A family of four with Covid-19, zero savings and no relief from Venezuela’s collapsed public health system: Gabriela Rodriguez had no choice but to seek help from crowdfunding.
She’s one of the growing numbers of people looking for help online on sites like GoFundMe in a country hit by inflation and sanctions.
“This was a nightmare and a horror,” Rodriguez, 31, told AFP.
After losing her job at a travel agency due to a pandemic and earning $ 80 a month from her temporary job as a social media administrator, she soon became a mother, 59, 67 and 80-year-old grandparents. , And cousin, 52, all lowered by Covid-19.
Taking care of them at home due to lack of hospital beds, she soon realized that she needed $ 300 a day just to pay for her family’s medicine.
She pawned her car, but this wasn’t enough.
Rodriguez called GoFundMe for $ 5,000 and received $ 1,075 from the donor. Without it, “I would bury my mother now,” Rodriguez said in a quivering voice.
Like the rest of South America, Venezuela is fighting a tough new pandemic wave fueled by more infectious viral variants from Brazil.
Officially, there are 165,000 cases and nearly 1,700 deaths in the country, but observer groups such as Human Rights Watch have questioned that number.
Finding beds in public hospitals becomes harder day by day, and private hospital prices ($ 1,000 to $ 3,000 per day) are barely reachable in this depressed country with a minimum wage of less than one. .. Monthly dollars.
The GoFundMe site has more than 2,300 appeals for all kinds of support, primarily for the money to buy medicines and oxygen cylinders from Venezuelans, and is primarily fighting the epidemic on its own.
Even famous singers and politicians are on the site seeking hospital funding, but the TV host, also registered on the site, has since died.
“Help me save my mom’s life,” I read one of the entries. “Help my grandmother pass Covid-19,” said another.
“I know no one has enough money … no matter how small, I would be very grateful if you could help with the donation,” Rodriguez wrote to her.
Maria Angelina Castillo used GoFundMe last year when Venezuela was in a pandemic blockade and sought help to pay for cancer treatment when the hospital was flooded with coronavirus patients.
“There’s no other way, either GoFundMe or die,” she said.
Jaime Lorenzo of NGO Medicos Unidos Venezuela told AFP that the demand for hospital beds far exceeded the supply.
“The collapse is massive,” he said.
“The clinics are completely full and the hospitals are full,” said union leader Mauro Zambrano in the capital, Caracas.
The government aims to vaccinate 70% of its 30 million inhabitants this year, but so far has received less than one million doses. These are provided to healthcare professionals, teachers and government officials.
Caracas is demanding access to funds blocked abroad for sanctions against Maduro and is purchasing more doses from the global Covax vaccine sharing mechanism.
In an interview with AFP, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Wednesday that without sanctions, “we could have bought the 30 million vaccines the country needed three months ago.”
Maduro’s reelection in 2018 is considered fraudulent by many international communities who recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as acting president of the country.
Washington has frozen millions of dollars in Venezuelan money in US bank accounts and entrusted Guaidó with control of the money.
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