“We crossed the river in a canoe,” Adriana* says. “I was a little scared, but I had to do it.”
Adriana, 14 years old, is a refugee from Venezuela. She lives in Colombia, just across the river border, with her grandmother and aunt and two of her younger sisters. A younger sister and brother are still in Venezuela. Her mother and father are both dead.
“My dream is that we can all be together again.”
“We came here because we didn’t have anything there,” Adriana says. “Sometimes we didn’t have anything to eat and no money to live. We couldn’t go to school, sometimes there was no water.”
The crisis in Venezuela have forced over three million people to leave the country. Increased violence, food shortages and collapse of basic functions in society like schools and health care has made life unbearable.
“Here in Colombia it is better than in Venezuela,” Adriana says. “Because, we are not as hungry here as we were in Venezuela. It is hard here too, but a little bit better.”
Children, and girls especially, that are refugees, are vulnerable. In the border regions of Colombia, a fragile peace between different guerrilla groups, government forces and other paramilitary forces means that recruitment of children is a real risk. There are established networks for child prostitution and the constant presence of armed men means abuse is common.
Adriana had to stop school when she left Venezuela, but she now attends Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space almost every day. It is a centre close to her home where she can feel safe, meet other children and learn. She loves the craft and painting the best.
“I’m not is school. We don’t have the right papers. But I would really like to study here if I could. Maths is my favourite subject.”
“I made my own bracelets and earrings at the centre,” Adriana says. “Necklaces are harder, I haven’t learnt that, because it is very hard.”
It is hard for Adriana to think about the future. Her focus is on her younger sisters and the sister and brother still in Venezuela.
“Right now, I’m not thinking anything about my own future. Just that my sisters move forward in life, that God helps them. My dream is that we can all be together again.”