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Rising From the Ashes

  • February 2, 2023
  • colombia, medical aid
  • Americares Psychologist Jhon Jairo speaks with Claudia, a patient at an Americares clinic in Colombia.
Staff Writers

Staff Writers

Americares Staff

Ana María Ariza, Americares Coordinadora de Comunicaciones, Colombia, shares Claudia’s story of loss, courage and the road forward from Venezuela to Colombia.

*Name has been changed

Claudia*, 40, often reminisces about her life in Venezuela, where she once owned her own ceramics business and dreamed of building a happy and prosperous life for herself and her four children. Sadly, her dream was shattered as the country spiraled into chaos due to the dire economic situation, ongoing political instability and lack of food, medicine and essential services.

With no end in sight to the mounting humanitarian crisis, Claudia and her husband made the difficult decision to move to Colombia in search of a better life. They migrated in 2018 with their two youngest children, leaving their two oldest with Claudia’s mother in Venezuela.

Life in Colombia was still challenging, they quickly ran out of funds and were forced to beg for food and sleep on the streets. When a relative offered them a place to stay, they accepted. In this new environment, Claudia’s husband grew jealous and became physically and verbally abusive. After a particularly violent evening where the attacks grew so brutal that they threatened her life, she was forced to make yet another difficult decision. She took her two children and fled to safety.

Looking back on the incident, Claudia recalls how her children screamed and cried when they saw their father physically and verbally abuse her. “I am aware that my kids need psychological attention to overcome the abuse. They experienced a strong post-traumatic stress and both of them constantly mentioned the violent scenes on behalf of their father between whispers and tears,” she said.

During the process to rebuild her life away from the abuse, Claudia got a job at a bakery and found support at a women’s shelter for survivors of gender-based violence. At the shelter, she learned about Americares and its work providing lifesaving health services and access to medicines for families fleeing the unprecedented humanitarian emergency in Venezuela.

The organization currently operates 10 primary care clinics in 10 departments that provide quality primary care, including medical exams, mental health services and medication at no cost for Venezuelan migrants, Colombian returnees and host communities, six days a week.

Staff member in mask and blue scrubs working with patient who is back to the camera.
Americares Psychologist Jhon Jairo speaks with Claudia at an Americares clinic in Colombia.

Thanks to Americares and its psychologist Jhon Jairo, Claudia and her children began to receive psychological care. “During the sessions with Jhon Jairo my daughter and son colour, draw, play with puppets and express themselves freely,” said Claudia. With Jhon Jairo’s support, Claudia and her kids have started to heal the wounds of the trauma they experienced. “Once Jhon Jairo came into our lives, my children’s behaviour improved remarkably, and I immediately saw positive results,” said Claudia. They stopped mentioning the memories of the abuse that the three of us suffered. They quickly became attached to the psychologist and constantly ask me to go to the sessions to continue with the treatment.”

Claudia and her children have continued to receive psychological care at an Americares clinic and have made significant progress in improving their mental health. Claudia has a strong message to others experiencing gender-based violence,

“Be brave, do not let yourself be manipulated by your abuser, that is not love. My family and I have been raised from the ashes of abuse.”

If you have experienced abuse and need help in Colombia, dial 155. To access a list of global helplines please visit the UNWomen’s Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence Against Women and Girls at:

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