On their own, they have conducted workshops on strategies to confront the crisis, concerning everything from food and where it can be found to demonstrating their ideas and new diets.

As an organization, we accompany them in these processes because we, the collaborating team, in certain ways are experiencing the same situations. It is more than a salary for us, as the life lessons and satisfaction that come with belonging to the Unbound family are priceless.

In the process of delivering benefits, we have encouraged the sponsored members and representatives (usually mothers or other family members) to open bank accounts. This way the funds can be transferred in a direct way, and the families can find alternatives and more favorable economic strategies to make use of the resources that you generously send. We are in the process of building and strengthening this strategy, and we consider that the improvements in the dollar exchange rate, even with inflation and a high cost of living, have allowed us to hold on and continue reaching those most in need.

Something that continues to prevail in our meetings is the good humor, the empathy and the joy of the Venezuelan people. These qualities have manifested in prayer to God almighty to take pity on us and have mercy on our land. We have full faith and hope that He, who has blessed us with great qualities and riches, is allowing this whole situation to teach us and give us a lesson, but we are convinced that His mercy is infinite and His gaze has not left us.

We thank you infinitely for the support and love you express to our families through Unbound. They are very happy to know that far away there is someone who, without personally knowing them, loves them and thinks of them.

As a closing anecdote, I tell you that I have had little time serving as the coordinator of this beautiful work of love in Venezuela. Yet thanks to Unbound and those who thought of me without knowing me, today I am a professional and, above all, a better person, as in the past I was a beneficiary of this beautiful work. What always caught my attention was that through Unbound we break the social paradigms and stigmas. We permit this one-to-one relationship where you sow love and can be sure that God will reward and bear fruits of that love.

With a world of dreams and hopes that do not seem to fit in this country, I say goodbye to you and ask that you include our country in your prayers and personal encounters with God. Pray for us so that God provides infinite blessings for Venezuela. Be confident that we are praying and giving thanks to God each day for you.

God bless you,
Eliezer Lobo
General Coordinator

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