For World Refugee Day this year, we are launching a campaign, #FaceTowardsHope, to feature the stories of refugees—their strength, their resilience, and their hopes for the future.
A Venezuelan journalist, a father, and now a refugee in Trinidad and Tobago. Meet 49-year Carlos González. He worked as a journalist for more than 15 years covering politics in Venezuela. However, as political oppression and instability escalated in the last few years, Carlos said he was forced to “jeopardize my security and my family’s, and for that reason I decided that it was time to leave the country.” He and his family of five are just a few of the more than four million Venezuelans who have fled their country.
Carlos left Venezuela on April 7, 2016, and arrived by boat at Cedros, the southern tip of Trinidad and Tobago, just seven miles off the coast. You can see Venezuela’s coastline faintly in the distance. His family joined him shortly thereafter, and they eventually obtained refugee status.
However, despite having refugee status for two years now, Carlos and his family live in legal limbo on the islands. Carlos said day-to-day life is difficult “without having access to job permits or access to public education for my children, and not being able to open a bank account.” While his younger daughter is able to go to private school, his eldest daughter is unable to finish her college degree because they do not have enough money. She only had one year of college left when they fled Venezuela.
For now, though, Trinidad and Tobago is where they have found refuge. Carlos said that “home means Venezuela. It means your family, your house, your culture, the security of your country.” His hope for the future? That one day “Venezuela changes and gets better, so we can go back.”
In the meantime, Carlos hopes that people understand that every day, “war, racial conflicts, political conflicts, [and] hunger” mean that there will continue to be refugees around the world. Therefore, on this World Refugee Day, he calls on countries to create a “cultural change towards refugees,” as he puts it, for the better.