A month ago I had a powerful experience crossing the border from Ecuador to Colombia. While I was aware of the situation in Venezuela, the enormity of it struck me when I found 1000s of Venezuelans in line at that border crossing. The line wasn’t moving. There were so many people– grandparents, parents, children, babies, single people…all waiting to cross out of Colombia and into Ecuador. On the Colombian side there was a massive first aid tent set up which was packed with people needing help. I was waiting next to a family of six who had just spent 4 days traveling through Colombia. They were bound for Peru. The youngest children (ages 1 and 2) were crying. The family had no food to give them. They were all exhausted. I slipped the mom some cash and she quickly stashed it in her bra. Some families were traveling with suitcases, others with just a plastic bag, blanket and pillow. The sound of children crying was everywhere.
I finally made it across but missed my plane to Bogotá where I had planned to meet my husband and daughter. So I checked into a hotel for the night. Once alone I burst into tears. Tears of sadness and compassion for the Venezuelan people. I felt like my heart burst open. I walked around town that night and felt so awake and full of gratitude for my life. For having a home to return to, food to eat, shelter, water, the ability to travel…. so much! I felt these waves of gratitude and sadness wash through me.
I eventually got to Bogotá. In our neighborhood the sidewalks were full of Venezuelans selling candy and asking for money. I emptied my pockets of change everyday, but this didn’t feel like enough. Then I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea: videos of Venezuelans telling their stories to share with people in the US. It felt like a good thing to do and I was excited to be able to help in some way. But then I got shy!!! I felt nervous approaching people and asking to record them. Thanks to a friend who reminded me that people will WANT to tell their stories, and that alone will be healing, I took a deep breath and started talking to people (listening to people is a better word for what I did). Everyone I approached was eager to share their story with you. The videos represent a fraction of the time I spent with each of these groups. The conversations deeply touched me and I am glad to be able to share them.
We plan to add Spanish and English subtitles to these. If you are willing to help, here is a Google Doc with info for you.
In total there are eight videos. For some reason the last videos I filmed don’t have volume so they are not useable. 🙁 A link to the YouTube playlist is here, or you can click on the individual videos below.
Please feel free to share!