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Carmen at the Carits reception centre Carmen at the Carits reception centre  Stories

Migrating across Amazonia: Carmen’s story

Thousands of people cross the Amazon rainforest every day, leaving their home behind them in search of a better future. Many of them are from Venezuela. They set their sights on Ecuador, where migration reception policies are among the most liberal in Latin America. This is the story of one of them, Carmen, who left Venezuela with her baby son.

Mario Galgano - Quito

Caritas Ecuador first opened the door to Carmen and her child. Situated on the outskirts of Quito, in the north-west of Amazonia, Caritas has created a refugee reception center that can accommodate about 40 people. The peculiarity of this center is that the refugees can stay there for a maximum of three days, just long enough to arrange the documents of entry and stay. The reception policy in Ecuador is so efficient that it usually takes just a few days for refugees to have the papers necessary to find housing and employment.

Venezuela to Ecuador via Colombia

This is how Carmen tells her story: "I ran away for economic reasons. I lived in Venezuela with my three children and my brother. We left Cúcuta and walked for 17 days, mainly through Colombia. Everyone helped me along the way. We were stuck at the Colombian border for 19 days because we did not have an entry visa and they would not let us through. So we decided to continue our journey through the forest in order to get to Ecuador. When we arrived here at the reception center, I did not know it was a place for refugees. A woman knew about our journey. Like an angel sent by God, she found us in a park where we were staying, and helped contact this center. Thanks to her, this is where we are here now”.

Carmen with her child
Carmen with her child

Hopes and nostalgia

Carmen does not like to talk about politics. She is not particularly interested in the subject. The only thing she wants, and hopes for, is to be able to return to her country as soon as possible. In the meantime, she is very grateful for the support given by Ecuadorians to the refugees:

"You cannot imagine the suffering during the journey. It was the child I was carrying in my arms, and the other two beside me, that encouraged me to go on. But it was very hard. There were times when I would have liked to go back, like the night when my child had a fever. My home is in Venezuela, but thank God, we have a place we can stay and we have food. And thank God there are people who help and support us”.

Carmen’s parents are dead, but she has many friends in Venezuela. She feels great nostalgia for her home and for all those she loves. But she has the serenity to see her experience as a new opportunity for her and her children, even for the youngest who still does not understand what is happening around him:

"He doesn't know how wonderful it is to be in your own home, among your own people, to live in peace. And even if I'm here with some relatives abroad, I miss my country very much too”.

06 November 2019, 12:25