South Jordan, Utah—A group of QFloors employees spent a Saturday in December sorting and labeling hundreds of coats. They were the result of a QFloors-sponsored coat drive and were shipped to Venezuelan refugees in Cucuta, Columbia, fleeing the political unrest, deprivation and chaos of the country.
This was a deeply personal undertaking for QFloors’ B2B specialist Antonio Ortega. He spearheaded the humanitarian project as a way of doing something for family and friends who were suffering deeply.
The political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has had a tragic cost for Ortega. Just a few weeks ago, his brother passed away during the massive blackout in country. While details are vague, it appears to have been due to a stroke triggered by dehydration, due to power and water supplies being cut off for six days. “The infrastructures are failing because of years of mismanagement and corruption by government entities,” Ortega said. “My brother is only one of many, many victims.”
The loss of his brother is not the only impact he has experienced. From 2002 until 2014, Ortega was the owner of a business software company in Venezuela. Concerned by the corruption he saw in the Maduro-led government, he became politically involved in the opposition party. In 2011 he helped Leopoldo Lopez to establish a political party and was getting ready to run for mayor of his city.
This decision came with consequences. In July 2014, his house was burned down as he and his family were in it. They were able to escape and he, his wife and his son were eventually granted legal political asylum in the United States.
Ortega has been working for QFloors for almost two years. His technical experience has been a great asset to the company and its customers. “Antonio is awesome, and we’re lucky to have him on our QFloors team,” said Chad Ogden, QFloors president. “But he is living a story that is just hard to comprehend. Our hearts go out to him and even more so for the people who are suffering so greatly in Venezuela. The coat drive was just something we as a company could do to try to help and support in our small way.”
When Ortega is not at work, he continues to do what he can to advocate for greater freedom in Venezuela and for the safety of loved ones. Over the years, he has held meetings with political leaders and has helped organize Venezuelans in several cities in the U.S. to raise awareness. In September, he met with then-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and others at the UN General Assembly in NYC to discuss the crisis.