The nation of Venezuela has been in crisis since 2014 when protests erupted across the country. The once oil-rich nation has been suffering from a complete economic collapse as oil prices continue to decline. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has even blocked foreign aid to the country, forcing his people to go without food, water, fuel and electricity.
But Fabiola Molero, a volunteer nurse with a Roman Catholic aid group known as Caritas, is doing her part to bring much-needed supplies and nourishment to those in need by hitchhiking to one of the most remote regions of the country. Read about her incredible story during this time of unprecedented crisis.
The Photo Seen Around the World
Before Molero began her journey, an image of a malnourished young Venezuelan girl started going viral on social media. The photo shows the girl crying on a dirty bed with her bones peeking through her skin. Just two years old, Anailin Nava lives on the remote Toas Island. The region has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Boats that normally travel back and forth between the island and the mainland have since broken down due to a lack of spare parts.
Government-issued food arrives on the island every five months, but these supplies usually only last a week, according to Nava’s family. Nava’s mother can usually only afford to feed her daughter once a day, typically with slim portions of rice and cornmeal. Further complicating the situation, Nava suffers from a genetic neurological disease, which causes convulsions, muscular problems, and digestion issues.
In a recent interview, Nava’s mother, who is 25, had this to say: “My baby had deteriorated and was in a very bad state. I thought my daughter was going to die. She didn’t even give me her hand when I tried playing with her.”
The photo of Anailin Nava quickly sparked outrage and sympathy on social media, sending Molero on a mission to help the people of Toas Island.
A Nurse Goes Out of Her Way to Help Those in Need
Fabiola Molero has been working as a nurse in the country for over 20 years. She decided to join the volunteer group Caritas when she saw the economic crisis devastating her patients. “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 added.
This set her off on her journey to help those in need, including the residents of Toas Island. She hitchhiked all the way from the western city of Maracaibo to reach the island of Toas. She brought along a scale and a 15-day supply of nutritional supplements, milk and food.
When Molero arrived, she described Nava’s condition as one of the worst she’s ever seen. The child weighed half of her normal weight and she was too weak to travel. Molero quickly noticed a difference in the child after giving her some food. After a medical evaluation, she said Nava can be treated at home until she’s strong enough to see a neurologist on the mainland.
During her visit to the island, 10 out of the 26 children Molero examined were malnourished. And almost all of them had blisters and abscesses on their skin due to the island’s poor water quality.
Locals began lining up outside Nava’s dilapidated hut, hoping for a chance to visit with nurse Molero. The island has two hospitals and three first aid clinics, but the economic crisis has sapped the island of all its medical supplies, forcing residents to go without medical care.
Molero added, “The condition of our children gets worse every day. We’re working by the strength of our nails here because we barely have any resources.” More volunteers are expected to make the trek to the island in the coming months, but without fuel, reaching this remote destination can be a long and arduous process.
Here at Scrubs Mag, our heart goes out to all the people affected by the Venezuelan economic crisis. We proudly salute nurse Fabiola Molero for her dedication to the people of Venezuela and her selflessness in the face adversity.