Esmeralda’s Story, Venezuela
Esmeralda*, 57, lost her father and brother to the armed conflict in Colombia. Years later, her husband was killed for refusing to pay “war taxes” to illegal armed groups. She was forced to leave her country when she was threatened by gunshots while working on her land. She had to leave four of her five children behind, and crossed the border to Venezuela with the youngest one of them, Eva. There, she worked farming land for nine years in precarious conditions.
With the support of host communities in Venezuela, Esmeralda signed up in a cooperative and was the beneficiary of a small house and a job at a sewing workshop. Esmeralda is still working with no formal pay, because of her illegal status in the country, but her co-workers decided to pool a small amount of money at the end of the month so that Esmeralda can get a small salary.
After hearing her story, UNHCR has committed to research her case and help her with the application and process for refugee status. Local integration is a choice for many of the Colombian refugees who arrive in Venezuela.
*The original names and some details of the story have been changed for protection reasons.