“I hope we’re one of the last countries to ever go through something like this.” María Solias speaks with Ballpit. She is an author and illustrator from Venezuela, a country she describes as beautiful but nothing more than a ghost of what it used to be. When we first discovered María’s work, we didn’t realise how powerful they were. Like she says, “The calamity that has unfold over our country is so absurd it’s hard to explain.”
In María‘s hometown Táchira, there’s no public transportation, simply because there’s hardly any spare parts for vehicles to find or afford. “There’s food, medicine and even cash shortages. Basic items like toothpaste or toilet paper are considered a luxury.” shares Maria. With a minimum wage of below $3 USD, pretending to have a normal life was impossible for most. If one could afford it, one would have to handle a crazy amount of money just to buy a few items at a grocery store.
There’s one thing the town isn’t short of, garbage. The only mountains an artist like María would see are the mounds of garbage that line the streets. She shares, “there’s no such a thing as a Garbage truck either.” All of this makes it difficult to comprehend but María explains to Ballpit, “I feel like its one of those situations you have to live to be able to completely comprehend.”
Seeing “hundreds of people waiting in line to buy a single bag of rice and dozens of people waiting in line for a restaurant to take out the trash so they can scavenge” is something most will find difficult to relate. One would imagine that young students would spend their time on social media fooling around, but not in Venezuela. María tells Ballpit, “I’m so fed up with things like: “why don’t you guys fight for your country” like there wasn’t thousands of students killed by the military after months and months of war-like protests.”.
With a broken country behind them, Venezuelans are leaving in search of a better future. Some dream of earning enough money to bring out remaining family members while some others remit money to help others figure things out for a while. “All of us with the pieces of our home we could fit inside a bag to built a second chance somewhere.”, María speaks about her illustration of a girl with her home on her back.
Despite leaving Venezuela, María isn’t feeling hopeful about the forced migration. She has family and beloved friends still remain back home. Her frustration and melancholy channelled as fuel for her work. She tells Ballpit that she hopes her work will help others relate. “Not only my fellow Venezuelans” she says, “but everyone going through something similar.”.
María shares, “Migration is sadly our generations biggest problem and not because of migration per se, but for the reasons behind it. It’s really weird to be seen through the eyes of a tragedy, people either hate you, is scared of you or kinda feel sorry at first glance but kindness has always been on the right side of history and someday all of this will be just that, history.”.
We’re incredibly thankful to have María memorialise the situation in Venezuela through her paintings and words. Follow her on Instagram @mariasolias where you can keep up to date with her journey.