Living Her Last Days In Peace

“I would feel really peaceful and happy if I had some food for every day, for several weeks.”

It was something of a dream for Hermilda, to have access to a few weeks worth of food, to be free from the worry of starving.

“I ask God to send me his help. I know that God will help me very soon.”

When we bring relief to families in Iraq, Syria, Mexico, or Venezuela, many times we meet people having their very worst day ever.


They’re fleeing war or violence, or they’ve fallen through the cracks and been ignored.

I think it’s fair to say that Hermilda experienced her very worst day ever, every day, for 10 years.

When we met at her home in Venezuela, she was 80. She had been a widow for 10 years. “My husband, my best friend—he died in a hospital because there was no medicine. I had to sell everything to save him, but I couldn’t. I sold my clothes, I sold a fridge, and I couldn’t save him.”

Hermilda gave everything she had to save her husband, but in the end, she left the hospital with empty arms.

Because of the kindness of her neighbors, she was able to eat a few times a week. And then there was her monthly government pension—$2.14 per month. With that, she could buy a few pieces of bread and 6 eggs.

Her home—barely a home after the roof blew off and she had to sleep on a tarp-covered couch—didn’t provide much comfort.

She was barely able to survive, really.

“What are your hopes, Hermilda?” we asked at our first meeting.

“I would feel really peaceful and happy if I had some food for every day, for several weeks.”

Hermilda, tired and sick, dreamed of “living her last days in peace.”

Our team quickly planned how to help our new friend. Getting food to her was at the top of the list. And last week, our team had the great joy of bringing Hermilda a food pack that you provided—enough to last well over a month. Protein-rich foods like eggs and beans. Shelf-stable food she didn’t need to worry about spoiling. Enough to free her mind from worry.

Hermilda with the food pack delivered to her door on the backs of volunteers. Photo by Ronal Labrador Gelvis

“Hey Erin…” It was a late-night message from our team in Latin America. “Hermilda… she passed away today.”

The day after receiving her food parcel, Hermilda died. The illness she struggled with for so long, finally won over her tired body. Our team who spent time with her, they are heartbroken. And the rest of us who knew her through her story of epic resilience, we are too.

At the same time, we are filled with gratitude. Hermilda lived her last days knowing she was loved and cared for. She knew that we listened to her, and came back to help. She knew she wouldn’t go hungry—her dream of having weeks of food in her home came true.

A lot of individual actions came together to make this miracle happen. Our partners in Venezuela found Hermilda in a sea of need. You were moved to give, and shared your grocery money so someone else could eat, too. Volunteers from her area carried heavy packs of food on their backs to her house—some days gas is more than $20 a gallon now and hard to find. But they insisted on getting food to her anyway.

Together we gave a precious woman her greatest dream.

Sometimes we form relationships with those we serve, and it changes their lives forever. There are young moms and dads in places like Iraq, Iran, and Libya who were only able to grow up and have a family because they received a lifesaving heart surgery when we first started our work. There are refugees scattered across the globe, healing and building into their new communities, because of food they received from you, after they were starved by ISIS. There are businesses started, now thriving, which have sustained families through difficult economic times.

Sometimes we form relationships with those we serve, and it’s only for a short time. And we are the ones whose lives are changed forever.

Peace and grace to you, Hermilda. You were loved.