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Tzu Chi volunteers distribute food aid to Venezuelans stranded in Chile

Tzu Chi Chile volunteers distribute food to Venezuelan migrant workers who are forced to live on the streets while waiting for their Embassy to help them return home.

20200602 TCChile1Tzu Chi volunteers provide food to stranded Venezuelans to keep them replenished as they wait for the needed assistance from the Venezuela embassy. A child shyly receives a bag of food from a volunteer. (Image extracted from Da Ai news)   

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies in Chile to stop operating. The shutting down of these businesses have led to the unemployment of many Venezuelans in Chile, and these migrant workers wish to return home. These migrant workers have waited outside the Embassy for nearly a month, waiting for assistance to return to Venezuela. Due to a drop of temperature to three degrees in the past few days, many of them are feeling cold and hungry. In view of such a situation, local Tzu Chi volunteers provided food for them to keep them warm and replenished. 

Venezuelans long to return home after losing jobs

The Venezuelans have brought their quilts, clothing, and even beds, tables, chairs and other belongings to the streets, these are the predicaments of the stranded unemployed migrant Venezuelan workers and their family who have become homeless. Many of them are forced to live on the streets, their only hope is to return home, but help is not forthcoming.

Tzu Chi volunteer Wu Hui Lan said that many businesses have ceased operation in order to flatten the curve, which is why many Venezuelans have become jobless. Without a job, there is no way for them to pay rent, so they have to seek help from the Embassy.

"Right now, they are requesting the Venezuelan Embassy in Chile to help them charter a flight back to Venezuela, but there is no outcome yet, so they set up a tent outside the Embassy.”

One of them told Tzu Chi volunteers that there are 400 of them, 250 are here, and another 150 are in the church nearby.  

"Most of them who are staying in the church are children and elderly people. Others would only go to the church when they need to use the washroom or take a bath."

20200602 TCChile2
Many Venezuelans are unable to pay for their rental and are forced to gather outside the embassy to request for assistance to return to their home country. (Image extracted from Da Ai news)

Distribution of food to the stranded workers and their families during a cold season

Temperature has dropped in recent days and these people on the street are cold and hungry. Tzu Chi Chile volunteers bought biscuits, cereal bars, yogurt, cakes, fruit juice and chocolates to keep them replenished and to withstand the cold at night. These aid supplies were distributed to the stranded Venezuelans by a Venezuelan volunteer.

"It is very difficult for them, because it will be cold here, thank you all and thanks for the donated supplies by Chileans," said the Venezuelan volunteer. 

The Venezuelans are grateful for the supplies, but they are still feeling helpless about their future.

"What we need the most is a solution, and that is to let us fly back to our home country, we do not want to stay here and rely on everyone here to support our basic needs.”

The whole world is waiting for the pandemic to dissipate. Before that happens, Tzu Chi will continue to do its best to distribute food and protective gear to those who are in need.

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