My name is Melissa Richardson, and my husband Troy and I live in Utah, USA.
Almost 20 years ago, my husband Troy met Richard and Yenny Diaz while serving a religious mission in Venezuela. The young family was soon baptized and deep friendships formed, which have lasted over the decades and the miles between us. Troy's favorite stories of Richard are of his incredible service and generosity to missionaries, members of his congregation, and the people in his community.
Now Richard and Jenny need our help.
As the economic and governmental state of Venezuela has declined, all Venezuelan citizens have experienced decreased access to basic necessities. There is no medicine in the country, no access to health care, and very little food, hygiene items, clothing or other things we take for granted every day.
Until recently, the Diaz family had been able to stay afloat. As a member of the Stake Presidency (Latter-day Saint Clergy position) in his area, Richard has organized relief efforts for people in his community less fortunate than him, and Troy and I have been helping get much-needed supplies for them to distribute to church members and neighbors. Some of you have donated to this cause (Thank you!!!).
(above photos of community members receiving donations)
But since the most recent "election" the situation grows more desperate every day. Neighboring countries are overrun with Venezuelan refugees, and violence is increasing everywhere.
The Diaz family needs to get out, and Spain is their best option.
1. South American countries still accepting refugees do not permit them to work or provide a realistic path for survival.
2. The Venezuelan government has made it impossible to get Visas from within the country. Spain (unlike the U.S.) gives visas upon arrival instead of in advance.
3. Spain offers asylum to Venezuelan refugees and programs that allow them to work immediately upon approval of asylum status.
4. They have friends and contacts in Spain already working to help them jump through the necessary paperwork and legal hoops.
5. Access to medical care needed to keep Jenny's cancer in remission.
(An example of Anti-Venezuelan propaganda in even the most friendly South American countries. The full poster reads "Peru, Unite in the campaign #Don'tBuyVenezuelan. Don't rent them your homes, Don't buy their products, Don't give them work. Every Venezuelan you support invites 10 more to our country." )
**UPDATED 9/16/18** Travel Plans/Breakdown of Funds:
(For Richard, Jenny, her mother, and 2 youngest children)
1. Bus from Carupano to Caracas (arrive 10/16) = Diaz Family Savings
2. Sleep accommodations in Caracas: 2 days = Stay with Family
3. Taxi to airport = $50
2.Flights from Caracas, Venezuela* to Asturias, Spain = $5,500 (PURCHASED! Thank you flight sponsors!)
2. Stay Justification (Required $900/person to approve = $4500
Tourist Visa to Spain)
3. Hotel in Madrid during visa approval process (2 days)=$300 (PURCHASED! Thank you hotel sponsor!)
4. Estimated food/misc. travel expenses = $300
Total = $10,660 (approx**)
*Given recent violence at the Columbian border, and the 3-day line they would have to wait in to cross, we have decided it will be less dangerous to fly out of Caracas directly.
**Prices/values are approximate and may fluctuate at various stages of the journey (i.e. flights, paperwork processing fees, etc.) and will be updated as soon as prices are locked in.
Disbursement of funds:
Richard and Jenny do not currently have access to their own bank account, as Venezuelan banks are not allowed to give withdrawals of more than a few dollars every day. Richard currently stands in line at the bank for up to 5 hours every day to withdraw what little he can. In the past we have used his brother-in-law in Miami (Fernando Ortega) to deliver money to him for community relief projects or purchase necessary goods in their behalf by depositing money into his account. Every penny has always been accounted for. We will use his generosity again for this project.
Fernando has purchased plane tickets for the family (thanks to very generous flight sponsors) and reserved the hotel needed for their arrival. Richard Diaz has access to his account also, and the family will have direct access to the funds once they are out of Venezuela. The portion of funds needed for Stay Justification and acquiring their travel visas will be withdrawn at that point.
We are very grateful to Fernando, he has agreed to do everything necessary to get funds to the family, even traveling to meet them on his own dollar if necessary to make sure there are no problems.
The Good News:
Miracles have already happened to help the Diaz family get the papers they need to flee the country and enter Spain legally. We have also found a few donors who will pitch in for some of the bigger expenses.
Every little bit helps!!!
Two of the older Diaz children will stay behind, a married son and his wife, and a daughter currently serving a religious mission in Venezuela. The sooner we can get Richard and his wife to Spain, the sooner he can begin working to support the rest of his family and hopefully bring them to Spain as well.
Please help be the answer to our fasting and prayers for this beautiful family who has given so much to others.
Without our help, the probability of survival for these sweet children, along with their cancer-survivor mother is not promising.
If you can't donate dollars, we'll take pennies! If you can't donate pennies, pass along this GoFundMe to everyone you know.
Thank you for your help!
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