Metro residents plan supply drive for Venezuelans as President Maduro blocks aid

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The economic crisis in Venezuela seems to be getting worse by the day, as a political showdown between the nation's President, Nicolas Maduro, and interim President Juan Guaido drags on.

Maduro announced Thursday he's closing the border to Brazil to block aid.

But that's not deterring some people in the Kansas City area who are collecting supplies for their native country.

"I'm fortunate to be here. I know my family is not. They are suffering. There's no food; you can`t find food anywhere, no eggs, no rice, really basic stuff," Jessica Isaula said.

"They don't care that people are dying every day, kids, old people," Gladys Maldonado said.

It's a grassroots efforts for some of the estimated 1,500 Venezuelan-Americans and Venezuelan immigrants living in and around Kansas City. They're collecting medical supplies and other essentials to send to Venezuela.

Rossana Seres risked traveling to see her family last year, crossing the border in Colombia.

"I saw the crisis and how the people was living the country and passing the bridge with their family and all the hopes and all their lives on their shoulders," she said.

Seres said her uncle died due to a lack of medicine. A new report Thursday said mosquito-borne illnesses and others are now surging in the country.

"The children are dying in the hospital because there's not any medicine," Seres said.

This weekend the supply drive will go from an Overland Park garage to an Olathe church. Medical supplies and other essentials will be collected from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Indian Creek Church on Black Bob Road.

The women are working with the International Venezuelan Coaliton in Miami to ship the supplies to a neighboring nation of Venezuela. They hope they will arrive as pressure mounts from leaders around the world to let the humanitarian aid in.

"Hopefully we pray to God that everything is finished that the government just leaves and will let us be free," Maldonado said.

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