Lutheran Church in Colombia is serving Venezuelan migrants in midst of the Coronavirus crisis

Rosa with her daughter and granddaughter. Photo: LWF Waking the Giant Colombia / Eduardo Martinez

Waking the Giant Colombia

Rosa’s life take place in a little room shared with her daughter and her granddaughter somewhere in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. Rosa’s daughter had a job at a restaurant in a mall, her salary was the only income to cover their living costs. But now, due to the Coronavirus, the restaurant is closed and there is no longer any money to provide for the daily needs of this family. 

It is true that we have all been affected by the Coronavirus crisis, which has taken on global dimensions, but Venezuelan migrants who have found refuge in Colombia are really living in a complex and vulnerable situation. The migrants don’t have a social or family network to support them like the Colombians have. For the Venezuelans, finding food, health care or even a place to shelter from the cold weather in Bogota is a big challenge. 

More than one million,825 thousand Venezuelans may be living in Colombia, according to “Migración Colombia” the official government entity in charge of migrant affairs. 

Like the situation in many parts of the world, the majority of the Venezuelans (an estimated 56%) come to Colombia in an irregular way. They don’t have the documentation they need to get a formal job or access some of the services that are offered by the Colombian government. Most of them take to the streets for survival, appealing to people’s solidarity or working in informal activities, which are almost impossible to do nowadays due to the lack of mobility to avoid the Coronavirus contagion. 

In the context of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which work towards ending hunger in the world, as well as promoting healthy lives and well-being for all people, the Coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the weakness of our economic system as well as our health systems. The governments of countries which are considered developed, as well as the so-called developing countries, have huge challenges to overcome the current crisis, whose effects will continue to be seen over the coming months. 

The negative effects of the crisis are particularly dramatics for people living in the most vulnerable conditions, such as migrants. These few weeks of economic inactivity in Colombia have demonstrated in a clearer way the weak capacity of the government to take care of these groups of people. In this context, the humanitarian action and pastoral care of churches is crucial in caring for the migrants and other groups who are surviving in precarious conditions. 

The Lutheran Church in Colombia, in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), offers support to Venezuelan migrants coming to the south of Bogota city. The Humanitarian Assistance Center for Venezuelan Migrant offers psycho-social care, food, skills training and legal guidance. Rosa and her family have found an oasis in this Lutheran church Center where they can find strength to survive the crisis. Their story is one among many others which encourage us to continue serving the most needy people in the current circumstances. 


By Eduardo Martinez 

National Coordinator – Waking the Giant Colombia