Miguel* y Zulema*

  • Piura
  • Area: Humanitarian aid

Rise from the ashes

After closing their company in Venezuela, Miguel* (40) and Zulema* (40) decided to migrate to Peru together with their three children. Today they live in Piura and, after a fire that destroyed the house where they lived, they are determined to start over.

To leave Venezuela, Miguel and Zulema sold all the equipment of their snack manufacturing company. The family business, which operated for 10 years, closed in 2017, when the lack of orders made it untenable to continue. The money they managed to raise from the sale was only enough for Miguel’s trip.

When he arrived in Piura and thanks to the contact of a family member, he worked in a roasted chicken restaurant as a baker and grill man. Later, he began to work in a pastry shop. Without a work contract, he and some relatives rented a house in poor conditions, but with an affordable price. That house became an improvised shelter for Venezuelan men and women who had just arrived in this city in northern Peru.

In that house, I received many Venezuelan friends when they had just arrived in Piura. We would assist them for a month or two while they were looking for their way, but we could no longer afford it, so I had to find a small room for myself because I had to send money for my family in Venezuela”.


At a distance

The money Miguel sent from Peru, was used by his wife Zulema to survive with their children in Venezuela. In addition to the food shortage, the two youngest children had to stop attending school because they could not afford it. All these complications made Zulema also decide to leave his country in October 2018.

My husband was making 30 soles a day (USD 8) and sent 150 soles a week (USD 44), which was not enough. I had to sell all the things that were left in the house and the company, such as the machinery of the bakery, because the ticket was very costly to get to Peru, all four of us. We left Venezuela just with our identity cards because we did not have passports.

Traveling without passports made Zulema and her children’s journey more difficult and dangerous. Upon arrival at the Venezuelan-Colombian border, she was separated from her children and held by the authorities. After passing through a trail guarded by the military, she was able to join her children one day after they were separated. Upon arrival in Peru, they were given shelter and food in Tumbes. From there they took a bus to meet Miguel. It was November 2019.

One year without seeing them, imagine that! It was hard for everyone, but joyful at the same time. We are strong; we are people who have moved forward. We have been through many things together, we have been married for more than 19 years, we celebrated our 19th anniversary one week ago; and we have been together for a little more than 22 years.


A new life in Peru

Miguel left the small room where he had been living alone and returned to rent the same dilapidated house where he had lived when he arrived in Piura. It was the only thing they could afford. While Miguel was working in the bakery, Zulema began selling coffee, tortillas and sweets on the street.

The youngest children were able to return to school. Like other students from Venezuela who attend San Miguel School in Piura, Diego* (14) and Fabiano* (11) received school supplies and tutoring from Save the Children.

This tutoring helped them understand some things, with respect to the curriculum, because when they arrived they did not know many things about the history of Peru and they have been informed about many things here.”.


A tragedy in the home

In the early morning of August 3, 2019, a short circuit in the house where they lived caused a fire that destroyed everything. That night Miguel was working and Zulema was with her three children. They left the house on time but the fire consumed all their clothes, documents and photos. With the same solidarity that once Miguel showed by welcoming his compatriots who had just arrived in Piura, they have received donations of clothes and food from their neighbors and relatives.

The humanitarian aid that the NGO Save the Children has given us, will be for my children, because we must buy them uniforms again so they can go back to school, because since we arrived in this country that is our goal, that our children study, and the remaining money will be for housing and food, this is all for now.


Having left their home in Venezuela and lost their possessions in the fire, Zulema and Miguel’s family is still together. They hope that one day they will be able to have their own business again. They are ready to start again, for the second time.

* Names were changed as required by the protection policy.

About the intervention:

The project “Immediate Assistance to Venezuelan Families in Emergency and at Risk” has been implemented by Save the Children with support from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Food For Peace (FFP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This intervention aims to provide emergency humanitarian aid to Venezuelan migrants in a situation of risk and vulnerability during their stay and transit through Peru. It prioritizes pregnant and lactating women, people with disabilities and/or chronic diseases, families with children under 18 years of age, and older adults.

The areas of the intervention are: child protection, nutrition and health, cash transfer program, as well as humanitarian coordination, information management and communication.

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