2022 Davis Grant Recipients - Ana and Ruth
Puntos Solidarios: On our Way to Sustainability
Ana Vasquez, MPP’22, and Ruth Castillo, MPP’23, are both international students from Venezuela studying at the Harris School of Public Policy. They will use their grant for the project Puntos Solidarios: On our Way to Sustainability to ensure children from low-income communities in Venezuela have access to quality education in a safe environment. In addition, funds from this grant will help address issues of childhood malnutrition and other root causes of violence.
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!
We are thrilled to share that phase 1 of our project, installation of solar panels, has officially started! This week we are starting to receive the supply of equipment, components, and materials for the construction of a DC backup system, consisting of a DC/AC inverter together with an AGM battery bank and polycrystalline photovoltaic modules. Additionally, the installation of a hybrid power generation system for refrigeration system, electrical rotating loads, resistive loads, and others such as General lighting, microwaves, refrigerators, among others is being implemented. The system, due to its construction, allows the inclusion of other equipment associated with general operation during power outages, which in Venezuela are quite common with even a daily frequency. In this sense, phase 1 of the program seeks to provide autonomy, security, and protection to equipment and assets, allowing continuity in operations through for Puntos Solidarios day to day activities. Lastly, engineering, start-up, tests, and measurements with the aim of validating the correct operation of the system and executing the opening of the guarantee of the installation and the associated equipment will be enhanced by our allies IntelPower. Join us in check in how the installation comes up to put us a step closer towards our sustainability as we keep feeding the minds, hopes and dreams of children in Caracas!
This week we selected the students with an assessment exam for the educational program!
With the help of a leading school, the goal is to provide online classes that can be fully shared in some of our facilities. 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 that are taught in school to help in covering the teacher’s scarcity in the country for the public education sector in Venezuela. The program will provide the academic content at a special rate, and we will train our volunteers as teachers later this week. This is going to be possible thanks to the previous installation of adequate hardware to have a proper educational experience, as well as energy trough solar panels to provide primary power, satellite internet, and other resources. Join us in our journey towards sustainability!