On the south side of Maracaibo is an open-air market, called MercaSur, where people come to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and bulk products. A lot of restaurants and markets in the city come here to buy their produce. The families that live around the market are often low-income and struggle daily to feed their children. Due to high inflation and scarce food supplies, many families can no longer afford multiple meals a day. Leading them to search through scraps of fruits and vegetables for meals.
While the economic situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, local churches are stepping out and pouring their hearts and lives into their communities. They have become a beacon of hope where all hope has been lost.
Our Bread of Hope local team started a literacy program and weekly bible study with the children who live near the market. They quickly realized that while many of the children loved the Bible study they were unable to attend regularly. Our staff began to see that the majority of these children are working around the market – cleaning, pushing carts, selling candy, or begging for money. They have to work to help bring food home. Work is now their main priority.
Our local Bread of Hope representative, Alfredo, shared an idea to encourage attendance by using groceries instead of small prizes as incentives for those who came to participate in the Bible study. Attendance, participation, and scripture memorization helps each student earn points towards which they can accumulate to buy groceries for their families. Relieving them of the pressure to put work ahead of their Bible study, education, and childhood.
Now children are starting to come every week to study God’s Word, have a hot meal, and earn another opportunity to provide for their families. Currently, there are over 60 children in the program, but more are being added each week. Their parents are also now coming to the Bible study. They are curious to see what their child is learning and how they are bringing food home. Thanks to our local team and our BOH donors, we are able to exchange the hopelessness that these families face with personal value in Jesus Christ.
— The Lord says, “All you who are thirsty, come and drink. Those of you who do not have money, come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend your money on something that is not real food? Why work for something that doesn’t really satisfy you? Listen closely to me, and you will eat what is good; your soul will enjoy the rich food that satisfies.” — Isaiah 55:1-2