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A boy left all on his own juggles for money or food on Aug. 24, 2018, in Caracas, where the terrible economic crisis Venezuela is going through has caused thousands of children to be left behind by their parents who have left the country to find somewhere they can make a decent living. EFE-EPA/Cristian Hernandez
A boy left all on his own juggles for money or food on Aug. 24, 2018, in Caracas, where the terrible economic crisis Venezuela is going through has caused thousands of children to be left behind by their parents who have left the country to find…

Venezuelan schools report kids left behind by emigrating parents

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The terrible economic and social crisis Venezuela is going through has caused thousands of children to be left behind by their parents who have left the country to find somewhere they can make a decent living, a situation that educators and activists describe as a public health problem.

Just the Fe y Alegria (Faith and Joy) association of private schools, which has 170 educational institutions in lower-income areas all around Venezuela, has reported 4,444 children and adolescents "left behind" by their parents, who leave them with grandparents, uncles, older siblings or neighbors.

"If we with 170 schools had 4,444 such cases up to June, how many will there be in the 30,000 public schools?" the coordinator of Fe y Alegria's Research and Training Center, Luisa Pernalete, asked EFE.

The educator, with more than 40 years of service in the organization, said this is the first time a situation like this has come up that can be called a "public health problem."

"Let's suppose that in the 30,000 state schools there is one case per school - that means we have more than 34,000 children left behind," the teacher said.

Fe y Alegria has counted, in its schools in Caracas and the central states of Vargas and Miranda alone, some 1,008 children and teenagers who have seen their parents pack up and take off for countries like Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, countries that have reported "massive" migrations of Venezuelans this year.

"This year I began asking around about that situation because of various cases reported to me by several of our schools...and I started getting alarmed by the numbers," Pernalete said, adding that with the government's new economic measures, those parents are unlikely to think about coming back to Venezuela.

"I remember being told at a school in Maracaibo that they had 107 cases of children left behind. Left with whom? With anyone, with the next-door neighbor, with the elder sister age 16 or 17," she said.

Pernalete blames the government for this "appalling" situation because she sees no interest on its part to provide even psychological care to the affected children and adolescents, many of whom react with rebelliousness, anger and sorrow at the departure of their parents.

"In the great majority of cases they are kids left in the care of people who are not family members, and in other cases they are simply left all by themselves," said Leonardo Rodriguez, director of the Don Bosco Red de Casas child-care association, who noted that these youngsters are not well nourished and come to school very tired because they're not sleeping at home.

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