The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].
I am a student who is currently perusing studies in Venezuela and would soon complete my studies, by the grace of God. I am writing this letter to inform those at home in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Service Commission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all other ministries as well as the public to highlight the problems and ill-treatment we as students face here.
First, I must make it clear that Venezuela, as we know, is facing hard economic times. The government of the country is no longer reliable and can’t support itself or the needs of the people. Big companies and factories have closed their doors because they can no longer afford to keep producing, as well as pharmacies, so there is no medication in the country. There is a food scarcity in the country as well as well as a scarcity of basic foodstuffs and household items. These items are toilet paper, chicken, milk, rice, peas, pasta, flour, butter, eggs, soap powder (breeze), disinfectant, bleach, dishwashing liquid, disposable diapers, sanitary pads, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, and the list goes on.
Also, the price for foodstuff and basic necessities are very expensive and we as students cannot afford these expenses. Can you imagine that we are currently receiving 1,500 bolivares a month as stipend? This money is not sufficient to provide for our needs from one month to next. The cost for a pack of rice is 235 bolivares, a bottle of drinking water 350 bolivares, a pack of peas 700 bolivares, a kilo of chicken goes for 900 bolivares and up. These prices are ridiculous; one must note that for those who are females and studying here that sanitary pad are scarce and very expensive. How are students to study in these conditions? When we can’t afford to buy basic items! I have lost count of the number of times I have went hungry with no breakfast, lunch and dinner because there was not enough money left or none at all to buy food after buying school material.
I want the government and public to know that those in charge of our wellbeing are not equipped and responsible enough. FUNDAYACUCHO, (organization in charge of all foreign students studying here), is not efficient and have not been carrying out their duties as they ought to. Students have been sick and dying (yes dying) here in Venezuela and whenever you call their officers to report a matter there’s never an answer. We would write letters and send emails highlighting our problems and never get a reply. Yet every year whenever our student visa is to expire the same FUNDAYACUCHO calls you asking you to send a copy of your old and new visa. Where were you then, FUNDAYACUCHO when we were calling, messaging and emailing you?
It is no doubt that because of situation like this that one such government has removed its students from Venezuela.
Now with regards to housing, there are various Vincentian students here in different states of Venezuela studying. Some of these students reside in Mérida, Vargas, Yaracuy and Falcón, just to name a few. The students who are living in Falcon have it the hardest, because their living conditions are not appropriate for students. They have been constantly in problems with the landlady. To my knowledge she once gave them an eviction notice because the money the government or FUNDAYACUCHO, as am told, normally send was 3 months late. She has also resorted to raising the payment of rent every six months, which would be effective from this April, to a equivalent of 4,000 bolivares. Now, it is established that if the money these students are supposed to receive results in the rent being late that they are to use their stipend they receive to pay the rent or as she told them find “ways and means” to get the money because she cannot wait. My question is, as unemployed individuals who are studying, how are these students supposed to “ways and means” to pay this rent?
This situation is a matter of concern and one that the said FUNDAYACUCHO and the ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Venezuela as well as the Service Commission office in St. Vincent know about, yet no action have been taken. I ask the government and those in charge to please look into this matter and find a solution. I also ask the government and those responsible for the students here to check on the wellbeing of your citizens, and not to go on the media and boast about how many scholarships you have given away and how many have returned home with degrees in this and that field. There’s a lot more to be said and more to be uncovered, so I will write again soon to expose the ugly truth about the situation here and how we as students are living.
Finally, I urge all citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who are contemplating on coming to Venezuela to study to please dismiss this idea, the economic hardship of the country is one that keeps getting worse and students here are fed up and ready to come home.
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].