April 10, 2020•230 words
I was recently encouraged to see the March issue of "The Rotarian" put a spotlight on the exodus of refugees from Venezuela, which is growing in scope, but not necessarily in coverage. The article was able to put a personal spin on a humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions by highlighting the unique stories of three refugees.
Having recently returned from attending an international project fair in Colombia, I experienced the struggle of those fleeing Venezuela in person. In Cali, entire families were stationed at traffic lights waiting to clean windshields, scrub tires, or sell trinkets to stopped cars. Presumably they have no permanent housing, and no easy way to acquire gainful employment, so they do whatever necessary to earn enough money just to survive. In December, The Brookings Institute projected the crisis would quickly rival that of Syria, yet relief funding remains at a level well below what the Syrian epidemic has received.
One of Rotary's areas of focus is peace and conflict resolution, and fortunately at least one of the projects featured at the fair was aimed at developing supports for those refugees fleeing into Colombia. I would encourage more Rotarians to get involved at a global level in order to maximize our impact throughout the world. The 6th annual project fair in Colombia will be held in Medellin next year, and the Colombian people are very welcoming.