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Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

Samuel sells his draws on Twitter to help his mom to buy food

The young boy with Asperger not only helps support his family by selling his drawings through Twitter ($1), but he has also experienced migrating to Colombia and having Venezuelan authorities not recognizing his academic achievements from the neighboring country.


By Liz Gascon in Lara.

About 50 crayons – worn down to almost a nub half – live inside the pencil case of Samuel Andres Mendoza Rodriguez, a young boy with Asperger syndrome who became known after offering his drawings for sale on Twitter. His plan with the money is to help his mother, who occasionally sells knick-knacks on the street, and raise money to buy peanut butter, his favorite snack.

He is a native of Barquisimeto, the capital of Lara state. Once a prosperous, industrial city, historic Barquisimeto is now merely a crime-ridden stepping-stone on the way to the border to Colombia, where Samuel has lived and studied, like millions of other Venezuelans since Maduro took over in 2013.

Samuel is 14 years old and loves animals, especially reptiles and snakes. He dreams of having his phone, more colors to continue drawing, and in the future, being able to buy a house for his mother. For that, however, he needs to sell a lot of his coveted drawings over the internet, Twitter more specifically.

Samuel is 14 years old and loves animals, especially reptiles and snakes. He dreams of having his phone, more colors to continue drawing, and in the future, being able to buy a house for his mother. For that, however, he needs to sell a lot of his coveted drawings over the internet, Twitter more specifically.

The story behind the tweet

On January 22, Samuel asked his mother for permission to open a Twitter account. After a few hours, he shared a post that went viral:

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“Hi! I am Samuel. I’m selling my drawings for $1 to help my mom with my diet, buy her a house and a bodega, so she doesn’t work on the street and get sick with COVID-19 and buy peanut butter for me. Thank you.” Samuel Andres (@Samuela58097885) January 23, 2021.

The message accumulated nearly 11,000 retweets and 16,500 likes three days after its dissemination. The account is already close to 6,000 followers.

His mother, Magdalena Rodriguez, learned the initiative when he asked her for her bank account number to close the first sale. “When I opened my Twitter to look for him, I saw the publication he had made, saying he was selling his drawings, but that was not going to be able to buy me the house and the warehouse but that he was going to have a lot of peanut butter. I spent all that day crying from seeing all the comments, the blessings they send him, the help they want to offer him,” said Rodriguez, in an interview granted to El Pitazo, on January 25.

Now, Samuel has a long waiting list for his one-dollar cartoons. He is overwhelmed with so many requests. “He tells me: mom, there are a lot of drawings, I have many orders, but he is taking it easy,” said Rodríguez.

Magdalena Rodriguez and her son Samuel show the drawings he collects in a folder made by him and his grandmother. Photo: Liz Gascon.

Among the pending drawings, there is one that excites Samuel. A man asked him for a cartoon to give to a child who cannot afford it. Since then, he has the illusion of drawing a smile on the little customer’s face.

Scholarship for an artist

Thanks to this announcement on social networks, Samuel was granted a scholarship by the academy from the Venezuelan visual artist Oscar Olivares, who recognized his attitude and determination.

“What is relevant is not only how Samuel draws today, but to see that he dreams of being and achieving more. We can see his commitment to a better future, and he must have the tools to achieve it. Buy his drawings today because very soon they may be worth much more than $1,” Olivares tweeted.

Samuel starts distance drawing classes in February. “I am grateful to everyone for how receptive they were to him,” his mother maintained.

Without school

After the first blackout of 2019, Rodríguez left with her son to Colombia to save him from malnutrition. At the time, Samuel weighed 27 kilos, 12 kilos less than a child his age. They both settled in the Meta municipality, and he managed to recover. In December of that same year, Rodríguez became unemployed and decided to return to Venezuela.

The change did not sit well with Samuel. No educational institution in Barquisimeto recognized the last grade of primary school he attended in Colombia, and the boy has already completed a year without returning to school.

The regime Education Ministry, however, has not been as helpful as his Twitter followers. “Here they told me that this was not valid and that I had to go back to fifth grade, they told me it was an order from the Ministry of Education. He does not want to because he is already 14 years old, and there are younger children there,” Rodriguez pointed out.

Also, he lost weight again. His family was having trouble covering the six servings of food they need per day or lacking gas and electricity to prepare lunch or dinner on time. In mid-2020, her mom also took to social media for input. One follower created a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe that allowed Samuel to resume his diet and assist the nutritionist.

Colors are his refuge

Samuel takes refuge in drawing since he was five years old, his mother said. In preschool, he colored all the pages in his notebooks or any recycling sheet to continue his creations. Nine years later, Samuel’s passion for drawing has multiplied99

Now, Samuel found in the drawing an alternative to help his mother to get food for him and his other two brothers.

Rodríguez prays for her son to have the future he wants. “I see him as a great artist with the favor of God and the Virgin. I know that he will be a great human being because he has very noble feelings,” his mother reiterated.

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