Things That Matter

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

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

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