Food or medicine. That is the dilemma faced by thousands of older adults in Venezuela, since the pension they receive is just a few dollars a month, it is not enough to cover both needs. This situation has made the elderly a focus of attention for those who distribute humanitarian aid.
They are not protagonists of large demonstrations, but that does not imply that there are no complaints. For many, the loss of purchasing power has meant a moral and economic blow, as a result of hyperinflation that led the country to a serious crisis. They did not imagine having to choose between two essential options.
They are people who, in the past, did specializations, masters or doctorates in universities abroad, who had a comfortable standard of living and who hoped to have a quiet old age, but today they must seek help or accept to receive it in order to fight their diseases or feed themselves. According to the NGO Convite, which promotes social rights, 86.9% of the elderly in Venezuela live in poverty.
Some express their need and others just look at them to realize that they are in a precarious situation.
A sample: the teachers
An example is the retired professors of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV). Before this institution, the Social Protection Management of the Instituto de Previsión del Profesorado de la alma mater has identified 100 teachers in a vulnerable condition, some without family support due to different circumstances, among which the migratory crisis stands out, because while the youngest are they leave, the grandparents are left behind.
These 100 people were located thanks to a survey prepared with the support of nutritionists and researchers, and sent to the teaching population of the UCV, which is approximately eight thousand and of which only 10% responded.
The survey was carried out with one purpose: to provide food support to these people who, as explained by the Manager of Social Protection of the Institute for the Prevision of Teachers, Manuel García, present conditions of malnutrition.
In principle, food was collected spontaneously, to help in 2019 a teacher who later passed away. García points out that his conditions of malnutrition accelerated his death.
“They have no help at all”
However, when observing in the corridors more retired teachers, they realized that some of them were losing weight, the survey was carried out and the initiative began to take shape until reaching these 100 beneficiaries between 70 and 90 years old.
“It is a totally vulnerable population; there will be those who can reinvent themselves, there will be those who send them remittances, but these 100 that I have, no. They don’t have help, “said Garcia, who said that 14 of them are in a more delicate condition because they have terminal illnesses or are” bedridden. ”
These 14 must take food to their homes, while the rest go to the headquarters of the Social Protection Management to remove the bag of food.
“In general, small packages are made with the advice of the nutritionist and nutritionist. Depending on the amount of donations, two rice are placed, two grains are placed, a can of protein, sometimes they donate sauce, chocolate, coffee, casabe (crusty bread) ”, he explained.
Donations come from younger teachers, graduates and people who have expressed their solidarity At the request of help from the anthropologist Nashla Báez, a member of the NGO Brigadas Azules, who has also supported another group of teachers with 39 insulin treatments.
Medical and psychosocial assistance
And precisely with treatment and medical assistance the NGO Convite helps, but its work is aimed at a population of six thousand older adults distributed in six states of Venezuela.
There are six thousand grandparents alone or with family help, among which the indigenous population is also included.
The NGO receives support from the UN Humanitarian Response plan and executes a health project that will run until May 2022 to provide oral, gynecological, visual and psychosocial care services, because the elderly are also experiencing the feeling of loneliness .
In this last area, Convite trains older adults so that they are the ones who can attend to their peers who require some help.
“You talk to them a lot, you have to talk to them a lot because sometimes they get depressed, sometimes they are happy (…) then you try to talk to them, to support them,” says Nuvia Moreno, 67, a psychosocial collaborator at Convite and at the same time beneficiary time of the health program.
The situation of the grandparents is just another example of how the demand for humanitarian aid is growing in Venezuela.
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