Valentina Oropeza


Susana Raffalli’s emergencies

Susana Raffall’s emergencies was originally published in Prodavinci on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

Image by Roberto Mata / RMTF

She was one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2020, according to the BBC. The first that measured child malnutrition in Venezuela during the humanitarian emergency.

—What is this, Mora?
—Hospital patient clothing? No, Mora. You cannot bring hospital clothes home.

Susana got frustrated when her family didn’t accompany her for a fair cause. Socially fair. They called her Mora because she was Alfredo’s twin. She put the children’s clothes in a bag, grabbed the guitar, and went to the Menca de Leoni Nutritional Recovery Center in El Cementerio, Caracas. She went with the nuns of the San José de Tarbes school in La Florida, where she studied high school. They only admitted girls. Alfredo was studying at another school. They were 15 years old.

The nuns took the third, fourth and fifth year girls to public hospitals and neighborhoods to do apostolate. They argued about the commitment to the poor influenced by liberation theology, a movement that spread in Latin America. Susana lit candles and sang at vigils for Monsignor Oscar Romero. They read his speeches. He was shot in the chest in the middle of a mass in El Salvador. He asked the military and police not to kill civilians to repress. It was 1980.
It was forbidden to bring food to the children of the Menca de Leoni. They only ate what the nutritionists prepared. Since she could not collaborate with the food, Susana chose the company. When she realized that the nurses served the food and left, she began to stay with the children. She chopped their food small, played the guitar and sang to them until they fell asleep. She cried when she was at home, never in front of them. It was the first time she had seen hungry children.

A year before graduating from high school, the twins discovered a secret about their mother. Leonor Arismendi was not a woman of closed doors, but for a long time she had locked herself in the studio every afternoon. Something was happening. One day she confessed that she was trying to get a high school degree due to a parasystem and needed help with mathematics. No one could know. Neither her father Pedro Arismendi, nor her husband Alcides Raffalli agreed that Leonor studied.

To continue reading Susana Raffall’s emergencies in Spanish, click here