Daniel Pedraza, Colombia

Ending hunger during a pandemic

Daniel Pedraza is the program manager for ZOA Colombia, the partner of Foodgrains Bank member World Renew. Daniel and his team provide emergency food assistance to Venezuelan migrants in the Colombian Guajira desert. The project is undertaken with financial support from the Government of Canada. It is impossible to grow food there, so families depend on groceries brought in from Colombia’s interior. Due to the pandemic restrictions, many of the area’s formal and informal jobs have been lost.

Even before the pandemic, people spent a large portion of their income on food. Now they have had to change what they eat because the price of groceries has spiked even higher – and stayed that way. A ZOA colleague contracted COVID-19 and still Daniel and his teammates continued serving. They rose to the challenge of creating virtual activities to encourage the field team to not lose hope during the country’s lock down.

The team from ZOA Colombia provides food vouchers for families who have left their homes in Venezuela and migrated to Colombia. They can exchange the vouchers for emergency food at local shops.

Here is what Daniel had to say about working throughout the pandemic:

During a pandemic, it takes hope to fight hunger. The pandemic brought the loss of hope to the communities we work with. We managed to give hope to our participants by informing them, that despite the quarantine and strict confinement, more than 4,900 people would continue to receive the top up of their vouchers to exchange it for food.

We top up not only money for food, but we top up hope for our participants that they will not be abandoned in the quarantine. We brought hope that hunger won’t get to their door.

Humanitarian work always stands out because environments are changeable and each day brings a new challenge. In that sense, the team and myself got used to the unknown. However, we have never been faced with a magnitude of uncertainty like this. In this sense, the best way is to continue visiting families and doing our work. The smile of children is what gives us the energy every day to continue, to battle in the face of the unknown and to know that what we do, change people’s lives. Those smiles give us hope to continue in an unknown world.

We are grateful for all that Daniel and the team at ZOA Colombia are doing. Thank you!