Zoraida always received us with a child-like smile. She was the “mother” of the local San Luis association FAHUN (Fundación Amigos de Huntington), an association founded in 2017 by young people at risk for HD in Maracaibo. Zoraida acted as the Secretary of the organization, and she often brought a sense of hope and confidence to the team, ourselves included, when difficulties arose.
Zoraida was extremely well connected in the community, and her presence opened many doors. Together we organized a lot of events for the patients and for the kids, and I always found comfort knowing she was around. San Luis is not an easy neighborhood to work in, and having Zoraida by our side always made me feel more comfortable.
We danced together, visited and cared for many patients, provided for the street kids, and struggled when a patient died in isolation. We shared many moments of anger, desperation, frustration, but also of joy, hope and the peace that having done something good brings to one‘s heart. Zoraida would often call me at all hours of the day, never remembering the time difference between Venezuela and Los Angeles, to ask for help.
Someone would inevitably reach out to her for assistance, whether medical or for food. She would advocate for their needs and was always thinking of how to get more assistance from the local institutions. Impatient, obstinate, and with a great sense of humor, she brought the community to us and made us feel a part of it.
Zoraida was a friend, a colleague, and a symbol of perseverance. When we started working together, having someone of her stature in our circle of collaborators made me feel that we have finally been accepted by the community. We will miss her a lot. A heart attack took her away from us, and she leaves a big void not only in our hearts, but in the heart of her HD community.
Rest in peace, Zoraida.