Forced to flee Venezuela, this cancer survivor is a model of resilience and hope

venezuelan cancer survivor looking at camera

Tamara’s decision to leave her home in Venezuela was not an easy one. She was recently widowed and desperate to find medical care to treat the rare form of throat cancer she was suffering from — but her life was at risk, and the only option was to leave. 

She flew south from La Fria where a truck was waiting to take her to the Venezuela-Colombia border. From there, she made the journey on foot to the Simón Bolívar International Bridge. It was hot, she had medical tubing hanging from her body and, in her condition, she worried she wasn’t going to make it.

“When I crossed the border and I saw the jackets of UNHCR, I said, ‘I will live.’” 

Once in Colombia, she was hospitalized and received the medical attention she desperately needed. 

Since 2014, Venezuela has been facing economic and political turmoil. Shortages of food, skyrocketing inflation and widespread violence threatened the well-being of millions. Basic services like medical care and education have also been impacted, forcing Venezuelans to flee in hopes of a brighter future.

When Tamara reached the bridge with thousands of other Venezuelans, she was filled with hope when she saw the blue vests of the field workers for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. 

Today, she is a cancer survivor. 

Venezuelans crossing into Colombia are children, women and men of all ages desperately searching for safety, protection and hope. Tamara found hope when she saw the blue vests and received the lifesaving medical attention she needed. Others will find it in their first warm meal, or their first night in a shelter safe from the cold. By becoming a donor today, you can support Venezuelans and refugees around the world who need your immediate help. 

* Name changed for privacy

Feb 4 2020
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