BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela (AP) — Samuel Andrés Mendoza carefully chooses from dozens of colored pencils spread out on his kitchen table, humming a reggaeton song as he deftly applies contrast to the Dragon Ball anime character taking shape on his sketch pad.
It is not just a pastime anymore for the 14-year-old. Without his mother’s knowledge, he began selling his drawings on his Twitter page to help the family get by and to pay for a special diet doctors say he needs in Venezuela’s troubled economy.
“Hi. I’m Samuel, I’m selling my drawings for $1 to help my mom with my diet, buy her a house and a shop so she won’t work on the street and get sick with COVID-19 and buy peanut butter for me. Thank you, sir and madam,” he tweeted along with photos of four drawings.
It caught the eye of many and he now has more than 15,000 followers, selling dozens of drawings he has worked up at a table between a worn-out couch and a rusting refrigerator in the small family home in Barquisimeto, about five hours west of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
“The truth is I did not know that I was going to draw like that, but time has passed, and I have managed to paint for real,” Samuel said this month, showing his finished drawing of Dragon Ball’s Goku. “And here it is.”
In a crisis-wracked country where workers earn an average of $2 per month, his sales can make a big difference for a family budget strained by his need for high-protein foods to deal with a form of malnutrition.