Skip to main content

Cash Cards: a Simple Solution Brings Joy

March 23, 2022

The Arauca and La Guajira regions of Colombia—bordering Venezuela in the country’s “Eastern Plains”—are known for their fertile agricultural land, lush rainforests, and vast rivers. But the beauty of this landscape masks the challenges faced by people who live here.

Continued guerrilla conflicts, a mass refugee crisis—stemming from economic and political upheaval in neighboring Venezuela—and regular flood damage have contributed to ongoing food insecurity for both local Colombians and migrant families. Estimates show that about 94,750 people in Arauca and 438,800 people in La Guajira need food assistance.

Jose Acevedo’s story, like that of so many others in the region, has often been about simple survival. Wheelchair bound since his teenage years, Jose, now 53, lives with his sister and his elderly mother. Adding to the family’s burdens, recent severe flooding has damaged their home. Repairs are out of reach for the family, who must use most of their savings to buy their daily food.

“Sometimes we have almost nothing to eat,” says Jose, “and my mother will give us the little she has so my sister and I have something. Sometimes the companies will cut our gas or electric service for lack of payment, and we have to ask the neighbors for help getting food or water.”

But World Renew, as a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is working to change that story for Jose and for 6,156 others in Arauca and La Guajira. Working alongside our local partner, ZOA Refugee Care, World Renew is sharing a simple but effective way to end hunger: electronic cash cards.

Participants like Jose receive funds for food (about $120 CAD/$95 USD per month for six months) loaded onto cards that they can use when and where they need them. Simple and easy to use, cash cards give dignity and choice to people, allowing them to purchase items for themselves at local shops. This system allows people to circulate money back into their community, further supporting the local economy.

World Renew and ZOA’s distribution of cash cards has given Jose a reprieve from hunger and worry, and the simple joy of shopping has given a boost to his self-esteem. “Thanks to this card, I can somehow help my mother and buy the things we need. Now we are able to eat better, get sick less, and enjoy delicious food,” he said.