This Catholic mom and her family have made it their mission to serve migrants in great need.
Carmen runs a hostel in El Juncal, a small town in Ibambura, Ecuador. In the last four years, she’s become the “mother” of many Venezuelans who decide to leave their country and cross Colombia in search of a land that will welcome them and provide them with better living conditions.
Carmen Carcelén, or Carmela, or Candela, as she is called, earns her living as a fruit and vegetable vendor in Ipiales, in the region of the border with Colombia. She decided some time ago, together with her husband, to take in migrants. She gives them some free food and lodging so that they can eat, wash and rest before continuing their journey. One, two, two dozen, hundreds … now they’ve helped about 10,000 people.
An example for their children
She receives no state aid or corporate sponsorship. She does it because she wants to help these people.
She believes that her example is the best thing she can do for the formation of her children. She has eight of them — the oldest is 30 and the youngest is 12. Six of them are biologically hers and two were adopted because Carmen and her husband took care of them when their respective mothers died.
Carmen has no hired cook. She does everything herself with the help of her children. Some serve the meals to the migrants, while others converse with them and listen to them. Her guests are usually just passing through for a day, but for them this is a vital moment of help—so much so that UNHCR took notice of her work, and tweeted about her two years ago.