Ernesto works for AVSI Ecuador and, since August 2019, has been part of the team implementing UNHCR-funded Activados project . The project’s goal is to foster local integration, peaceful coexistence, and protect Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Manta and Portoviejo. AVSI Ecuador will also use market research to improve access to formal work for Venezuelan refugees and the local Ecuadorian community.
If before the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees and Ecuadorians living in these neighborhoods were struggling to survive, now the situation is worse. If lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are challenging to follow for the average person, it is worse for Venezuelan refugees, since they earn a living working informally on the streets: performing, selling newspapers and baked goods or other food items.