TT's Venezuelans struggling to make it

FLASHBACK: Venezuelan immigrants line up outside the Queen's Park Savannah in June 2019, waiting to be registered to legally work and live in TT for a year. FILE PHOTO   -
FLASHBACK: Venezuelan immigrants line up outside the Queen's Park Savannah in June 2019, waiting to be registered to legally work and live in TT for a year. FILE PHOTO -

UNEMPLOYMENT, sexual exploitation, sub-standard working conditions, xenophobia and being blamed for bringing in the covid19 virus are only a few of the negative obstacles facing Venezuelans living and working in TT.

This has led to many immigrants suffering psychological and economic trauma as they desperately search for alternatives in order to eke out a living and send money and supplies home to families and loved ones grappling with economic and political oppression in their homeland.

Adrianna King, a psycho-social worker at the Living Water Community, explained to Newsday that from a professional point of view, the psychosocial and emotional impact on immigrants is quite distressing.

"While it is a known fact that displaced people face the hardship of having to leave their homes in pursuit of safety away from socio-economical and political unrest, hunger, super-inflation, failed health and other critical systems, the covid19 pandemic has further adversely affected this population" she stated.

Venezuelan migrants who have come to TT, frequently leave behind family members so they sacrifice themselves, taking on the task of providing for the household back home, while striving to maintain a barely decent standard of living.

"Refugees are marginalised and vulnerable members of society and the outbreak of this pandemic has increased their fear, anguish and anxiety. Depressive disorder symptoms have impacted mood, behaviour and also basic physical functions such as sleep, appetite and even mental capacities needed for concentration and problem solving," explained the specialist.

King said that self-esteem has also taken a blow as the immigrants feel rejected, unaccepted by the community, misunderstood and not assisted or supported. "The emotions that accompany any migration process have heightened bringing forward feelings of uncertainty and despair."

There is a general sense of impotence and no escape or solution to their precarious lives, where the quality of the same has noticeably decreased due to job loss, evictions and discrimination.

"Migrants have additional consternations as the covid19 is not only a threat to one's physical integrity, one's health but it carries a mortal risk, which weighs heavily in the mind of any human being," she added.

Andreina Briceño Brown, director of the Hispanic Cultural Center in Arima, said many Venezuelan families have been sent to the streets by landlords, sometimes for irregular immigration reasons and other times, for xenophobic reasons. This has caused great psychological and emotional problems.

"They are in a situation of vulnerability, it is an anguish for everyone as they feel unprotected, violated and above all isolated by society, many have nowhere to go, they have lost their jobs, their homes and even their families by being separated," Brown said.

She said the Center has received countless calls and messages requesting both financial and psychological help from Venezuelans and added that the Centre has been working with other non-governmental organisations.

“It is a dramatic situation, the Venezuelan immigrant is not only emotionally affected by the problems in his country, but also by the fact of having to go to another country where he faces oppression, exploitation, humiliation and police persecution...and also the covid19 virus.” She called for more understanding and empathy from the TT public.


"TT’s Venezuelans struggling to make it"

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