Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and we hope you are all enjoying the longer days and the bright yellow patches of daffodils.
This Newsletter comes with fresh news from the ground. We were in Venezuela a few weeks ago and thus able to see at first-hand the impact of our work. We met key partners and stakeholders and established useful contacts. The trip provided a mixture of satisfaction for what we had achieved and sadness at how much still needs to be done. We were very moved by the testimonies of some of the doctors and patients we met. Venezuela remains a challenging place for providing medical care to the whole population, but it also has extraordinary people who are committed to that goal. Here is our first Newsletter of 2023, where we tell you what we did during these last three months and how we did it.
In Guaraunos, a remote village in rural Venezuela, we have developed a programme that is now delivering three meals a day, five days a week, to 100 children at risk of malnutrition. The local community is so organised and efficient that despite continuous blackouts, two-digit inflation and fuel shortages, the programme has now been running for four years with very few interruptions. Since we started, with the support of our volunteers in the village, we have delivered more than 200,000 meals to the most vulnerable children of Guaraunos.
During our trip to Venezuela, one of the most moving testimonies came from a doctor in the maternal and child care hospital, Pastor Oropeza, in a densely populated part of Caracas. “You have no idea the impact your water treatment plant has had,” she said. “Since you installed it, not one single baby has got ill because of waterborne diseases. It made such a difference”. Since 2018, we have installed water treatment plants in the kitchens of three large hospitals and also three smaller plants in emergency rooms etc. All told, we estimate around 100,000 people benefited from this programme.
Skyrocketing inflation has reduced the value of salaries of junior doctors to the point where they are earning roughly the equivalent of $40 per month. We decided to reduce the number of doctors benefiting our programme from 140 to 100 while doubling the sponsorship from $25 to $50. It’s still a pitifully small amount for the hard work these doctors do in very challenging circumstances: shifts of 48 hours, unreliable supplies of medicines and medical sundries, power cuts, poor living conditions -and a staggering number of patients who need their care. When we asked the doctors how many people they see in a shift, the answer varied between 50 and 200! Even so, when we met them, they were cheerful, determined to make a difference and very grateful. To keep them going, our support is absolutely crucial. During the first quarter of the year, around 30,000 individual patients were treated in hospitals by our junior doctors. Since we started this programme in 2018, roughly 500,000 of the poorest Venezuelans have been helped by their work.
During the first quarter, we concentrated on improving the effectiveness of our contribution to hospitals, engaging two engineering companies to assess the technical aspects of our work and identify the best suppliers of equipment.
Awareness continues to be a crucial part of our work. Venezuela’s crisis is a neglected and forgotten one. We need to keep reminding people what is going on in the country and how much can be achieved by small, grassroots NGOs such as Healing Venezuela. We were invited to a reception organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Latin America in the UK Parliament. We are thankful to the Latin America Tourist Association, LATA Foundation and Mike Menzies MP for a lovely Spring Equinox evening at the House of Commons.
HOW WE DID IT
The beginning of the year has been successful in terms of fundraising. We received several donations from companies and larger foundations, and we are extremely grateful to them. Our network of smaller donors keeps growing, and we can’t thank them enough for their continuous support.
We have to end this Newsletter, though, with a sad note. Many Venezuelans who had to flee the country because of the humanitarian crisis have died during their journey. Others are trafficked, especially women and teenage girls. They don’t make the news. A few days ago, seven Venezuelans died in a fire at a refugee centre on the border between Mexico and the US. To their families, our sincerest condolences.
HOW CAN YOU HELP
We are a small charity, and yet we have achieved a lot. We don’t receive support from any government, we are strictly neutral and firmly apolitical. Also, we don’t have overhead or offices, and all the extras, such as trips, stationery etc., are paid for by the trustees themselves. Of the funds that we raise, 98% goes to our programmes on the ground.
This week, we have joined Global Giving “Little By Little” campaign to raise funds for our Junior Doctors. For each donation up to $50, GlobalGiving will match 50%. Big changes often come from many small acts of kindness. Please consider supporting us by donating here:
Your money will be well spent!