Emmanuel’s Story

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Hello! My name is Emmanuel, I am 15 years old and I’ve seen many things that I would like to tell everyone. I have witnessed classmates having to sell candy to fellow students with money to pay for their passage home. The others having to walk very long distances. I have seen how teachers of classes in their spare time have to work as taxi drivers, and other jobs because their salary can’t buy anything.

It is difficult for me to say this but this morning when I went to catch the bus I could see a homeless man on the street collecting food from a trash bin with a plastic spoon for breakfast. The man was completely gone, he was crazy, he was lying on the floor at 6AM collecting scraps from the floor that surely will soon affect your digestive system and cause a health problem. Is this just? Arriving at the bus stop which would take me to school I find that tomorrow they will double the price of the ticket. From it’s current price at the moment “300BsS” to “600BsS”. I discussed it with people my age who told me that to get the ticket money we should start selling products on the street with the risk that people steal them or we sell absolutely nothing and then have to walk anyway.

Speaking on different occasions with my teachers I have come to the conclusion that we should not have to just accept this situation. I grieved a few days ago when I saw a Professor telling her daughter of 6 or 7 years old to forgive him that he had not made her breakfast, because they had nothing to make it with. It’s hard for me to believe that professional and licensed people like teachers would not even have food in their homes. The girl looked at her mother with little understanding; the face she saw just wanted to eat, I think the only solution found by my teacher was asking to borrow money to buy breakfast for her daughter.

These situations affect all Venezuelans including me day by day. Things like an empty refrigerator, an empty stomach, a head full of questions and problems. I’ve seen how Venezuelans use gifted shoes when before there was talk of buying designer clothes, now we all have to wear the same pair of shoes for everything, every day. To study, work, play, go out to walk, or to “have fun”.

Like I said, it is difficult to explain and type this, since this is currently I what I’m seeing and living every day. My mathematics teacher has a pair of shoes which are old, my colleagues have very old shoes and occasionally have confided in me that they are that are used for everything. I now use my school shoes from 3 years ago. They are small and so damaged that they hurt my feet while walking, but there is not enough money to buy a pair of shoes or buy everyday things for life, even food. Many think that it is a lie, sometimes I feel sad walking down the street and that business people and others stare at me as my clothing is not very good it’s fair to say. But I am more ashamed of the fact that I have spent 3 years using the same footwear. It’s not the way they look, it pains me to use them, since they are small and do not have something called sole here. I have to place a piece of cardboard in them to make them bearable to walk in.

Photos attached are my shoes; Sorry for the poor quality of my camera.

I have been in these situations with sorrow, sadness and shame. Moreover I feel impotent and unable to do anything about the situation. Watching as my country slowly collapses and everyone suffers or harms without exception. I saw my classmates crying because they had nothing to eat at home, or because one day classes equis as has become usual, have come without breakfast and without supper from the day before, and your head spins by not eating anything. Everybody’s performance in classes has dropped including mine, the situation does not inspire progress and study. What do we get at the end of it? Educated and non educated people are poor all the same.

It has become common to go through the streets and occasionally see Venezuelans who smell very bad; many Venezuelans have turned it into a joke, but in fact it is something that is affecting the health of many. Products like shampoo, soap, deodorant or toothpaste are not available. Many people exchange them for staples such as food, or others make it at home to save money and headaches. We have been creative many times, in moments of happiness many begin to think about ways in which life here would be a “paradise” or at least easier to survive.

So this is what you see, a common Venezuelan like me stressed, tired, sad and above all feeling a sense of despair. That someday his country again be what it was, it is possible no? It is commonplace; something that I have seen in my mother even though she is a very positive person, something I’ve seen in professionals, something that I have seen in friends, myself too having had these thoughts and feelings.

I have the thought with me always that I myself, if I want to, can achieve; I have had this instilled since childhood and I know that in some way or other my mother and I will leave this, or maybe one day my country will be fixed. I don’t know. You just have to wait and that’s it.