Yudith Carmen Calderón Gil, her husband David Calderón, and their four children are a Venezuelan family from the state of Barinas, who came to Colombia in search of food and better living conditions. They have been living in the 20 de Abril sector of El Refugio settlement for about a year.

In Venezuela, Yudith worked as a domestic worker, and her husband as a welder, which enabled them to cover basic necessities, including their children’s educationWhen the economic, social, and political crisis began in Venezuela, David left his job as a welder to work on rural cattle ranches. Eventually, however, he and his family were forced to migrate to Colombia and ended up settling in El Refugio.

The Calderón family poses with plants from their garden.

When they first arrived at the settlement, the family experienced discrimination and distrust on the part of some community members. Additionally, they did not have legal documents which meant they could not access health services or send their children to school. David started to scrape together some money for the family through recycling trash, something he had never done before.

Emergency Response in Arauca Program Provides WASH Training & Food Security to Migrant Families

Enter the USAID OFDA-funded Emergency Response in Arauca program, which included the Calderón family in the program after a profiling survey, registering Yudith as head of the householdThe family has since taken part in ERA’s induction and training workshops for the program’s WASH, food security, and protection components. The family says they have experienced positive changes in their lives as a result of the program. 

To begin with, they say that for the first time, they feel like they matter and they are being treated with respect and dignity, which for them is an essential step toward regaining hope and self-confidence. With the knowledge and support they have gained through the WASH component of the program, the Calderón family has re-organized their living space – they now have a separate area for cooking, one for sleeping, a space to store the recycling material, and a latrine area.  

Through the protection workshops and psychosocial supportthe Calderóns say they have improved family relationships and have begun to improve relationships with their neighbors through better dialogue. 

 Finally, thanks to the program’s food security training, David, Yudith, and their children have started to grow their own food. They started planting vegetables to share with their neighbors, even before receiving tools and implements from the program. This has also helped to improve the relationship with community members, who now treat them with greater respect. 

Learn more about the Emergency Response in Arauca program here.

Learn more about our other projects in Colombia here.