Jhonny Alberto Peña clearly remembers March 22. It was the day he left his native Venezuela for the city of Medellin in neighboring Colombia.
“It was hard when I left, to leave my family, my small babies, my wife, in search of a better future for them,” said Peña.
Peña now lives in Medellin, together with his family who joined him three months ago. His family, like many migrant Venezuelan families, fled the political and economic turmoil in Venezuela in search of a better life.
Peña’s family is among the 20 families benefitting from a special project led by leaders and staff of the Colombia Adventist University in Medellin. The special initiative assists low-income families by providing them with the tools to start their own small business, said Zulay Herrera, director of the initiative.
“This time we had the opportunity to help 15 Venezuelan migrant families and five local families in Medellin, with the tools and training to start their own business,” said Herrera. Among the equipment given to the families included ovens, industrial food machines, sewing machines, mobile food carts, printers, and more.
Peña and the rest of the families were treated to an afternoon of praise and testimonies on July 27, during a special ceremony. Previous to that they received 11 hours of training from university teachers on the use of the equipment, how to sell products and how to manage their small business.
“I learned about persons from the Adventist Church who told us about the project and thanks to God, we were given a fast food cart with which we have been able to supply our needs,” said Peña.
In addition, families received raw materials to start their businesses, games for the children, a food basket from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia, the church’s special book of the year “Hope for Today’s Families,” by Willie and Elaine Oliver, Bibles, bible study lessons, and more.
The project will continue with more orientations by Adventist university leaders who will meet with the small business owners to assist in the process. “The idea is to meet once a month during the next four months so that we can see how they develop, how they are executing their project and guide them according to their weaknesses or shortcomings,” explained Herrera.
Many beneficiaries like Peña have begun helping others in need.
The project has been possible thanks to many Adventist and non-Adventist families who have contributed funds, food and raw materials for the project and have provided transportation to deliver the goods to the homes of the beneficiaries.
University leaders will continue to follow-up on the families through its Servant Ministries, an initiative that began eight years ago for the surrounding community, and plan to reach out and benefit 20 more families in November.
To learn more about Colombia Adventist University’s Servant Ministries project, visit unioncolombiana.org.co