A version of this article also appeared at Think Freely Latino.
In the U.S., we recently celebrated Memorial Day, honoring those heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting bravely for our freedom. But who is taking notice of the freedom fighters in Venezuela, at least 56 of whom have given their lives in recent months? Their fight is not merely political. Venezuelans are fighting for their very existence.
One group of Americans has formed a nonprofit called Helping Venezuela, and group members are stepping up to support Venezuelans with food and financial aid.
Lissette Kron is a North Carolina wife and mother of two, with another on the way. She moved to the United States from Venezuela 15 years ago. Her parents followed two years after that and applied for political asylum. Her grandfather and many uncles, aunts, and cousins still live in Venezuela.
And her heart is with them.
“I feel deeply sad to see how my once beautiful and rich country got destroyed thanks to the failed system of socialism,” Lissette said. “I feel like I must do something to bring awareness to others about … the horror Venezuelans are going through on a daily basis.
Lissette’s aunt still lives in Venezuela and runs an orphanage. She told her niece that families had begun going door to door, begging for food. It was clear the need was growing greater every day.
In fact, according to a recent study, 75 percent of Venezuelans have lost 19 pounds as a result of food shortages and one-third of Venezuela’s people are eating no more than two meals a day. The situation is heartbreaking.
Lissette, her sister Mimi and their aunt knew they had to do something.
And thus began Helping Venezuela.
The trio decided that they could help at least some Venezuelan families by collecting donations online via a GoFundMe page and shipping food, toiletries and other basic items. Donations started coming in. Hundreds shared the website on social media, and a total of $9,278 has been donated on the page so far. In addition to cash donations, thousands of dollars in needed goods have been purchased directly via wish lists compiled by Lissette and her family. All items are shipped directly to Lissette’s aunt in Venezuela to be distributed to families in need.
The overwhelming response has resulted in real help for men, women and children in the struggling nation. Lissette’s aunt sometimes shares photos of those who have received donations. The smiles, especially on the faces of the elderly and the children, will warm and break your heart at the same time.
What is the long-term solution?
“I hope the international community tries anything they can to force this dictatorship out, Lissette said. “They’re drug lords and dangerous criminals running Venezuela and denying basic human rights to their own people. They must go, and other countries need to intervene.”
But in the meantime, as Venezuela crumbles, it is not the government that is coming to the aid of its own people. Socialism has failed them while Americans like Lissette offer help to support the suffering men, women and children fighting for freedom — and for their lives.
To read more about Helping Venezuela and how you can donate, visit www.HelpingVenezuela.com.