On April 17, a 56-year-old man died in San Cristobal. During the last six months of his life, he experienced a shortage of medicines to control his diabetes, the disease he developed more than five years ago.
The medicine was available in Cucuta, Colombia, right on the border with Venezuela, but he could not afford it.
The lack of right treatment worsened his condition: before he died, he was in the Central Hospital of San Cristobal in a diabetic coma. His brother and nephew were with him because the man’s two sons migrated from Venezuela.
“He had been suffering from diabetes for some time now and had already one leg amputated. But the last few days, thinking and worrying about the situation in the country, about the relatives who were not here, he became even sicker, went into a diabetic coma and died,” said one of the neighbors, who request omitted his name for fear of reprisals against him.
No money for a coffin
When the man died, his relatives did not have the resources for the coffin, so the neighbors, in solidarity, decided to try to help.
“At the funeral home they asked for 300,000 pesos for the cheapest coffin, and the few relatives who are here with him did not have the resources to pay for it,” explained the young man who helped in the making of the coffin.
Paying the 300,000 Colombian pesos ($85) was not possible for the family or the community. Since the quarantine decree as prevention during the Coronavirus outbreak, they are not earning any income since they all work in the informal economy. The only option was to make the coffin themselves.
Thanks to the support and collaboration of all the neighbors, it was possible to make the coffin so that man could be given a Christian burial, as it should be.
“We made it out of wood that we all scavenged for, foam-rubber padding that a family donated, and a white sheet another neighbor donated,” one of the improvised coffin-makers said.
The two sons, who are abroad, couldn’t say the last goodbye to their father because there are no flights into Venezuela since March, besides, everyone who enters the country must stay quarantined in a shelter.
The 56-year-old man was buried in the local cemetery in San Cristobal.