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From despair to hope: Ruth’s story

October 2015 will be marked in Ruth's memory forever. A neighborhood game turned into a nightmare when her son, Edwin, accidentally got a syringe in his eye, causing a retinal detachment. Ruth and her son were confronted with a challenging journey to recovery after spending days in the hospital and undergoing seven surgeries. 

Due to socioeconomic hardships in Venezuela, Ruth was constantly traveling to Colombia. Each trip was a desperate scramble for funds to cover Edwin's mounting medical bills. Complications on each trip across the Colombian-Venezuelan border deteriorated her state of mind. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, she decided to move to Colombia permanently. 

"The year I arrived, was challenging. We were in the middle of a pandemic, and no one wanted to help. I struggled with numerous hardships, I even spent several nights on the street. I didn't know what to do, and little by little I became depressed and started to consume hallucinogenic."

One step at a time 

In 2021, walking through her neighborhood, Ruth came across a mobile health brigade from Malteser International. Wanting to improve her situation, she approached with a key question, "Do you offer psychological consultation?"  

From that day on, she received therapy sessions at the Mental Health Center in Riohacha, the capital of the northern Colombian department of La Guajira. Funded by the U.S. government and managed by the local entity Ipsi Anashiwaya, this center provides a lifeline to vulnerable migrants like Ruth. 

The Malteser International Americas team provided medical care and psychological support to Ruth, whose emotional state had been progressively deteriorating. 

The beginning of healing

In La Guajira, a region that has welcomed a large number of Venezuelan migrants, chronic and multiple stress, known as "Ulysses syndrome," and depression are common pathologies among migrants. Ruth was referred to psychiatric and psychological services. Since starting her treatment, her life has been on an upward trajectory. 

"I landed with the idea of a new home full of opportunities and prosperity, but once I permanently moved to Colombia, it all faded into a dark and difficult picture," Ruth says. 

"I want to thank God and the professionals at Malteser International because thanks to them I feel very confident in myself. In these months of treatment, I have felt a sincere interest on their part in my improvement.”

Psychological and psychiatric care has been crucial in Ruth's journey to overcome her addictions, manage anger, and cope with depression. It also led to significant improvements in her relationships with others.

"I am grateful for all the help Malteser International has given me, for recognizing the importance of mental health and for getting me out of the dark hole I was in. Their professionals are excellent, and I have had access to free medication that has helped me. I will always be grateful.“

Through collaborative efforts, Malteser International Americas' team of professionals has been working to serve this vulnerable population. From 2021 till the end of 2023, more than 20,171 people have been assisted through psychological services in seven municipalities in La Guajira. In addition, 900 people have received psychiatric care in Riohacha. 

(March 2024)

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