Things That Matter

A Nurse Stepped Up To Help After This Photo Drew Attention To The Humanitarian Crisis In Venezuela

El Nuevo Herald

When an image of a malnourished Venezuelan child was shown in a New York Times article, there was an immediate reaction. The image made headlines across the internet. Whether it was the visual representation of the humanitarian crisis happening in Venezuela or the sheer shock of a starving child, it got people’s attention. Specifically, Fabiola Molero, a nurse within a Roman Catholic aid group, Caritas.

This image highlighted the reality of what’s happening in Venezuela as food prices have doubled and hunger has become a major issue for many.

Anailin Nava is just two years old and was suffering from severe malnutrition due to lack of food and medicine. Making things worse was Nava having a genetic neurological disease, which causes convulsions and muscular problems.

Her ailments make eating and digesting a difficult task for the young child. Her family can’t afford to feed her more than once a day and, when they do, it is rice or cornmeal.

The image was enough to convince Molero to make the journey to the western city of Maracaibo to Toas Island, where Nava lives. Molero, who had been a nurse for the past 20 years, quit three years ago and became a volunteer with Caritas. She did this so she could help people like situations like Nava’s and fight the hunger epidemic that’s devastating Venezuela.

“I worked in a hospital and quit because I couldn’t handle the fact that children were dying in my arms for lack of food,” Molero told the New York Times.

So she packed nutritional supplements like milk and food and hitchhiked from the western city of Maracaibo to Toas. She set off with a mission to help the young girl and others just like her in the community.

The state of Zulia, which Toas is part of, has seen some of the worst effects of the country’s economic fall.

The island is at a huge disadvantage when it comes to resources like food and aid. It’s also been practically removed from the mainland after boats that were used as public transport broke down recently.

According to Anailin’s mother, Maibeli, the little aid that comes by from the government arrives every five months. Yet, that doesn’t last very long as they are consumed by families in less than a week.

This has been the result of unsustainable inflation the country has seen recently that has seen food prices double. Nine out of 10 Venezuelans do not feel they have sufficient resources to buy food which has left many people like Nava malnourished.

Since Molero has arrived, she’s helped Nava and other children in the neighborhood with basic nutrients and food.

“My baby had deteriorated and was in a very bad state,” Maibeli who is 25, told the New York Times. “I thought my daughter was going to die. She didn’t even give me her hand when I tried playing with her.”

Maibeli says that the nurses help made an immediate difference to her daughter’s health. But there are still concerns for her and other young children on the island that face similar situations.

Out of 26 children examined by Molero, 10 weren’t eating enough. Almost all of had blisters and abscesses in their skin most likely caused by poor water conditions.

The image provoked an immediate response from people around the world wanting to help Venezuela.

The image, which first appeared in the New York Times on May 17th, prompted a wide response from people wanting to help.

One user said, “how can I help 2-year-old Anailin Nava?”. Another asked, “there any way to help Maibeli Nava and her daughter Anailin?”

While other volunteers are expected to come to Toas, there is still a need for more help. Basic items for babies like milk are of necessity, as well as gasoline to help deliver the food.

“The condition of our children gets worse every day,” Molero said. “We’re working by the strength of our nails here because we barely have any resources.”

Read: This Graphic Image Of A Venezuelan Mother Carrying Her Daughter’s Dead Body To A Morgue Amidst The Country’s Massive Blackout Has Social Media Users Heartbroken

Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

Entertainment

Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

lillibros.com

Lil’ Libros has been gifting Latino parents the gift of a single children’s book read in two languages to promote bilingualism in Latino niños around the world. The stories are all about Latino icons that have shaped and defined our culture throughout history, honoring stories like Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Cuban music legend, Celia Cruz. With nearly 20 books in the collection so far, we thought Lil’ Libros couldn’t get any cuter or more relevant until it added the story of Ricardo “Ritchie” Valenzuela in “The Life of / La Vida de: Ritchie.”

The children’s book will cover all the highlights of Ritchie’s life.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

“Born May 13, 1941, Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist,” reads the book description. “His musical journey began at age 5 when his father encouraged him to take up guitar. In high school, he made his performing debut with the band The Silhouettes. At 17, Ritchie recorded his final record, which included classics like “Donna” and “La Bamba”. That record went on to sell over one million copies. To this day, Ritchie  Valens’ music lives on in the hearts of many!”

Ritchie followed his passions, and they became a gift to the music world.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

Ritchie is considered the father of the Chicano rock movement. He was the son of two Mexican immigrants, born in the Los Angeles valley as Richard Steven Valenzuela. Even though Ritchie was left-handed, he taught himself how to play the guitar, trumpet, and drums, and was so in love with music, he learned it all with a dominant right hand. He was always bringing his guitar to his high school to play for his friends. By the time he was 16 years old, he was invited to join The Silhouettes, and eventually became the lead singer. He only released two records during his lifetime, and is best known for “La Bamba.” He’s also known for being the first Latino to successfully cross over into the U.S. mainstream rock genre, inspiring Selena, Café Tacuba, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, and even Carlos Santana to fuse Latinidad with rock.

We *doubt* they’ll include that Ritchie dropped out of high school.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

He became a raging success with the release of his first and only three records and dropped out of school to keep up with his career. Ritchie actually didn’t know any Spanish, and his family only spoke English and Spanglish in their house. He learned to sing “La Bamba” in Spanish by learning the song phonetically. Just this year, The U.S. Library of Congress selected “La Bamba” to be preserved in the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

Or Ritchie’s tragic death by a plane crash at just 17 years old.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

Ritchie had a fear of flying that he eventually overcome throughout his short-lived music career. His fear started during the second term of his junior year in high school. Two airplanes collided over the school’s playground on January 31, 1957, killing and injuring several of his friends. It all happened while Ritchie was at his abuelo’s funeral. His first flight was to Philadelphia to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand show, where he performed “Come On, Let’s Go.” The following month, he was flying to Hawaii to perform with Buddy Holly and Paul Anka.

Ritchie won a coin toss that fateful February 2, 1959 winter day in Iowa that won him a spot on a small plane that would later crash and kill everyone on the plane. His band had been traveling by tour bus throughout the Midwest without adequate heating, causing them all to catch the flu and, in one case, even frostbite. They were desperate to get on a flight out, and only the guitarist, Tommy Allsup, and bassist Waylon Jennings were spared, simply because they lost their coin tosses. 

Ritchie took off at 12:55 am and crashed just minutes later.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

Still, nobody knows why the plane crashed. It killed everyone on impact. Ritchie suffered a blunt force trauma to the chest and unsurvivable head injuries, dying at just 17 years old. His death inspired Don McLean to write “American Pie,” forever remembering February 3 as “The Day the Music Died.” The music may have died by Ritchie’s legacy continues to live on, now in both Spanish and English at storytimes.

READ:

The Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

Things That Matter

The Venezuelan Government Has Stopped Buying HIV And AIDS Medication

Unsplash

While the international news about Venezuela may have subsided just a tiny bit, make no mistake that the crisis is still very alive. The difference now is that Venezuelans are not only protesting President Nicolás Maduro, but also President Donald Trump. For years, Venezuelans have pleaded that they’re in dire need of food and other essentials, but it’s as if no one seems to care. Trump has now imposed more economic sanctions on Venezuela, though it may be all smoke and mirrors. The reality is people want Maduro out, and they want to be able to survive there too. Most low-income people have to travel to Colombia in order to get essentials that they cannot get back home. But now the most vulnerable are paying the price.

The health care system of Venezuela has stopped purchasing HIV and AIDS medication, which means an estimated 7,700 Venezuelans that are living with the disease are facing a significant emergency.

Credit: @cmternes / Twitter

A new report in Foreign Policy informs that due to the dire situation in Venezuela, their healthcare system has been unable to purchase HIV/AIDS medication. This is putting thousands of people infected at risk. The turmoil of the country’s healthcare is the result of the corruption that has plagued Venezuela since former President Hugo Chávez was in charge. It’s even worse now under Maduro.

“As a result, the country’s medical system is severely under-resourced, FP reports. “Government funding for medical care has been slashed, more than half the country’s doctors have fled Venezuela, and drastic shortages in medical equipment have hampered the ability of hospitals to provide even basic treatment for their patients.”

People with HIV or AIDS are not the only ones suffering from this downturn in medical supplies; others, including children, need basic vaccines as well. 

Credit: @PattyLayla / Twitter

Marisol Ramírez is a 56-year-old Venezuelan who travels to Colombia not just for medication but also for food. She said she sometimes has to decide between food or medicine because it is too expensive to get both. Many others are in the same position. 

Just last month, they gave me enough [antiretroviral drugs] for three months, because due to the situation in the country, we can’t be going up and down to get here. The price of [bus] tickets are incredibly high, and we can’t be coming down here every month,” Marisol Ramírez told Foreign Policy.

There is some hope. The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) are reportedly going to send 12,000 doses of HIV/AIDS medication, but there are still several issues. 

Credit: @ReuterVZLA / Twitter

“When I was there I actually signed a letter of intent with the minister of health Juan Pablo Uribe for the United States to be providing HIV antiretrovirals to Colombia for the use with Venezuelan refugees,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar told Reuters. Azar also said there’s a plan in place to rebuild the healthcare system once Maduro is out, but who knows when that will be. 

“If you don’t have any money … or you don’t support the current government you don’t have anything,” a Venezuelan man told the Washington Blade. “It is, unfortunately, very sad.”

Some may assume that because HIV and AIDS are treatable that it’s not a problem like it was in previous years. However, people are only surviving this terrible illness because of medication, so, without it, people are likely to die. 

Credit: @PeterTatchell / Twitter

Jesus Aguais, founder of Aid for AIDS, an international organization, said that 80 percent of Venezuelans “with HIV who should be on treatment are not,” and added, “That’s terrible from a public health perspective. Not only are people going to get sicker, but HIV is going to spread faster.”

He also said another vulnerable group that is suffering from this disease that is not getting the help they deserve is the indigenous Warao community. He noted that HIV and AIDS are affecting them, and if they don’t get the proper medication, the community as a whole may be completely wiped out.

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now