Madonna Badillo, a 49-year-old transgender woman, helps LGBT Venezuelan refugees flee to Colombia. Badillo lives in Maicao, Colombia, near the border of Colombia, and shares her home with seven Venezuelan sex workers. She doesn’t ask for rent, just that they help out with groceries, according to Aljazeera.
“Because of what’s happening in Venezuela, and as our neighbour country and members of the LGBT community, I find myself wanting to help them and give them refuge,” Badillo said, according to Aljazeera.
1 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia since 2017, leaving behind political persecution, extreme food and medicine shortages. But not every refugee gets supported in Colombia. One of the most vulnerable groups like LGBT has very few allies in Colombia.
Two years ago, when the migration started from Venezuela to Colombia, she noticed two transwomen, Champagne and Nicole, on the street of Maicao, hungry and homeless. She took her in and that when she started her service.
“No one wanted to rent them a room because there is a lot of discrimination towards our population,” says Badillo at her home. “They were so skinny. Because of the situation [in Venezuela], they go hungry.”
The two-bedroom home has only basic furnishing, a few electric fans, and a muddy backyard reeking of sewage. In the living room stands a life-size figurine of Jesus.
“My house isn’t a palace, but they are able to live freely and I don’t charge them for rent or anything, so they help out buying food and things,” she says.
“Because of what’s happening in Venezuela, and as our neighbour country and members of the LGBT community, I find myself wanting to help them and give them refuge.” She has given home to 25 migrants in the last 2 years.
The story behind the name “Madonna”
Born to a Venezuelan Wayuu mother and a Colombian Guna father, Badillo says her cross-border indigenous heritage motivates her to continue helping.
Before transitioning, her name was Moniker Badillo but she adopted “Madonna” name 3 years ago when she started transitioning because she considers the pop star “Madonna Ciccone” as her alter ego.
“She has been my alter ego since I was very young, during the 80s. I identify with her. She’s a chameleon,” Badillo says.
“When I present myself to people, I believe they are thinking: ‘Who’s that girl?” she says with a laugh, alluding to her favourite Madonna song.
Source – aljazeera.com