“I am from Venezuela. One of the most wonderful countries in South America.”
To an outsider, it would appear Yomardy lived an ideal life in her home country of Venezuela. Certainly not a situation to cause one to seek asylum.
After all, the terrain was beautiful and diverse with incredible views. Most of her people were kind, honest, outgoing and humble. And her professional life as an educator was nothing but impressive.
Yomardy had been honored as Venezuela’s National Teacher of the Year and accepted into the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. She planned to bring back extensive training and valuable knowledge from the U.S. to improve the lives of the students she served. In fact, her ultimate goal was to become Venezuela’s Vice Minister of Education.
With everything in her favor, you might wonder what could have caused Yomardy to leave a country she so deeply loved. What brought about her decision to eventually seek asylum?
An Enemy of the State
Chronic food and medicine shortages. High unemployment. A corrupt and oppressive government. And unchecked violence that gives Venezuela the highest crime rate of any country in the world. This humanitarian crisis has forced over 7 million Venezuelans to flee their country, making it one of the highest external displacement crisis globally.
Yet Yomardy hoped her time in the U.S. would equip her to better the lives of her people. Instead, it resulted in one of her worst nightmares.
While she spoke honestly and humbly about the challenges her students faced back in Venezuela, her government struck harshly back at her. It wasn’t pleased that Yomardy portrayed her leaders in an unfavorable light. Particularly while she was in a country they considered an enemy.
Ultimately, speaking the truth would have serious consequences.
A Difficult Decision
The ruthless action of her government devastated Yomardy. Her entire life – her job, her family, everything she struggled for – was back in Venezuela. It felt like she died when all that mattered was abruptly taken from her.
After her three month visit ended, Yomardy was determined to return home with her plan to help her country. However, she knew the risks. Would it really be that dangerous if she made a decision to go back?
A New Dream
With no job, no home and no relationships in the U.S., Yomardy’s fears for her future were understandable. But with the help of generous and supportive people, along with the guidance of World Relief, Yomardy rebuilt a new life.
Refusing to sit idle in her circumstances, she quickly earned her license to teach in the U.S. and now brings her passion to American students at an elementary school. She pushed on to pursue a master’s degree and aspires to become a lawyer one day.
But Yomardy hasn’t given up on her dream to become Venezuela’s Vice Minister of Education. While she optimistically waits for an opportunity to return to her country, she has created a few new dreams. Particularly one that gives back to others what was generously given to her during the most challenging time of her life.
Listen to the Full Story
Listen to Yomardy share her complete story of risk, fear, and perseverance to leave a life and country behind to seek asylum in the United States.
Serving Asylum Seekers and Asylees
World Relief Chicagoland believes that everyone deserves a chance to seek safety and a better life. Like refugees, asylum seekers like Yomardy flee their homes because of threats to their safety and well-being. But unlike for refugees, the federal government does not have financial provision for them. They must wait for a legal decision on their asylum claim. Yet they have no way to provide for themselves or their families. And this puts asylum seekers in an even more vulnerable situation.
Since 2019, World Relief Chicagoland has served asylum seekers at their most vulnerable. With your help, the H.O.M.E. program provides Housing, Opportunity, Mutuality (Transformative relationships), and Empowerment for asylum seekers in our community. Will you partner with us to serve asylum seekers today? Gather a group from your church or community to serve as a Good Neighbor Team with the H.O.M.E. program in Chicago today. This is one way you can have a life-changing impact on someone else seeking safety.
Watch other stories of transformation on World Relief Chicagoland’s YouTube channel!