Laura (psuedonym) is 6 years old, in April of this year; she arrived in Argenitna, together with her grandmother and great-grandmother coming from Venezuela. Her parents and her younger brother, who is only a few months old, stayed in Ecuador due to lack of economic means and because her brother was too little for them to set out all together on a journey that would surely be exhausting and dangerous.

So, they decided that Laura, with her grandmother and great-grandmother would go on ahead. However, life in Ecuador became complicated, and so it was not easy for them either. Like so many that arrive, it is difficult to find housing and work, and they end up surviving in any way they can, facing daily challenges such as how to obtain food. They lived very precariously, and a few months after arriving, they faced another problem; the great-grandmother had a fall that resulted in fractures of the leg and arm, thus aggravating their situation.

Through this, Laura arrived at the Episcopal Commission for Migrants, with her grandmother, who was trying to obtain an identification document for her. On learning of their case, we began to extend several safety nets.

The ACI Human Migration coordinators in Argentina (Constanza di Primio) and Ecuador (Adelaida Albendea) contacted one another, and together with laity from organizations such as Caritas, Puentes de Solidaridad and ACNUR, we began to help them in order to initiate a process of family reunification, which is currently in progress. Thanks to e-mail and whatsapp we are “taking a further step” and weaving a fabric of assistance that permits us to keep track of the road that they are travelling. These are networks that are creating “humanitarian corridors” from Cúlcuta on the Venenzuela-Colombia border to the south of the continent. Having communities in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Boliva, Uruguay Chile and Argentina is a very powerful call for us to strengthen these connections and make the effort to do “all that we can,” often simple actions that, nevertheless, result in a real difference in the life of specific persons and families in extreme situations of poverty, exclusion and vulnerability in the face of human trafficking.

While the family reunification is being resolved, the good news is that her parents and brother, who were living in a situation of extreme vulnerability in Ecuador, earning only $5 (USD) a day selling candy, and even having to pawn their passport for $200 in order to survive, have been welcomed by our Sisters in the School in Quito. And this hospitality had changed everything.

The suffering because of distance and separation of the family is not diminished, but the welcome has changed the quality of the waiting. They are receiving support, merchandises, affection and above all, the opportunity to recover from these truly difficult months before resuming their journey.

“Family reunification is one of the principles of protection of ACNUR in order to guarantee the right of refugees to family life after their forced departure from their country. It is a right recognized by the Geneva Convention and in the Declaration of Human Rights, which recognize the family as the basic unit of society.”

Constanza di primio, aci