CITY COLLEGE–On the second floor of a small therapy office in Woodside, Queens, six children sat around a round wooden table, bringing a white square of paper to life with watercolors. The volunteer leading the art class had asked them to paint the place they wished to be. Mothers flowed into the room once the group therapy session ended to see their little ones.
“Mami! Mami! Mira lo que hice! (Look at what I did)” said an eight-year-old boy running to his mother. The mother stared. Her eyes filled with saudade (longing). She kneeled down to look at the Venezuelan flag he had painted and pulled her son into an embrace. “This is a safe place for them after all the trauma they have been through,” said Rosa Caballero, co-founder of the non-profit organization, Venezuelan Alliance.
The 28-year-old mother did not want us to use their names. She and her son were a part of the recent wave of 21,000 Venezuelan migrants that arrived in New York City. Volunteers and non-profit organizations like the Venezuelan Alliance have provided services to help. “It’s not like other established immigrant groups. Venezuelans often feel isolated or alone,” Caballero said.