'After 6 days in forest, long registration line's no problem'

Lining up for hours in the rain and heat may seem onerous to many but not for Venezuelan mother Roysin Maiz who says the wait was nothing compared to the six days she spent living in the forests after a perilous boat ride.

In an exclusive interview with Guardian Media, Maiz revealed how she paid US$100 to a Venezuelan man to make the trip to Trinidad where she lived for six days in the forests of Palo Seco, before being rescued by a Hindu couple.

Surviving only on coconuts and water, Maiz said she was so thankful to reach one of the registration centres that she did not mind the conditions she met. 

She revealed that her son will turn 15 next month and she was hoping that she could find a job and send back money to buy medicine for her mother and a gift for her son. She has one other child, an 11-year-old daughter. 

Both children are saying with Maiz's ailing mother in Tucupita.

Maiz, who worked in a Venezuelan school, said she did not earn enough money to support her family so she and her husband decided to come to Trinidad. Unlike wealthy Venezuelans, they could not make the trip legally. 

They pooled together all of their savings and organized to come to Trinidad. They arrived on May 3o.

The man was supposed to arrange a taxi driver to pick them up from Palo Seco but when they docked at sea, there was no one there. Maiz said they became lost in the forests. 

Speaking via Google translate, Maiz said they were tired and hungry.

"We ate coconuts and we stayed in the forests. Then after several days of hiding and waiting, they decided to come out of the bushes and seek help. We met a nice Hindu couple. They give us clothes and food. They told us where to go," she added.

They connected with other Venezuelans and an apartment was organized for them at Bon Aventure, Gasparillo.

Maiz said she intended to look for work because she wanted to get help for other relatives in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, more than 600 people gathered at the Achievers Banquet Hall, waiting for registration.

Cherry Bucaren, an administrator in Venezuela, who now works in a vegetable stall in Mon Desir said the process was running smoothly.

She said she was paying $1,500 a month to stay in an apartment. Bucaren explained that Venezuelans have been transferring money through Western Union for their relatives in Venezuela.

Another Venezuelan Hector Guzman said he was fortunate that he got a job as a construction worker, adding that he wanted to make a better life for his family. Alberto D`Grilarte said he came to the venue from 6 pm on Tuesday and spent the Eid holiday outside the Achievers Building. 

He said to make the process run smoothly, they used markers to write the numbers on their arms so it would be easier for the immigration to process them quicker. he said each registration took no less than 15 minutes.

Rabia Mohammed who distributed over 1,000 apples and five cases of bottled water outside the venue, called on the government to put up another tent to assist nursing mothers and young children. She said it was inhumane to have the children suffering in the heat. Mohammed said she came to the venue on Tuesday and realized there was a need to distribute food and drinks to the Venezuelans.

A source at Immigration said over 600 people arrived to register in San Fernando on Thursday.

- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Kristian De Silva.

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