An Unimaginable Humanitarian Crisis
Jude, Luis and baby Luis live in Venezuela, a country that is an unimaginable humanitarian crisis.
Venezuela's economy and social order are collapsing, leaving 75 percent of the population desperately poor and without sufficient food. The physical currency, the bolivar, is all but worthless. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the country's inflation could reach 10 million percent this year. Not that there's much to buy: Store shelves stand empty, and soldiers guard warehouses against looters. Most Venezuelans are now protein-deprived, and they joke grimly about the "Maduro diet" that has left adults thin and children malnourished. Hospitals lack medicines and basic supplies, and surgical patients are told to bring their cleaning products and bandages. The murder rate has soared to 15 times the global average, and crime is rampant.There Are Massive Protests
Protests began in earnest in 2014, a year after President Maduro took office, and they have flared up every year since. But the regime has violently crushed these demonstrations. Riot police and armed pro-government gangs known as colectivos routinely bludgeon, tear-gas, and even shoot demonstrators. Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested. Last year, there was much less organized resistance, partly because opposition leaders are exiled or jailed, and partly because Venezuelans are mostly focused on getting food and surviving — or getting out. Citizens Are Fleeing
Since Maduro took office, nearly three million people have emigrated — some 7 percent of the population. And the exodus is continuing. "Considering the magnitude of Venezuela's crisis," says Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, "there may be up to 10 million Venezuelans who will have to abandon that country."Jude and Luis Have Tried To Survive In Place
As a family, Jude and Luis have tried to stay and survive. But now they must join the millions of other refugees who have fled a country where a single chicken is the equivalent of a month's wages.
In better times, Luis aspired to become a chef. He worked on his skills in his family restaurant and had hopes of opening a restaurant. These days, he has offered his restaurant management skills to a local Spanish franchise in his town but has not seen a paycheck yet.
Jude is a university graduate and tutors Spanish online to her English speaking students around the world. She has recently received a scholarship to complete the prestigious DELE certification course. The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (English: Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language), or DELE, are official diplomas issued by the Spanish Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science to participants who have passed a standardized test indicating their European Spanish language proficiency. The diplomas are valid permanently.
Jude's online tutoring services have positioned her as a digital-nomad who can operate her tutoring services anywhere in the world where she can find an internet connection. Luis' culinary skills and knowledge of the world popular Venezuelan cuisine should open opportunities for him wherever they land.The Struggle Just To Leave
Jude and Luis have tried to obtain their passports and the passport of their baby for over a year. In a country drowning in corrupt bureaucracy, they have been shuffled from one official office to another. They were told they could not obtain their passports unless they have been invited to visit a country - a clear violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights treaty of which Venezuela is a signatory.
They hope to obtain their passports in the next few months after a final and potentially dangerous trip to the capital city of Caracas. Jude and Luis want to migrate either to Spain or to Canada. In either country, Luis can quickly put his culinary skills to work, and Jude can continue her online language tutoring business.They Need Your Help
For years each of us has seen the nameless faces of millions of refugees forced to flee their war-torn or impoverished home countries. It is a heartbreaking image. Jude, Luis, and their baby are not nameless to us. Jude's students know her by name, have heard her story, seen her mom, Luis, and even her baby during an online language class. This humanitarian need is something we can do something about. We can help them with the finances they need to leave Venezuela and start a new life in whatever country will accept them. The need is too big for a few friends or their extended family to absorb. It vastly exceeds Jude's and Luis' financial resources.
But together - as a loving group of friends - we can help them escape from Venezuela and start a new life in whatever country will accept them.Reality Hits
There are some basic human needs any family will need that moves to another country with only the clothes on their back. We know with their work ethic and drive, Jude and Luis will eventually succeed and thrive wherever they go. But in addition to transportation costs, there will be other costs that they will have to begin life in a new country. Human dignity requires we do what we can to make sure they can rent a home, obtain and pay for utilities, buy groceries, obtain health insurance, get clothes for themselves, and secure reliable transportation. Imagine starting over… the cost of a dining table and chairs, kitchen utensils, bed sheets, pillows, towels, baby supplies, etc. These expenses can be managed via thrift but will still be significant, they include but are not limited to costs associated with:Please Note:
GoFundMe donations are based on US dollars. If you are donating from outside the US, please use a conversion figure adjusted to your currency. Estimated Costs In US $
Our goal is to raise $14,000 USD to help Jude and Luis. This amount is based on the following estimated costs:
* Emergency Cash Needs: $1,000
* Government Fees: $500
* Air Transportation $1,500
* Auto (where they go) and associated expenses (such as insurance): $4,000
* Communications: $300
* Food/Supplies: $2,000
* Housing/Utilities (for approximately two months): $3,000
* Miscellaneous: $700First Things First: Emergency Cash Needs
This latest crisis has crippled Jude's online business. Because of the lack of reliable electricity and internet, Jude cannot schedule classes with her students. The local curfew closes the streets at 8:30 pm each evening and consequently impacts Luis' ability to work.
Consequently, the first $1,000 of donations will be forwarded to Jude and Luis to help them with their immediate, short-term needs. These funds will help them survive the current chaos that they suffer.Disbursement of Funds
Future funds will be disbursed to Jude on an as required basis. For instance, if she needs funding for Passports and exit taxes (yes, that's a thing in Venezuela), she will be able to receive funds for that.
Additional future funds will be disbursed to Jude and Luis as they make their exit from Venezuela to their destination via Colombia.
It is important to carefully disburse these funds on an as-required basis because the Venezuelan government impounds foreign funds and forcibly converts them into the worthless Venezuelan Bolivar.
Also, you need to know that because of this, GoFundMe does not transfer funds to Venezuela. Because of these facts, we have had to find alternate means to get the funds to Jude and Luis.Regular Updates
As a donor, you will receive updates regarding Jude's family escape from Venezuela and how the funds have been disbursed. Please Note
GoFundMe has a 0% platform fee (which means they don't charge anything for us to share Jude's need with you), but there is a standard credit card fee charged on each dollar donated. This fee varies country to country but is typically 2.9%. This is the same fee that your grocery store, gas station or any other retailer has to pay the credit card companies for the ability to accept credit cards. However, you can donate this cost - if you choose.
Other than GoFundMe's processing fees, you can be assured that your donation will be going to Jude and Luis. Who I am, Where I'm From, How I Know Jude and Luis
I have known Jude and Luis for over two years now. I knew her before she met Luis and had the baby. My wife and I consider Jude like a daughter. We are her patron for her monthly online language tutoring business expenses (her video service and her scheduling service).
I have personally visited them in Colombia. I could not visit them in Venezuela because of visa restrictions. However, I hosted them for several days in Cucuta, Colombia.
I am a retired Naval Commander, having over 23 years of active service, four years of reserve service, and two deployments to Iraq as a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer. I was medically retired with a 100% service-connected disability. I will ensure your funds are used for the purposes stated or I will cancel this fundraiser and have GoFundMe return your donations, minus their processing fees.
GoFundMe has special requirements for those trying to assist those affected by the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. I will ensure this fundraiser abides all of the GoFundMe requirements. Here Is The Warning GoFundMe Gave UsGive Generously And Make A Difference!
Jude, Luis, and their baby are not nameless to us. But they join the millions of other displaced persons around the world. Don't let them disappear into that crowd without having your financial support to help guarantee them a chance at a new life.
How many times have you seen this type of need and wondered how you could help and know that your donation would actually help the persons in need? Here is an opportunity for you to make a vast, life-changing difference for a young family. Please give generously. You can also give as often as you wish while this campaign is active. After you give, please share this need with your friends, co-workers, and relatives and ask them to give something, anything to help Jude, Luis, and their baby. Please Note
: GoFundMe donations are based on US dollars. If you are donating from outside the US, please use a conversion figure adjusted to your currency.