Let’s help these two Venezuelan families – one who stays in Venezuela and one who had to leave Venezuela.
Watch their videos and share these lessons with your students and friends.
Teach your students that immigration is not something that just happens at the Mexican border, or in the movies Sweet 15 and Bajo la Misma Luna.
Daniel is currently scrambling to feed his family and to stay in an apartment he shares with another family. Your purchase of his song directly helps him to feed his family – most days they have one meal of bean soup. Rice is a special treat a couple of times a week.
As a teacher, Daniel’s story horrifies me. One year he is teaching music, living with his family in their apartment, praying for a miracle that he and his wife can have children, the next moment, the Venezuelan economy forces his school to close and he can’t find work. He started making music and selling it over the internet when his prayers were answered and his wife became pregnant.
But in the summer of 2016, even with dollars, they couldn’t find food for his wife and the doctor told them that the pregnancy was not thriving and in danger of the baby dying. Daniel moved his wife to live with relatives in Colombia, as her mother was born there and thus is entitled to citizenship. Daniel prepared to join his wife and immigrate to Bogota, leaving his supportive extended family and taking his mother with him.
That decision had so many unexpected consequences because when their bus crashed after they crossed the border and were near their destination, his mother’s skull injuries needed to be fixed in surgery to save her life. In a new country, on tourist visas, without medical care, all of the money intended to support them during the transition was used up in medical care and Daniel incurred debt just to keep his mother alive.
When asked why he brought his mother with him, he explained that he lived in a family apartment in Venezuela. He and his wife had one bedroom, his sister and her husband and two daughters shared another bedroom, his single sister and mother another bedroom. When there was so little food available for them to eat, his mother would make sure her children and grandchildren would eat and she spent days in her room crying from hunger. She also needed daily medicine that was no longer available. So it made sense she could help the young family with the baby and have the medical help and food that she couldn’t find in Venezuela.
Prior to his leaving in September of 2016, Daniel would tell me of all the funerals he attended. Because of the economic crises, his diabetic uncle could no longer find insulin to purchase and died. His relatives with heart conditions and high blood pressure, died because they couldn’t find medicine that here in the United States we take for granted. The other people who provide music and graphics and videos all reported the same thing – so many middle aged people dying young because of the lack of medicine available in Venezuela at the time.
Daniel could not work until he had the paperwork and legal status. Even when he finally had all of the paperwork and went to the government office to file it, he was at first denied, and then was met outside by a friend of the government employee offering to help him get his papers approved – for extra money. Even when he believes he has the correct amount of money, there are people taking advantage of the many desperate Venezuelans immigrants flooding Colombia.
Even renting an apartment with another family was almost impossible until his paperwork was cleared. He kept producing songs for our transition videos but Daniel’s family had to leave their first apartment because the other family didn’t pay their half.
Daniel is willing to work at just about anything. In addition to teaching and producing music, he can drive a truck, work any kind of construction, cook in a restaurant, sell. But the reality is that he doesn’t have any lifelong connections in his new country. He is very devout and his new church is supportive – but limited in the face of so many newcomers.
There is more food and medical supplies available in Colombia, but jobs are just as scarce as they were in Venezuela. We can’t change what is going on in Venezuela, nor can we help everyone to have what we easily take for granted here.
Current Events in Venezuela 2019
How can you make today’s Venezuelan Crises concrete for Spanish students?
Price of Food and Wages
Students predict how many hours they would have to work if they lived in Venezuela and received minimum wage.
Students predict prices for a typical household of five’s necessities. They can do this for three dates, January 31st, February 6th, and February 13th.
Price of Education
Students read prices written in words and write the numerals on a work sheet and calculate from bolivares to dollars. Students discuss the implications when they do the same for the father’s wages.
Agua en Venezuela
Students read the difficulty that Cristina has to bring a water bottle to school. Free download.
All net proceeds go to three Venezuelan families. Help support their education and keep them well-fed and with medicines when they need them.
Once a year I send them used clothing from my family and colleagues at school.
If you are interested in Venezuela, you may like this song about immigrating to Colombia.
You may also be interested in the Venezuelan National Anthem Video and booklet.
Click here to help them.
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January 2019 Update:
Daniel took a course to become a truck driver – when he completed the course he could not pass the physical because he was diagnosed with hepatitis B. Discouraged he left Bogotá and moved to the country to help a friend of the family reclaim a small greenhouse and farm in the mountains. They have built sewage and water system and are repairing the damaged cottage. He works in the fields for others for cash and improve the land for housing. He is making it – covering his basic needs – until someone is sick and then he needs help getting medical care as they are not covered.
Meanwhile his sister is struggling in Venezuela – food is hypervalued compared to wages. This is what $50 could buy last week. Her husband makes less than $10 per month working full time. It covers enough for a family of six but no room for shampoo or diapers or laundry detergent. In prior weeks it would have.They get water twice a week in their home taps, last week they went six days without it.