- Title: Santa Claus brings holiday joy to massive Caracas shantytown
- Date: 11th December 2016
- Summary: CHILDREN FOLLOWING SANTA CLAUS THROUGH THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
- Embargoed: 26th December 2016 19:56
- Keywords: Venezuela Caracas food crisis Christmas Santa Santa Claus
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Reuters ID: LVA00B5CFW9QB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Santa Claus brought a little bit of holiday cheer to one of Latin America's largest shantytowns in Caracas as sang Christmas songs and handed out holiday food to families in need on Sunday (December 11).
Joel Valencia, the director of La Fundacion en los Barrios (The Neighbourhood Foundation) strapped on a big Santa's belly, red suit, and beard and set out for the sprawling Petare slum, a hillside maze of red-brick homes and humble shacks on the eastern outskirts of Caracas.
"It's December and Christmas isn't just about happiness and parties, but also about coming together, solidarity and that's what we're trying to do here. We're going back to those values and making the community and future generations aware of the different realities there are in the neighbourhood that need to be taken care of," Valencia said.
Valencia led flocks of children through 11 of Caracas' poorest neighbourhoods delivering food and a bit of respite from an economic crisis that has led to nation-wide shortages of the most basic goods from food to medicine, which have left millions hungry.
One little girl, Helen Ramirez, told Reuters her Christmas wish was for her family to be fed and her community clean.
"That my family has food and that my community is clean and that he brings me a present," Ramirez said.
Other neighbours said they were happy to see jolly old Saint Nick bringing tidings of joy during difficult times.
"I think it's great. It's a break from what's going on. Just look, the people are at least happy despite the crisis and everything we are going through," Petare resident Eli Luz said.
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