TodoSomos Monthly Report UN Community -- Refugee Testimonies and Analysis

Colleagues,

Attached you will find a Spanish and English version of a short report from TodoSomos — a small NGO that has been collecting hand written testimonies from refugees/caminantes near the border with Venezuela. It is a summary of the stories and lives of more than 150 that have recently passed through Donjuana refugio (May to July of 2021). This sampling and analysis we believe reflects the experience and challenges faced by the more than 10,000 that passed this way in this period. We have included in this report a section with the most striking phrase from each testimony. Completing this work leaves one with an understanding of the experience, the challenge, and hope for the future. It also leaves one with the hope that the global community will find a way to address the underlying reasons behind this crisis — 2 million Venezuelans displaced and living in Colombia and more than 6 million in the global diaspora.

I would offer a special thanks to all of those that have made this work possible — those working day to day in Donjuana and the other points of service and assistance throughout South America and to our team of volunteers who have put in their time and hearts to listen, write, transcribe, translate and edit. A special thanks for our chief editor Antonio José Díez Jiménez.

Douglas Lyon MD
Board President TodoSomos

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¿Qué Pasa Venezuela?

As a United States-based non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Colombia, TodoSomos will, through the collection of first person handwritten testimonials by Venezuelan refugees,  create an archive of individuals’ and families’ stories in this crisis – the  exodus and their experience as part of the Venezuelan diáspora.  

The TodoSomos archive will be available to everyone – journalists, aid agencies, donors, researchers, government and United Nations officials, and the general public. On a periodic basis TodoSomos will select, transcribe and translate a selection of the writings that reflect the greater body of work. These selections will be published in bilingual books which will be distributed in print form throughout the Americas and in a digital format online.

Together with population based data, this will shine light on the Venezuelan crisis in a way that will better engage the attention of the global community and in turn  help to insure the needs and voice of ordinary Venezuelans are heard and that they are louder than politicians and powerful special interests. It is our goal to make these voices part of Venezuela’s – indeed, the world’s – historical record.

Our methodology will ensure that those that choose to write will understand our respect for anonymity, the value of handwritten testimony, and the greater purpose of our work in advocacy and creation of a permanent archive.  

This work is important. As of October 2019 the UN estimates that more than 4.5 million Venezuelans have left their country. The majority have crossed on foot through a high Andean mountain pass (3,900m) near Cucuta in Colombia.   Today more than 10,000 Venezuelans make this crossing each month.

As a United States-based non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Colombia, TodoSomos will, through the collection of first person handwritten testimonials by Venezuelan refugees,  create an archive of individuals’ and families’ stories in this crisis – the  exodus and their experience as part of the Venezuelan diáspora.  

The TodoSomos archive will be available to everyone – journalists, aid agencies, donors, researchers, government and United Nations officials, and the general public. On a periodic basis TodoSomos will select, transcribe and translate a selection of the writings that reflect the greater body of work. These selections will be published in bilingual books which will be distributed in print form throughout the Americas and in a digital format online.

Together with population based data, this will shine light on the Venezuelan crisis in a way that will better engage the attention of the global community and in turn  help to insure the needs and voice of ordinary Venezuelans are heard and that they are louder than politicians and powerful special interests. It is our goal to make these voices part of Venezuela’s – indeed, the world’s – historical record.

Our methodology will ensure that those that choose to write will understand our respect for anonymity, the value of handwritten testimony, and the greater purpose of our work in advocacy and creation of a permanent archive.  

This work is important. As of October 2019 the UN estimates that more than 4.5 million Venezuelans have left their country. The majority have crossed on foot through a high Andean mountain pass (3,900m) near Cucuta in Colombia.   Today more than 10,000 Venezuelans make this crossing each month.

You can support TodoSomos by donating here:

Observations from the story collectors

We started our first book in a refuge in Pamplona …

There night after night
We have been overwhelmed by silence when we ask for your help,
We have been moved by the written words of him,
We have seen each other
We have seen them
when they looked for us and looked us in the eye
taking the hand firmly and saying:
Thanks…
Someone has to know, someone must listen to us …