By Arianne Orola from Filipina Passport
I am writing this post because I’ve been reflecting about this a lot in the last few days.
I am currently in Santa Marta in Colombia, and it is only around 200 Km away from the border of Venezuela.
Maybe you have heard about the crisis that is happening there at the moment, with hundreds and thousands of people trying to flee to survive. I see a lot of them here in Santa Marta, selling candies and souvenirs on the streets and it really breaks my heart.
A few years ago, these people were just like us, some of them used to have good lives, up until their economy fell. I don’t really know what to say, and I know I can’t really save the world, but in my own little ways, I tried to support their trinkets and candies business to help them get by. But more importantly, I guess I am posting this to bring awareness.
Two days ago, when I was on the queue to buy gelato, a boy who is about the age of my nephew approached me (he was around 12). He was selling candy but instead of asking me to buy candy, he just stared at the ice cream. He was very shy but he politely asked me if he could have one as well, which I said ‘of course yes’. Another tourist saw what I did, and decided he would like to buy ice cream for the other kids on the street! In the end, everybody was happy!
The boy sat next to me and asked me where I was from, and I told him ‘Philippines’. I was surprised that he had some knowledge about it. He said it was in Asia, close to China. He said he learned it all from school in Venezuela. This is when the reality hit me hard, damn, this child was actually brought up from a good home and was given education.
They are in this unfortunate situation because they don’t really have a choice. It is easy to look down and ignore people when they are homeless and dirty, but what we don’t realize is that some things happen and it is out of their control. This could happen to any of us, that boy could be your son, or nephew, or your little brother. So let us try to be more understanding.
Anyway, when I left, the boy said goodbye and thanked me.
So here is what my post is about. Travelling is not only about the beautiful beaches and landscapes, and that picture perfect IG shot. Let’s make traveling about humanity as well, let’s raise awareness and spread a little kindness whenever we encounter situations like this.
I know we cannot solve all their problems, but you know, you can offer a hand for them to stand again.
Just in case you encounter them in your travels, please don’t walk past them or just wave your hand to shoo them away like they don’t matter. Support them if you can, buy a candy or a trinket, or put a roof on their heads for a day. If you do not have the money, it won’t hurt to chat with them to give some moral support.
The refugees are going through a transition and are trying to rebuild their lives again. They need love and care.
Of course, you have to be cautious too, don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation, please.
I have to say, I have so much respect for the Colombians, I can see that they are really making an effort to help the migrants. I see some booths feeding the hungry one. This country will be even more blessed!
So that’s my lengthy post, thanks for bearing with me. Spread the love this Christmas season. ❤️
*Thank you Arianne for sharing this powerful experience with all of us*