This Colombian woman shelters 150 Venezuelans every day

When Maria del Pilar Figueroa saw fleeing Venezuelans passing by her home in Colombia on foot, she had to do something.

by &

    Every day, the economic and political crisis in Venezuela forces hundreds to abandon their homeland. The most common destination is Colombia due to the proximity and the size of its shared border with Venezuela. 

    Many refugees, about 1.5 million, have chosen to remain in Colombia, but others have continued on to Ecuador, Peru, Chile or Mexico. As the crisis has worsened, most refugees leaving Venezuela today do not have enough money for a bus ticket and are forced to travel on foot.

    To get from Cucuta to the next nearest town, these "caminates", or "walkers" must travel 195km, climb mountains 3,200 metres above sea level and then back down. Various NGOs and Colombians living in the region have set up camps to help the desperate Venezuelans endure the harsh conditions and freezing temperatures during the journey.

    Maria del Pilar Figueroa lives at the most difficult point along the route, in La Laguna, Paramo de Berlin. After she witnessed the procession of Venezuelans passing by her home, she decided to open up her home as a refuge. Now, she's running a shelter. Along with her two children, Maria dedicates her life to helping the refugees fleeing her neighbouring country. Their lives have changed completely, as have those of the Venezuelans they have met.

    There are now nearly 3.5 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide, according to the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR).

    Director:

    Alejandro Bernal Rueda 

    Researcher/Producer:

    Sofia Villamil

    Editor:

    HyoJin Park

    Alejandro Bernal Rueda

    Production Company:

    Tropico Media 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


    ABOUT THE AUTHORS



    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.