A job, and a promise of a better life



When Astrid’s son was admitted to an intensive care unit, she made a promise to him: she said she would guarantee him a better quality of life far away from Venezuela.

Although the idea of migrating had been on her mind since her son was born six years earlier, it was only at the hospital that Astrid felt the drive to make the decision. She had already tried everything to make sure his health was not in danger.

For several years, she worked as an administrative assistant at a real estate firm in Venezuela. Even though it was a stable job, it was difficult for her to obtain and buy the medicine that could mitigate the effects of the chronic disease attacking her son’s immune system since he was a baby.

With her decision made, she raised money among family and friends to buy plane tickets to Colombia. Shortly after arriving in Medellin, Astrid’s husband found employment. Astrid was not as fortunate; it took her many months to find a job that would allow them to live in a house with minimum sanitary conditions to ward off any virus or threat to her son’s defences.

“My recommendation to migrants and refugees is to search and not give up until they find initiatives that help them find a job,” says Astrid.

It was through Trabajando por la migración (Working for Migration), an initiative led by Cuso International, that issues such as the lack of experience and work references in Colombia ceased to weigh as heavily when applying for a job. The initiative provided her with the tools to build a career path in Colombia and made it easier for her to participate in job openings.

Besides training opportunities, the project delivers financial support for transportation and food, so participants such as Astrid can attend workshops and take part in the selection and recruiting processes led by partner companies.

“One of the great added values of the initiative is that it not only focuses on access to decent work, but also on people keeping it,” says Tania Shephard, Cuso International’s Head of Programs, Latin America and the Caribbean.  “By providing a three-month job adaptation follow-up, we can really contribute to job retention and, in this way, to a transformation in the quality of their lives.”

After participating in the project, Astrid and her family have moved to a better house and are able to pay for medicine and therapies that are crucial for her son’s well-being.