By Genesis Carrero Soto
Caracas, Jan 6 (EFE).- In Venezuela, the Three Kings on Wednesday visited the country’s main public cemetery to bring the joy of their colorful outfits and gifts to more than 80 children of a forgotten community living on the grounds who received them barefoot and with euphoric smiles.
Not even the crosses, tombstones, floral wreathes and all the gray marble of the Cementerio General del Sur dampened the colors of the capes of the trio dressed as the Three Kings, who walked – with a group of volunteers – through part of the cemetery’s 240 hectares (600 acres) to the Barrio Nuevo community located in western Caracas and which was established within the borders of the public burial ground.
Under the midday sun and loaded down with their regalia, crowns and bags of gifts, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar passed by tombs and climbed up a steep dirt road to be able to get to the neighborhood’s youngsters, who had gathered at a sports field that is being restored for local residents thanks to the support of community leaders.
Although the volunteers said that they were not bringing much in the way of gifts, the used clothing they distributed was in good condition and the candies and sweets and the pastries they shared with the residents were so important for the latter that many of them thanked the group with tears in their eyes, including Gloria Moreno, a Barrio Nuevo resident who works for the community.
“We’re really blessed,” Moreno told EFE, her voice quavering with emotion. According to her- having lived her entire life in this area where the streets are unpaved and the homes are made of cardboard, wood and zinc sheets – any support from any quarter is important.
The Three Kings distributed clothing and sweets to each of the children who ran to them to receive their presents when it was their turn.
Earlier, the trio had made a small tour through the streets of the sector to greet the adults and invite the youngsters to join the throng to receive presents.
Irvin Daniel Pacheco, one of the Three Kings, hailed the emotion of the community and the welcome the locals gave to him and his colleagues. He said that he’s been portraying one of the biblical personalities for the past two years and the most important thing is the excitement and the help they provide to the children.
“Little by little we’re doing something to be able to bring a smile to those kids and for the day of the Kings to be a pleasant day,” Pacheco told EFE, adding that as long as he lives he’ll continue being one of the Kings for Venezuelan kids.
“I’ve been here since I was four years old. I was born here. I’ve lived here all my life with my mom, my siblings. We’ve experienced very bad and very good things and, really, it’s a neighborhood that needs help, love. We’re like the forgotten ones,” Moreno said of her community.
The community leader said that about 140 families with 100 kids under age 12 live in the area, and they need many basic items, not having the support of any government agency despite the fact that they live on land that is part of the main Caracas public cemetery.
“We don’t have help from anywhere, but we ourselves work” for the community’s wellbeing, said Moreno, who dreams that one day a nursery school, a cultural center and a cafeteria will be built there for the Barrio Nuevo residents.
The abandonment in which she said the community exists is the reason why the Barrio Nuevo values initiatives like the visit of the Three Kings, an event organized by Angelo Rangel, one of the leaders of the El Cementerio zone.
Rangel told EFE that staging the event is a “joint effort” by local residents and that all donations of clothing and other items were contributed by people living in areas near the cemetery, who despite the difficulty of getting there from their homes, offer help to others.
“It’s not only the community that’s helping us, but rather it’s a part of the work we’re doing, part of the work is that we’re not blind to our reality,” Rangel said.
And although he admitted that this kind of event does not make a significant difference, given the serious difficulties facing Venezuelan families, Rangel and the volunteers who used the excuse of Three Kings Day to visit the needy children agreed that they will come back again to help them.