Compassion families report break-in attempt amid Colombia protests

By December 6, 2019

Colombia (MNN) — Demonstrators took to the streets of Bogota, Colombia, on Wednesday for the third national protest since November 21.

Yesterday, Colombia’s president met again with a committee representing protestors. The group listed 13 demands for President Iván Duque, BBC News reports, ranging widely from fulfilling obligations under the 2016 Farc peace deal to securing minimum wage for young people. So far, the talks are going nowhere.

Although protests are mostly peaceful, Senior Program Support Manager Carlos Alvarez says a few families helped by Compassion International are on-edge.

“Some of the families [were] experiencing a little bit of unrest, and there was actually a little bit of panic…because people were trying to break in [to their homes].”

Are Venezuelans to blame?

“We help Venezuelans because at least we have a roof, but Venezuelans are adrift.” The Numas, a family of five, have taken in two Venezuelan friends to live with them in their humble room made from plastic tarps, old wood and metal roof tiles. They share with them the little food they have.
(Photo, caption courtesy of Compassion International)

According to UNHCR, more than 4 million Venezuelans have left their homeland. Some 1.4 million are now in Colombia, a number that’s grown significantly during 2019 alone:

By the end of 2015, Colombia hosted less than 40,000 Venezuelans, a number that has grown more than 3,500%, reaching 1.4 million by August 2019, with an increase of almost 300,000 refugees and migrants in the first seven months of the year.

Some Colombians accuse Venezuelan migrants of vandalism and looting connected with protests, Reuters reports. Alvarez says a few people may fall into this mindset, but the idea isn’t widespread.

“Some might get that perspective… there might be some thoughts [like] ‘This [person] is from Venezuela; [he] is going to rob me or he’s going to do vandalism’,” he says. However, Colombian believers are quick to defend the innocent.

“We know that there might be specific cases but [it’s not accurate to assume] that someone from Venezuela is the one doing vandalism.”

Instead, believers use the little they have to help Venezuelans living among them. More about that here. “Right now, we have a total of almost 1,400 registered [Venezuelan] children under 12 years old” who are receiving benefits through Compassion and its church partners, Alvarez says.

How to help

(Photo courtesy of Compassion International)

Compassion partners with nearly 300 Colombian churches to help impoverished families in Jesus’ name. Together, they’ve served more than 90,000 children since 1974. Learn more about Compassion Colombia.

“Please keep praying for us,” Alvarez requests. Use the prayer prompts listed alongside this article.

“Donors can come in and support us as well so that more children can get the help they need through our local church partners.”

Click here to sponsor a Colombian child through Compassion International. Or, read about changed lives on Compassion’s blog.



Header image depicts a protestor’s sign during November 23 demonstrations. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons.

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