4th May 2020
Samaritan’s Purse is providing primary medical care as well as hygiene training to migrant communities along the Colombia-Venezuela border in an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are offering this relief through our local team of doctors, nurses, and a pharmacist, in coordination with the International Organisation for Migration.
Our mobile medical brigade is helping communities in the border province of Norte de Santander, including areas within Cucuta, La Parada, and Puerto Santander, to guard against the spread of the global pandemic. Our team is also instructing migrant families on proper hygiene—using available handwashing stations—and training the community on COVID-19 prevention, including social distancing guidelines and how to identify virus symptoms.
To date, our team has trained 260 people within the Yukpa community on health and hygiene precautions as well as 169 people from other medical brigades within Norte de Santander. In addition, we’re working in conjunction with Colombia’s Department of Health and the United Nations to provide health risk analysis along the border.
“We have a team that’s doing all this, serving in the Name of Jesus, for those being affected by this crisis,” said Eric Huxley, Samaritan’s Purse country director in Colombia.
The Yukpa, a tribe indigenous to Venezuela, make up one of the migrant communities in Colombia where we have focused our assistance.
In one camp, they are living in close quarters with no running water or bathroom facilities. We are providing general medical care and COVID-19 prevention training as we work with community leaders on other initiatives to continue improving conditions within the camp. We recently provided 34 water filters to Yukpa families.
Our teams in the area also distributed nearly 13,700 food packages to families in need during this difficult time, helping to feed almost 57,000 people.
These food parcels can feed a family of five for two weeks and help them while they are in self-isolation and unable to work or travel within the country, said Kevin White, food program manager for Samaritan’s Purse in Colombia.
“This provides the hope that there is something more than what is happening around them,” he said, “that they know that there is a God and that God loves them and cares for them.”
The general medical care we are providing to migrant communities along the border includes treating people for ailments not related to COVID-19.
One of our patients was a pastor within a Yukpa community who had severe stomach pain that prevented him from being able to eat or sleep. He thanked Samaritan’s Purse for medicine that has improved his condition and enabled him to sleep well. He also expressed appreciation for helping people in his community, giving glory to God.
“The doctors and nurses, they care about us and treat us well,” he said. “The Lord is the One doing this, and I told our community that we have to give thanks to God first.”
While a member of our Colombia staff was visiting and praying with the pastor in his community, a young man called out to him from a distance. The man had spotted him from the opening of his tent in a migrant camp and recognized him from a worship service that had been held in the community.
Although asymptomatic, the 33-year-old was in quarantine because he tested positive for COVID-19. He had recently been in contact with someone suspected to have died from COVID-19 symptoms.
The man asked for a Bible. He said that as he was praying the night before, God filled him with peace despite his circumstances. He wanted a Bible to help him get through the time spent in self-isolation.
The Samaritan’s Purse staff member returned later that day to not only give the man a Bible but also to share encouragement from God’s Word with him and his family. Our medical team is providing health guidance to his wife and children regarding self-isolation, social distancing, and hygiene practices to help prevent the spread of the virus.
God is using the man’s time in self-quarantine to draw him to His Word. He listens intently to nightly messages from God’s Word that he can hear within earshot as the local pastor gives the hope of the Gospel to the community. We praise the Lord for how He is intervening with His mercy and goodness in this young man’s life.
Please pray for our staff in Colombia as they meet medical needs and give hygiene training, as well as provide food and water assistance in Jesus’ Name. Pray for the Yukpa and other migrant communities as life along the border becomes more challenging in light of the pandemic.
Note: For the past two years, Samaritan’s Purse has provided shelter, health care, food assistance, and trafficking prevention training along migrant trails in Colombia. Well more than 1 million Venezuelans have fled into Colombia to escape dire circumstances in their own country.