We are Ana Camila Vasquez, Ruth Castillo, and Adriana Martella, three Master in Public Policy candidates from Caracas, Venezuela. We are thrilled to carry on the summer project Puntos Solidarios: On our Way to Sustainability, which will support the Non-Governmental Organization Puntos Solidarios in its journey of mitigating the effects of child malnutrition in Venezuela. Founded in 2017, the organization seeks to promote and boost spaces where the most vulnerable communities can organize themselves to deal with the crisis through solidarity. We strive to face a temporary child malnutrition and early development situation, provide a lasting solution, and promote the organization and citizen involvement to empower communities to address their problems and maintain peace.
We currently have four (4) Puntos Solidarios (Solidarity Hubs – as we call them in Spanish) in impoverished neighborhoods in the Baruta municipality in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. These are very complicated and dangerous areas where children do not have the opportunity to grow and develop decently. Therefore a long-term goal is to secure life-changing facilities where kids can grow with love, solidarity, and educational support, thanks to our group of volunteers. Leading mothers of each community direct these facilities and receive all the necessary equipment to cook every day for 150 children. Additionally, volunteers attend every week to help the children with academic support and recreational activities. These spots broke all the barriers of conflict and are an example of restoring healthy and adequate communities for the next generations of Venezuelans.
Although the organization has received support from other institutions to keep its operations going, like any other non-profit organization, its future sustainability is often pending on a thin thread. With the Davis Peace Projects for Peace, we aim to achieve a new milestone towards our goal of empowerment and education for children in Venezuela. We started a program with Universidad Simón Bolívar, one of the leading academic institutions in the country, where undergraduate students volunteer by teaching our children the essential lessons taught in school. Though this solution is valuable, it does not address the problem.
That’s why we want to extend our reach and empower our lines of work. With the help of a leading school, we will provide online classes that can be fully shared in some of our facilities. They will provide the academic content at a special rate, and we will train our volunteers as teachers. The next step is to find all the technical requirements to make this happen. This is an essential and sustainable solution to one of our Puntos Solidarios. We will install adequate hardware to have an excellent educational experience and energy through solar panels to provide primary power, satellite internet, and other resources. The solar panels and the satellite internet will be provided by a private company donating 30% of its cost. Also, they are contributing the monthly service for one year. With these savings, we will buy computers and purchase the online courses. In the short run, 40 children will start with the pilot plan for three months.
As we prepare to start our solidarity journey, we can’t help but feel excited, challenged, and honored by this award. This opportunity means to keep feeding children’s brains, hopes, and dreams in Venezuela during one of the most significant humanitarian crises in the region for the past two decades. We hope that Ruth will travel in the middle of August while Ana and Adriana stay in the US, supporting logistically and with the accountability of the project. Please join us in our journey!