Venezuela’s Abandoned Children
A private orphanage steps up to save the lives of children whose mothers, impoverished by the Maduro regime, can no longer support them.
"Just this past month we have taken in 27 babies who were left in the street, newborns who had been left in a box by the side of the road, as if were they yesterday’s trash.”
I am visiting Fundana, a private orphanage that specializes in taking in children who have been abandoned by their mothers because they lack food and most other basic necessities. The babies are abandoned either right after birth, or they are simply dropped off somewhere on the street after the mother realizes she doesn’t have the means to care for her child. Once the children reach the Fundana orphanage, they are usually already on the brink of starvation. Many suffer from drug withdrawal and disease that has been transported between mother and child in the absence of prenatal health care.
It has gotten worse in the past few weeks, Karen, the head counselor, tells me. It used to be that Venezuela’s social services managed the contact between the parents and Fundana, providing offices, in the most destitute areas of Caracas, where the babies could be dropped off safely, but since the latest political crisis erupted just over a month ago, Nicolás Maduro’s government has shuttered those offices, trying to hide the suffering families from the eyes of the world.
”There used to be a facility in Petare where mothers could leave their kids, a kind of halfway house between them and us,” Karen explains, “but after the regime shut it down a few weeks ago, these mothers have nowhere to turn, and that means that these babies end up right on the street. Last week, a member of our team found a one-year-old half-naked outside the subway with nothing else than a ragged old blanket to sit on and a single cookie in a bag, tied to his wrist.”
It is hard, if not impossible, to imagine. These children, 130 of them at the Fundana orphanage alone, have been abandoned not just by their mothers but also by Maduro, by Venezuela, by everything that is good and pure in what we consider civilized society. These mothers have no other recourse. The Venezuelan government does, but time and time again it chooses ideology over humanity.
These children are dying, and while politicians and intellectuals around the world still defend the regime and fight those who fight it and what it stands for, I pray that one day the regime’s apologists will have the sense to hang their heads in shame as they see what I have seen: dying children, desperate mothers, and a country robbed of hope and treasure.
We can never say that we didn’t know, because we do. We can never pretend that this didn’t happen, because we were there.