Love In A Dangerous Time
When you meet Brayan and Divanid, you would never know from their contagious laughter and ready, open smiles that at the young ages of 22 and 21 they have already lived through famine, extreme violence, and the most desperate of circumstances. Growing up as childhood friends together in Caracas, Venezuela, they both remember happy childhoods with a lot of love and laughter. It wasn’t until after high school, one day when Divanid came over to his parents’ house for a party, that Brayan finally confessed his love to Divanid and kissed her for the very first time. And that was it: they became a couple.
In This Proud Land We Grew Up Strong
After graduating high school, Brayan began to study communications and work closely with his father, who was a videographer for one of the major television channels in Caracas. Divanid finished high school and began studying business, and was at the very top of all her classes–she loved it. As bright as they are, the future began to darken for them in Venezuela. Brayan’s father was forced to quit the television channel as the violence and murder count grew higher and higher (especially against journalists and anyone who dared to speak out against the regime–or even just film what was happening in the streets of Caracas).
When Divanid’s younger sister graduated high school, the only way she was able to continue on to the university was if Divanid dropped out and started working. At first, her plan worked and her sister was able to start studying. But the value of the currency in Venezuela began to drop faster and faster, and soon she was simply not able to make enough money even to eat–let alone pay for her sister’s studies.
Meet Me In A Land Of Hope And Dreams
Still a teenager herself, Divanid faced some weighty decisions. She decided she must leave her home, family, and country to seek a better opportunity for all of them. She was determined to see her sister finish university and become a professional, and decided to try her chances in Peru. She wanted Brayan to go with her, but knew that his attachment to his family was too strong to allow him to leave the country–he was convinced that he would be able to help them more by staying and working. At the last minute, her cousin’s wife decided to come with her, along with their two tiny daughters, hoping against hope that they would be able to obtain plane tickets. Those tickets were already next to impossible to buy, and most people fleeing the country had to go by land–sitting in a bus for multiple days, or literally walking out of the country. With two very small children in tow, that was not a viable option.
By nothing short of a miracle, all four of them were able to obtain plane tickets out of the country, and they arrived in Lima just hours later instead of weeks later. For several months Divanid lived with her cousin and his family, all in one tiny room, until she was finally able to make enough money to send home to her family, eat, and rent her own room. She had found a “good job” in a clothing store (a job that paid her the minimum wage of roughly $280 dollars a month, rather than the half wages that many Venezuelans are forced to accept) and began to work her way up the hierarchy there–as always, determined to be at the top of her class.
Meanwhile, the situation in Venezuela continued to get worse, and Brayan’s job was no longer enough to pay for his own food, let alone enough to help feed his family. So he decided to leave everything and go to Peru as well–although every day that had passed just made it more difficult to escape his own country, especially by plane. All the money he was able to scrape together from friends and relatives was only enough to buy a one-way ticket, but no one was permitted to leave the country without a return ticket. He knew a guy who knew another guy, and somehow they were able to come up with a false return ticket that somehow passed inspection, and he was allowed to leave the country, with no return in sight. He had finally made it to Lima, and reunited at last with Divanid.
Don’t Give Up
Once in Lima Brayan began to search for jobs, but no matter what he tried he couldn’t find work–for weeks. Frustrated and desperate, he started selling homemade juices in the street, and learned to eat on just 10 soles a day (about $3). One day, a man came by and kicked over his whole stand of juices before he had sold any–just for spite. Enraged and humiliated, he had no choice but to clean up the mess and return empty-handed to the tiny room he shared with Divanid. When she got home that night he told her what he had decided–he was going to return to Venezuela, discouraged and defeated.
Divanid told him she loved him and believed in him, and begged him not to lose faith and give up. The next day, she went to ask her boss for another job. The strictest rule he had was that there couldn’t be any workplace relationships, so she told him that her “cousin” desperately needed work and was willing to do anything–even manual labor. The following week found Brayan working in the warehouse, sorting clothing and lifting loads–carrying hundreds of pounds every day. The back-breaking work was worth it because he finally had a steady paycheck. Minimum wage was more than he had hoped for. Finally, he was able to start sending money home to his parents so his family could eat and so his younger sister wouldn’t have to drop out of school. They were surviving on almost nothing, but finally they were surviving.
There’s A Place Where We Belong
Brayan and Divanid kept working hard and never gave up. Today, they are dreaming about their own business rather than breaking their backs for someone else to profit. Divanid is saving up to go back to business school.
Daily life is becoming more than just survival, and now they’re starting to think about building a future. Brayan saved up for 2 months and surprised Divanid with a $25 ring.
“I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said, down on one knee. “Do you want to?” Divanid burst into happy tears and hugged him fiercely. Finally, all their hopes and dreams have a shot at becoming reality–and you can be a part of making it happen.