After the floods in Venezuela
Shortly before Christmas, 1999, Venezuela experienced one of the worst tragedies in its history when huge floods devastated the country, especially the state of Vargas. Tens of thousands of people died and many more lost their homes and possessions. Everyone reacted quickly in the face of the moral need to provide help to families who had been left with nothing.
Many of the victims were taken to Caracas and housed in military establishments, schools, gymnasiums, universities and even churches. In some of these shelters, girls who take part in activities of the Prados Club volunteered to help in such tasks as cleaning, cooking, child-care and direct assistance to the victims. On Christmas eve they collected toys for the children in one of the refugee centers. In addition they set up a collection center where they gathered food, clothing, medicines, household utensils and other supplies which, after being sorted out, were distributed to various shelters.
With the help of cafeteria personnel from the Monteavila University center and students from the Resolana Institute, the young women who frequent the Dairen University Center prepared hot food for many people. All of the food was donated by their families and friends. When news about this initiative was transmitted by radio and television, some of the neighbors of Dairen began to take up a food collection to contribute to this service. The young women from Dairen also visited many families in Vargas, after carefully preparing packages of clothing to distribute to them.
Both in the coastal areas affected by the floods and in the shelters in Caracas, women from the Center for Education on Work and the Family, which is attached to the church of the Holy Family of Nazareth, distributed many parcels of food and other necessities, in some cases items they had made themselves.
The Las Palmas University Center organized students and young professional volunteers who prepared meals and made visits to refugee centers. In one of these centers a permanent assistance program has now been established. The young women who frequent the Etame residence also volunteered their services, particularly in regard to clean up work.
The girls of Los Campitos School, run by faithful of Opus Dei, as is the case of the other institutions mentioned above, organized a campaign called “el kilo.” It’s object was to collect food for an organization that was providing help to a group of victims. This organization was initiated by a priest of the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross who works in a coastal area. The girls of Los Campitos also sold candy during a “friendship week” to raise money for this organization.
In all these efforts, one can see a clear reflection of the Christian spirit of the Venezuelans. Rather than giving in to despair or bitterness, the common reaction was one of accepting God’s will and asking for prayers, while doing everything possible to help those in need.
Romana, No. 30, January-June 2000, p. 0.