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Teachers asked these kids to draw a recent meal. Their illustrations broke my heart.

What sounds like life after a natural disaster is another day in cash-strapped Venezuela.

Soldiers control the crowd at shops as supermarket shelves sit empty.

Desperate and thirsty, people have been siphoning water from pools and tanker trucks.

Electricity is rationed and people are forced to go without basic medicine or medical supplies.


The national guard controls people as they line up to buy eggs. Photo by Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images.

What sounds like life after a natural disaster is another day in cash-strapped Venezuela.

Vast oil reserves kept Venezuela afloat for decades. The country even budgeted the price of oil at $40 a barrel, creating a huge surplus as prices soared above $100. But a majority of that surplus was spent — or, worse, stolen. And Venezuela can't even make up the difference by boosting production, as public workers are on a two-day workweek to preserve the overtaxed power grid.

Venezuelans stand in line to buy food from a market in Caracas. Photo by Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images.

As riots and demonstrations break out over the lack of food and basic products, kids aren't immune from the stress and strife of a country in turmoil.

Students at Padre Jose Maria Velaz, a Catholic school in western Caracas, were literally fainting from hunger. Teachers asked the children to describe or illustrate their most recent meals and what they expected to have next.

"It's dramatic, what we are going through," school Director Maria Hidalgo told Reuters. "What kind of Venezuela are we going to have in 10 years?"

Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

These six drawings are a heartbreaking look at the financial crisis from the perspective of the most vulnerable: children.

1. With little food to go around, meals are small and simple.

This student had cooked plantain for breakfast, soup and a juice for lunch, and a cookie for dinner.

Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

2. Some only have one meal a day to look forward to.

"Just spaghetti," wrote this student.

Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

3. The repetition is often monotonous, but it's better than nothing.

"For breakfast, lunch, and dinner I had corn cake with cheese," one student wrote.

Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

4. Which is, sadly, what most students have.

The student drew a corn cake with an egg, but the teacher wrote a troubling addendum: "No breakfast."

Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

5. Because the economic crisis is so widespread, skipping meals is the new norm.

This student remembered each simple meal in great detail.

"I had plantain and egg with butter for breakfast, for lunch I had soup or pasta with butter, for dinner on one day I had bread, on another plantain and meat, and on one day we had nothing."

Photo by Carlos Jasso/Reuters.

As sad and worrisome as the economic crisis and its effects are, there are people in place to help.

The Venezuelan government continues to block humanitarian aid from foreign NGOs from entering the country. It's unclear why President Nicolás Maduro has taken these drastic measures, but some suggest it's an attempt to hide his country's dire state of affairs.

However, there are easy ways to assist kids and families in need.

Connect with groups like Humanitarian Aid for Venezuela or The Borgen Project, both of which work to fight extreme poverty. You can volunteer for The Borgen Project right from your couch, as the nonprofit offers multiple telecommute volunteer opportunities.

And get social.Outside pressure and media attention on the government could force chance and help resolve this crisis. Tweet, talk, read, share, and signal-boost local voices.

No matter where we are, we can all do our part to give kids everywhere a fair shot.

Venezuelans cross from San Antonio del Táchira, Venezuela, to Cúcuta, Colombia, to take advantage of the 12-hour border opening to buy food and medicine. Photo by Schneyder Mendoza/AFP/Getty Images.

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Native Siberian shares what daily life entails in the coldest village on Earth

See how the people of Yakutia, Siberia take showers, do laundry, go to school and more in minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

A man in the Yakutia region of Siberia takes an ice bath in minus 50 degrees Celsius.

For most of us, waking up to a temperature of minus 50 degrees would spell catastrophe. Normal life would come to a screeching halt, we'd be scrambling to deal with frozen pipes and power outages, school and work would be canceled and weather warnings would tell us not to venture outside due to frostbite risk.

But in the Yakutia region of Siberia, that's just an average winter day where life goes on as usual.

When you live in the coldest inhabited area on Earth, your entire life is arranged around dealing with ridiculously cold temperatures. Villages don't have running water because freezing pipes wouldn't allow for water treatment. Kids go to school unless the temp drops below minus 55 degrees Celsius (which is then considered dangerous). Showering involves spending hours stoking a fire in the bathhouse to create a steamy, warm room.

Native Siberian Kiun B. has created a series of documentary short films detailing what daily life is like in Yakutia's frigid winters. She was born and raised in Yakutsk, Siberia, widely recognized as the coldest city on Earth, where average winter temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. As seen in her videos, smaller villages in the Yakutia region regularly dip down into the negative 50s, with the lowest recorded temp in the Yakut village of Oymayakon reaching a mindblowing minus 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

The popularity of Kiun's YouTube channel demonstrates how curious people are about life in such harsh conditions, as her videos have been viewed by tens of millions of people in the past year alone.

Check out this video detailing a day in the life of a family in a Yakutia village.

Can you imagine going out to use an outhouse in minus 40 degrees? Oof.

Another of Kiun's videos goes into more detail about how people shower and do laundry in the region. You might assume they wouldn't line-dry their laundry outdoors, but they do.

Watch:

What do people wear to protect themselves from the negative temperatures? Frostbite is a real risk, so it's important to have the right kinds of clothing and outdoor gear to stay safe and relatively comfortable.

Kiun shared some frigid fashion norms from Yakutsk, which include traditional fur hats and boots as well as lots of layers and down jackets.

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(Seriously, please don't try this at home.)

The way humans have learned to adapt to drastically different environments, from the sweltering tropics to the Arctic tundra, is incredible, and it's fascinating to get a close-up look at how people make life work in those extremes. Thank you, Kiun B., for giving us a glimpse of what it's like to experience life in the dead of winter in the world's coldest inhabited places.