Starting Over

July 6, 2023 • Colombia
Small business training provided by Samaritan’s Purse has enabled Natalia to earn enough to pay for her children’s school expenses.

Samaritan’s Purse is coming alongside Venezuelan migrants in Colombia to help them rebuild their lives in a new country.

Help Venezuelans in Crisis

There was a time when Natalia was studying hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. But she had to quit school and devote all her time to working when the economy in Venezuela began to collapse. Families faced dire food shortages, power blackouts, and a failing national healthcare system. Eventually, she made the difficult decision to leave her home and flee to Colombia with her children.

After a stressful journey, the family spent a night in the Samaritan’s Purse shelter in La Donjuana, Colombia, just across the border, which provides weary migrants a hot meal, a shower, and a safe place to rest.

After traveling deeper into Colombia, Natalia and her children slept in a park. Over time, she worked in the kitchen of several restaurants, but she wasn’t paid enough to support her family.

“Every day I think about my children and their necessities,” she said.

Remembering the care she received at our shelter, Natalia was excited when she heard that Samaritan’s Purse was working with migrants in and around Bucaramanga in northern Colombia. She applied to participate in our project that provides small business training and startup resources.

Finance classes in Nueva Alianza teach residents how to create business plans for their entrepreneurial efforts.

As a result, Natalia began selling household items, such as bedding, curtains, and towels, to earn a living. She learned best practices for buying and selling, and also how to effectively manage her income.

Now, Natalia is finally able to pay her children’s school fees. She knows that keeping them in school is crucial to providing them the opportunity for a brighter future.

Natalia said she is grateful that the Lord has sustained her family through hardships.

“God is with me in this journey. I have walked with Him, and I have seen how God gives strength and lifts up individuals and entire families.”

Creating a New Community

María Alejandra is a Venezuelan migrant who, like Natalia, was desperate to carve out a new life for her family in Colombia. She first built a small house made of stone, scrap metal, and wood on a hill in an area where other migrants were beginning to settle. The hill is called “Nueva Alianza,” or New Covenant. María Alejandra explained that the name gives God glory for protecting them and helping them to start over.

María Alejandra has championed development projects, such as a stair system of tires upgraded to concrete, as a result of attending Samaritan’s Purse community leadership classes.

María Alejandra has championed development projects, such as a stair system of tires upgraded to concrete, as a result of attending Samaritan’s Purse community leadership classes.

New Covenant has become very special to María Alejandra. She is grateful for the shared celebrations where families who are far away from loved ones gather to enjoy Christmas and other holidays. “I have a very big family—the family of New Covenant community,” she said.

As the area continued to grow, María Alejandra and other migrants realized that working together could be much better than trying to figure everything out on their own in a different country. They wanted to create a united community that supported one another.

Yet, the struggling migrants didn’t know where to start to build their new lives. They were grateful to hear that Samaritan’s Purse was going to help them learn how to develop a thriving, self-sustaining community that would prepare the next generation for success.

Sara Choque, a Samaritan’s Purse program development officer in Colombia, said that our staff worked hard to provide assistance in such a way that encouraged the community members to feel empowered to make decisions and work alongside each other.

The community of Nueva Alianza continues to grow as migrants build mountaintop structures of wood and metal.

We provided training on community improvement initiatives, leadership development, starting small businesses, and financial management. We offered evangelism and discipleship classes and hosted special events such as community meals and a Christian concert. Our teams also helped to facilitate school enrollment, making the process less overwhelming for parents.

In addition, Samaritan’s Purse renovated nearly 50 homes in the community, correcting structural issues to make the houses safer.

Using what they learned from our training, and with guidance and encouragement from our staff, the migrant families of New Covenant began putting down roots. They constructed stairs to connect the homes built on the steep hill, established a drainage system, and began working on the first community road. They also plan to build a church, community garden, and restaurant.

“Samaritan’s Purse united us as a community,” María Alejandra said.

After working closely with the New Covenant families, Sara said it was incredible to watch them come together. “It was like catching a glimpse of God’s Kingdom on earth,” she said.

“I was truly blessed to see how touched the community members were to experience the love of Jesus.”

Samaritan’s Purse offers evangelism and discipleship classes to the people of Nueva Alianza to share the Gospel in this migrant community.

A young girl has a hearty meal at our shelter in Bucaramanga.
Help Venezuelans in Crisis Five million Venezuelans have fled their homeland over the past several years. Hunger, a collapsing healthcare system, and violence drive them to leave. Since 2018, Samaritan's Purse has provided relief to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants seeking a new life in Colombia. This may be the largest migrant crisis in Latin American history, and we're offering relief from multiple locations—providing food, shelter, and medical care among other services. As we minister, we are pointing people, young and old, to the eternal hope found only in Jesus Christ.

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