By Tim Harfmann
Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros recently met with refugees from Venezuela.
“It was heartbreaking,” Bishop Cisneros said.
He has just returned from the border with Colombia. People are crossing over every day to get out of Venezuela and escape crushing conditions. According to the United Nations, more than four-and-a-half million people have fled Venezuela in the past four years.
“Their faces are empty. What’s the future? What’s coming next?” Bishop Cisneros continued.
Bishop Cisneros led a group from the U.S. bishops’ conference to the border to offer help.
They spent three days touring a children’s center and food bank, where volunteers are doing their best to aid people who have so little.
All across Venezuela, food and medicine are in short supply.
“Children hanging onto their mothers, many of them sick,” said Bishop Cisneros.
The U.S. bishops have pitched in before, sending money to that same food bank two years ago. Now, Bishop Cisneros is looking at what’s needed next.
“We donated previously $50,000 to the food bank; and we’re going to see what we can do now as we come back,” he added.
Bishop Cisneros is a refugee himself, having fled communist Cuba decades ago. He says he understands what the Venezuelans are going through.
“Leaving your home and leaving because you are forced to leave, not because you want to. Leaving everything that is dear to you to an unknown land; and I sympathize with the people,” he said.