Venezuelans caught between
a rock and a hard place
as COVID-19 takes hold

As governments across the world tell people to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID-19, millions of poor people are caught between a rock and a hard place. Either they stay at home and risk going hungry, or they risk getting the virus by going out on the streets to find a way of putting food on the table.

Rosa Coromato Marcha’s mother is one of the millions mothers who has no choice but to risk her life so she can support her daughter and her five grand children who live with her. Since Venezuela’s government imposed a lockdown on 15th March 2020, Rosa and her children have had to stay at home while her mother works as an assistant in a health clinic to put food on the table.

“The virus has affected everything,” says Rosa. “No one has been able to go out to look for work. I feel suffocated, shut in and really worried. My mother has to do everything yet it should be me supporting my children!”

Rosa’s children are aged 16, 13, 5 and she also has one and a half year-old twins. The eldest left for Colombia last year to look for work and lighten the burden on his family’s shoulders. The twins have been receiving treatment for malnutrition from Caritas for the past year.

COVID-19 in Venezuela: A two-fold crisis

Due to the great devaluation of the local currency, Rosa currently earns the equivalent of just US$5 a month to feed the whole family when she really needs at least USUS$230 to make sure the family doesn’t go hungry.

The family lives in the town of San Felipe, almost 293km from Caracas. By 5th May 2020 there were 345 confirmed cases of COVID19 in the whole of Venezuela and ten reported deaths.

Caritas Venezuela helps families with nutritional support amidst economic crisis and COVID-19

Many families in Venezuela have been receiving nutritional support from Caritas Venezuela. Photo by Caritas Venezuela

The economic, political and social crisis that has gripped Venezuela for the past few years means people have very few defences against the coronavirus. Many communities were suffering due to hunger, rampant poverty and a weak health system even before the crisis began. They often battle shortages of electricity, gas and water – which further complicate maintaining stringent hygiene measures.

Food and basic needs so everyone can stay home and safe

Caritas staff in Yaracuy State, where San Felipe is, have been delivering food parcels by bicycle and on foot because fuel shortages and traffic restrictions make using transport difficult. They also provide meals from the cathedral, giving out food supplements too for mothers of malnourished children, such as Rosa.

Caritas Venezuela began an awareness raising campaign in February to convey messages about how to prevent the transmission of COVID19 and how to stay healthy.

COVID-19 in Venezuela

Caritas Venezuela distributes food to families. Photo by Caritas Venezuela

“We all know that we have to wash our hands, use face masks, clean surfaces, boil water to wash the pots and stay away from people in the street,” says Rosa.

Rosa and her mother made their own masks for the family. They’re taking all precautions necessary and yet Rosa is worried about her mother catching the virus in the health clinic where she works and bringing it back to the family. In countries across the world, thousands of health workers have been infected with the coronavirus as a result of their work.

Trying to keep herself, her mother and her family safe and healthy are Rosa’s top priority but the challenges to doing so are massive. What Rosa and her family needs most of all is food, so everyone can stay home and stay safe and stay COVID free.

Rosa, like hundreds of millions of people around the world, urgently needs your help. Please help them by donating to Caritas Internationalis.

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