Covid-19 is complicating the situation in impoverished countries and people are experiencing shortages of supplies, clothing and food. This is the context in which Vincentians, also affected by poverty, attempt to help the most vulnerable.
With the arrival of emergency resources from the International Society of Saint Vincent de Paul International, the members in Venezuela have been able to obtain medical supplies and personal health and hygiene supplies for all the councils and conferences in the region, as well as food and medicine for many people in need. This includes some members who, due to their low income, cannot afford to buy what is necessary to take care of their health and that of their families.
The situation in Venezuela is still very critical and has become even more so as a result of the pandemic. The minimum wage is $ 1.50 a month and, depending on the exchange rate, it may be even less. Most retirees receive a minimum income and this includes many members of the Society.
The problems in Venezuela are numerous. Water and gas do not regularly reach the homes of people and many families cook on a wood stove. Electricity failures are a daily occurrence and many regions experiences outages that last for more than twelve hours. Communication by telephone and the internet is problematic, and there are even shortages in the supply of gasoline. Then, in 2020, the pandemic emerged.
The Vincentian conference members themselves were affected by this situation. With the pandemic, everything stopped and during the time of social isolation, many people lost their job. Young students viewed the future with uncertainty and did not know what to do.
Against this background, the National Council made a great effort to maintain constant communication with the councils and conferences throughout the country. One of the biggest difficulties in providing assistance is the fact that Council does not have a bank account in dollars. Many members have family members abroad who would like to contribute resources to support conferences in Venezuela, but cannot send the money. Venezuelan partners are attached to conferences in Miami, which have sent clothes and food. But this help has not reached the country because of sanctions imposed by the Venezuelan government. Thus, alternatives continue to be sought to obtain support to help people live though this critical moment.