“The coronavirus has hit us very hard”

Sara and Daniel, a couple of migrant adolescents from Venezuela in Ecuador

Marisol Quintero
22 May 2020
© UNICEF_UNI114803_Sebastian
© UNICEF/UNI114803/Sebastian

Sara and Daniel, a couple of teenagers who are 16 and 17 years old, left Venezuela because of the difficult economic situation and violence they were experiencing. During the journey, Sara became pregnant and gave birth when she arrived in Ecuador. Through collaboration with UNICEF, the NGO HIAS provided the couple with psychological attention, financial support and social, labor and legal guidance focused on children at risk. Because of the coronavirus, Sara and Daniel are unemployed in Ecuador and are worried about the future of their baby.

Sara’s letter to her dad:

Hi Daddy, how are you?

I am learning my role as a mother every day. Sofia is already five months old and is growing healthy despite the circumstances. For me, I’m so proud of being a mom because I am raising a sweetheart that fills my heart. She looks like her dad. I know that Daniel and I are too young to be parents, we’re still a year away from legal age of consent, but you know really well what made us get out of there. We could no longer bear the economic situation in Venezuela and especially the insecurity in the neighborhood where we lived. We didn’t want to wait for things to get worse and to be in more danger. But the baby’s arrival has given us one more reason to continue fighting for our future.

I don’t want you to worry about us, but I can’t deny that we’ve really had it rough since we left Venezuela and then reaching Cuenca, in Ecuador, where we now live. We spent many days walking; we practically crossed all Colombia on foot, not to mention the sores on our feet. Just a couple of weeks before arriving in Ecuador I started to feel sick; I was vomiting, I had nausea and also trouble walking. I just wanted to sleep. That’s when I realized I was pregnant. But, I do not regret it and I do want to return to Venezuela, but not now.

As soon as we arrived in Ecuador, Daniel effortlessly worked as hard as he could, from 5:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night. He has done his best – picking coffee, collecting auyamas and he has even been a waiter in a restaurant. They didn't pay much, but it wasn't so bad until...

Suddenly the coronavirus arrived and all the businesses and restaurants closed. Since then, the pandemic has hit us very hard. Daniel lost his job overnight and could no longer have any income and we are in lockdown taking care of the baby. We’re worried that one of us will get sick.

For now, we’re living on the monthly support that the HIAS organization gives us. We haven’ been hungry and we live in a room that has a bed and a crib for the baby.

That’s enough for now, while our situation improves. We’ve got food and we’re managing with the clothes we brought in our two suitcases, for now. What we need is money to buy more diapers for the baby.

Here I can study because I’m allowed, but I did not want to start up again because I have to take care of the baby. Daniel isn’t studying either. His biggest concern now is getting a job again, we have to pay the rent and buy the things the baby needs. We want to live well and have enough money to be able to return to when we can.

My dream is to go back and have a good life, that Venezuela gets better and there’s no violence and it’s a happy environment for my baby. I would like to start a family and be a professional.

Remember that ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to be an official military of the Navy and Daniel dreams of being a construction engineer. I hope that we both succeed one day.

I don’t think I had told you that thanks to an organization called HIAS we were able to settle in Cuenca. Thanks to them, we are fine. They give us monthly support and we’ll be able to hold on a little longer until the pandemic ends. Without Daniel’s income, it hardly lasts.

Last month Daniel turned 17 and the hardest thing for him was celebrating it away from his family. I will also have to celebrate mine away from you and mom way in November. That makes me sad. Sometimes I ’ve cried and I’m distressed by the coronavirus. But when I think about the baby and what I have to do for her as a mother, I give myself strength to keep going. And for a few minutes, I forget about my sorrows and the coronavirus.