CCA's International Student Program Director, Naomi Peyton, shares how an encounter with a Venezuelan international student sparked an idea to help feed families and save lives.
I believe God brings certain people into my life for a reason. Perhaps some things are merely coincidences, but it seems to me like He is often preparing a path and connecting the right people who are ready to do His will. Abraham Herrera is one of those God-sent people. Abraham is a student who applied to the International Program at Calvary Christian Academy for a gap semester experience, last spring. When we met for his interview, I could have never imagined that the bright young man sitting before me had experienced so much loss and seen so much pain. I didn’t know it at first, but after hearing his story, something was set in motion.
Abraham was born and raised in Venezuela. A country once overflowing with wealth that is now completely falling apart. Venezuelan oil reserves are the largest in the world, but years of mismanagement and government corruption have led to a “downward economic spiral resulting in widespread food shortages, hyperinflation, and mass migration,” says NPR
. With little access to food, people have become desperate, turning on each other. When Abraham was 8 years old, two men with guns broke into his home, gagged him and his mother, and stole everything. His brother was later mugged and shot in the street. “A year after my brother was killed, my step brother was kidnapped,” Abraham said. “[He was taken] to a little town 5 hours from where we lived. It was just like a movie with gangsters and stuff. That’s the things that happen over there [in Venezuela]... we knew then we had to leave the country.”
Parents watch helplessly as their children die from severe malnutrition.
After meeting Abraham, I began investigating the undeclared humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The inflation rate “reached 536.2% in 2017 largely due to the rapid depreciation of the local currency on the black market,” reported Al Jazeera
. Supermarkets can’t afford to import or stock most goods as a result. Even basic food items are astronomically priced. People all over the country cannot afford basic necessities for survival. And though many are aching with hunger, the elderly, expectant mothers, and children are hurting the worst. In April of 2017 the Venezuelan Health Ministry shared unpublished bulletins on their official website stating that “11,446 children under the age of 1 had died in 2016 — a 30 percent increase in one year — as the economic crisis accelerated,” says the New York Times
. The findings were removed from the website shortly after and the government spread claims that the site had been hacked and the reports were false. Mothers don’t have the nutrients to feed their babies and infant formula is scarce or literally impossible to afford. Parents watch helplessly as their children die from severe malnutrition.
As a mother myself, the thought shakes me to the core. As a Christian, I am compelled to do something. Calvary Christian Academy is partnering with 19 Venezuelan pastors and one pediatrician to help save lives, one family at a time. We can’t fix a country, but we can feed people. Our mission is simple: Collect. Pack. Ship. Throughout the months of October, February, and April, we are collecting food, baby supplies, and hygiene products that will be packed and shipped to our partners on the ground.
We can’t fix a country, but we can feed people.
The needs are real and so is our opportunity to help. Download the donations list and drop off items in the labeled collection bins at Calvary Christian Academy. You are also invited to donate $23 to cover the cost of shipping one box. 100% of all funds collected will go toward SOS boxes and shipping costs. The boxes will be shipped to our partnering pastors on the ground who are not only sharing sustenance but shepherding a flock. 1 John 3:17–18 says, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Now that I’ve heard the need, I cannot ignore it. I invite you to to join me in saving lives through SOS Venezuela
Naomi Peyton is the International Student Program Director at Calvary Christian Academy. She has served at CCA since 2000 as a teacher and administrator. Now she recruits Christian students worldwide to study abroad at CCA. She and her husband have two sons.