Friendly hands help Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago

Hermandad Sin Fronteras works with the Living Water Community to deliver food to Venezuelan refugees in TT.
 - Grevic Alvarado
Hermandad Sin Fronteras works with the Living Water Community to deliver food to Venezuelan refugees in TT. - Grevic Alvarado

Love for your neighbour. Following the word of God, various organisations and families have come together to help the thousands of Venezuelan refugees who  live in TT and who became unemployed as a result of the quarantine by the covid19.

Humanitarian enterprises originally carried out  monthly, since mid-March have been expanded and are now done almost daily.

Basic food and personal hygiene items are delivered in boxes or bags to families, who are grateful for the helping hand.

There are several groups that currently work to collectand distribute supplies.

Hermandad Sin Fronteras (Brotherhood Without Borders) is one of those groups that work as a family, almost tirelessly, in order to collect supplies, organise them and then distribute them.

Mixi Mendoza Cedeño and Thairys Mejías López lead the initiative, which started in 2018.

"We had been working on giving donations to Venezuelan refugees for two years, but as a result of the quarantine decree here, we decided to expand the number of collaborators and efforts," explained Mejías López.

Until this week, Hermandad Sin Fronteras had delivered bags of food to 600 families, both Venezuelans and Trinidadians.

Mejías López said, "We have a WhatsApp group and, from there, several refugees joined to collaborate with the distribution of the bags to those in need. We also developed a zone that goes from Port of Spain to Arima and, from there, we implemented six collection centres."

She emphasised that food bags were collected at the centres but pregnant women or the elderly could receive them at home.

"Saturdays are the days to organise everything received during the week through donations and, from there, several personal vehicles belonging to Trinidad residents are activated."

In all of this work, the Living Water Community has helped a lot with providing manpower, ideas and getting donations.

Mendoza Cedeño said, "We must also highlight that we are doing everything by complying with the preventive measures implemented by the Government of TT and, at the same time, carrying the message of social distancing to collaborate on the information side.

"We are grateful to God for this opportunity to provide many with a bag of love for others. We hope that blessings continue so that we can keep bringing aid to those most in need."

Another group, La Casita, works at the Hispanic Cultural Centre in Arima to help Venezuelan refugees.

La Casita director Andreina Briceno Brown explained that the group began seeking help from various local organisations six weeks ago.

"La Casita generally receives aid on a monthly basis to share with refugees who are unemployed, but since the quarantine began, the search for more aid has expanded."

She said it had organised a plan based on the children registered in the educational programmes carried out by the Hispanic Cultural Centre.

"This is the first group of people that needed help, as many of the parents were left without jobs."

So far they have managed to help 100 families. They have 400 families registered to receive help in all.

The food bags include rice, flour, sugar, salt, canned, milk, grains, oil, spaghetti among other things, food that can last for several days.

Venezuelan migrants are also struggling to pay rent during these difficult times and many are under threat of eviction.

Andreina Briceno said, "Unfortunately that is a complicated situation, because it is about money. Our work is based on food and hygiene items that locals can supply. But it is difficult for us to source money to help people pay rent."

She called on landlords to be more understanding as the covid19 global pandemic persists.


"Friendly hands help Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago"

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