Food Insecurity in VenezuelaAccording to the World Food Programme’s 2019 report, in the current Venezuelan economy, food insecurity has brought approximately 2.3 million Venezuelans into extreme poverty. Thankfully, international organizations are coming in to help mitigate this reality.

Food Insecurity and Poverty in Venezuela

Andres Burgos wakes up around 3 a.m. every day to prepare arepas: the Venezuela staple of cornbread. After filling his backpack, he rides his bicycle through the streets of Caracas, Venezuela. He looks for people prying into trash bags for food and offers them this bread stuffed with ham, cheese or vegetables. There are many others like Burgos that do the same in Venezuela’s major cities.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), levels of food insecurity are higher in 2021 than in the WFP study from 2019. In the same line of analysis, ENCOVI, a group of national universities, conducted a survey that concluded 74% of Venezuelan households face extreme poverty and food insecurity.

Due to the economic situation in the country, the pattern of consumption has forced the fragile population to change diet habits. Individuals are forced toward consuming more carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and beans. Items including meat, fish, eggs, cheese and vegetables are often too expensive for this sector of society. This type of diet leads to chronic malnutrition.

Addressing Food Insecurity in Venezuela

Numerous organizations are advocating to improve the lives of Venezuelans in need. Recently, Executive Director of the WFP David Beasley arrived in the country to set up the program: The Venezuela Humanitarian Response Plan with Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020. The goal is to reach out to the most vulnerable populations and include them in the program’s three objectives: to ensure the survival and well-being of the most vulnerable, to continue sustaining essential services and strengthening resilience and livelihoods and to strengthen institutional and community mechanisms to prevent, mitigate and respond to protection risks

Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation is another organization that collects funds with the goal of empowering vulnerable Venezuelans with the skills to provide for their own needs and ultimately improve their quality of life. Programs include a health program, a nutrition program and an empowerment program. The health program provides medicine and supplies and hosts educational health drives. The focus of the nutrition program is providing food staples, including formula, to orphanages, nursing homes, schools, hospitals and organizations that cook for the homeless. Additionally, the empowerment program offers training for success in micro-business and funds educational programs centered around children’s creativity, social dialogue and use of their free time.

GlobalGiving is a website that hosts groups and organizations that are collecting funds for a variety of social programs. This one site offers the ability to donate to programs targeting a large spectrum of vulnerable individuals, including the food insecure in Venezuela. Likewise, Alimenta la Solidaridad is an organization that develops sustainable solutions to the food security challenges of Venezuelan families. The organization promotes community organization and volunteer work as a way to provide daily lunches to children at risk of or experiencing a nutritional deficiency as a result of the complex humanitarian crisis.

These organizations are just a handful from the vast number working toward helping the most vulnerable populations of Venezuela who are facing food insecurity and poverty.

– Carlos Eduardo Velarde Vásquez
Photo: Flickr

5 More Projects from GlobalGiving
GlobalGiving is a worldwide nonprofit network that connects charities to potential donors. The website primarily acts as a platform for other nonprofits to gain traction in fundraising efforts. Since the organization’s establishment in 2002, it has helped raise over $552 million for projects in 170 countries. GlobalGiving vets each project thoroughly so donors can feel confident their money is going to those who need it most. Here are five GlobalGiving projects.

5 GlobalGiving Projects

  1. Of the top 10 most popular fundraising campaigns on the GlobalGiving website, six have dedicated themselves to natural disasters. Hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires have created an enormous need for relief in the past several years. In 2018, in the U.S. alone, the cost of natural disasters was $91 billion. The Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund is a campaign that has obtained 71,630 donations totaling over $12 million to provide aid in regard to natural disasters. Following this is the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, the Mexico Earthquake Relief Fund, The Island Spirit Fund, the Australia Wildfires Relief Fund and the Hurricane Dorian Relief and Recovery Fund. Initially, the money that these projects raised went toward immediate response efforts. These efforts included search and rescue, medical supplies, food and water. However, with the severity of damage that natural disasters have left in several areas, the long-term needs of impacted communities require additional funding. All the money that these GlobalGiving campaigns now raise goes exclusively toward local organizations helping communities rebuild and improve resources for future challenges. In total, these six disaster response campaigns have received 175,671 donations and raised over $32 million.
  2. The Coronavirus Relief Fund campaign has raised the most money on the GlobalGiving website. This is unsurprising, as COVID-19 has infected over 118 million people worldwide and over 2.6 million have died. Therefore, a definite need for relief exists as a result of the many consequences of the pandemic. That is why GlobalGiving is raising funds for the protective gear for frontline health workers, essential resources for families in need, education on prevention and access to necessary healthcare in low-resource communities.
  3. The Alawite Islamic Charity Organization is currently raising funds through GlobalGiving to provide 24 months of wages for the nurses working in its pediatric wing until it is possible to find new funding for this project. Lebanon is currently experiencing a financial crisis due to the debt that the nation’s government incurred following the country’s 1975-1990 civil war. At its worst, Lebanon’s currency was over L£7,000 to $1. As a result, the Alawite Islamic Charity Organization, which runs a free vaccination program serving over 5,000 people a month, is currently one of many organizations financially suffering amid this crisis. The nurses receiving support are crucial to distributing government-provided vaccinations to children in Lebanon. The name of the project is For Healthy Children & a Better Tomorrow, and it is seeking to raise $10,000.
  4. Educate a Girl, Educate a Nation – Sierra Leone is raising money to help educate young girls and break them out of the cycle of poverty. Girls in African countries often do not have access to the same educational opportunities as boys. In Sierra Leone specifically, the literacy rate for boys and girls over 15 years of age is drastically different at 51.6% and 34.9% respectively as of 2018. The organization running this campaign, Develop Africa Inc., uses the funds it raises to provide scholarships to girls most likely to drop out of school. This project also funds training for girls in vocational, computer literacy and business skills. Currently, GlobalGiving and Develop Africa Inc. have raised over $132,000 toward this initiative.
  5. Lighthouse Relief is responding to this crisis by raising funds for its project Advance Relief Efforts for Refugees in Greece. There are close to 100,000 people living in refugee camps in mainland Greece. Over 15,000 refugees arrived in 2020 alone. Often, people stranded in these camps experience difficult living conditions while having to wait months or years for a decision on their status. The project’s goal is to continue to fund efforts in “safe spaces” in Ritsona Camp. These efforts include building skills through camp volunteer programs, presenting young refugees with the opportunity to advocate for themselves and targetting programs to help grow psychosocial skills. Lighthouse Relief emphasizes the need for response efforts focused on empowering refugees. It has raised almost $100,000 toward its $111,000 goal.

GlobalGiving is an example of the remarkable power of change in the world. Millions of people have donated since 2002 and millions more experienced others’ kindness. To explore the 5,713 current GlobalGiving projects, visit the website.

– Emma Maytham
Photo: Flickr

The Tarahumara Runners of Sierra Madre mountain
Since the 16th century, the Tarahumara or Raramuri have been living in the alpine valleys of the Sierra Madre mountain range in Mexico. The name Raramuri roughly means “those who run fast.” Author and journalist Christopher McDougall popularized the tribe’s tradition of long-distance-running in his 2009 best-seller, “Born to Run.” The ethnography follows the search for a mysterious man nicknamed Caballo Blanco, who people said had spent many years living with the Tarahumara runners. McDougall’s book helps the Raramuri gain international recognition as a culture centered on running. Every day Tarahumara villagers traverse steep rocky paths to grow crops, herd goats or attend school while wearing thin leather sandals called huarache. However, the on-going spread of drug violence, mining, malnutrition and extreme poverty in the region threatened their livelihoods.

High and Dry in Copper Canyon

Some 60,000 Raramuri reside in Sierra Madre and many of them live in extreme poverty. Their lack of resources comes mainly from the community’s isolation. Most of Copper Canyon is still inaccessible by 4×4 vehicles and helicopters. This makes travel by foot and horseback the only reliable source of transportation in many parts of the region.

Food Crisis

With limited access to economic opportunities or primary education, 60 percent of the Tarahumara remain illiterate. In addition, many suffer from malnutrition. In 2011, a severe drought combined with an especially cold winter ruined villagers’ crop harvests. As a result, a health clinic in the small town of Creel treated 250 Tarahumara children of malnutrition, including 25 severe cases. Along with the spoiled crops, the slow response in sending aid from government officials may have worsened the famine conditions as well.

Caught in Drugs and Mining Disputes

The Tarahumara runners have also experienced difficulties due to Mexico’s ongoing drug war and mining disputes. State and Catholic Church authorities have blamed cartel gangs as the main problem from getting aid into the region. Drug traffickers will extort Raramuri villages into growing marijuana or poppies by threatening them with violence and land theft. Additionally, mining operations in the area have displaced the Raramuri.

Some suspect that Canadian corporation Minefinders displaced 60 families to open a silver and gold mine in the small town of Madera. Corruption likely played a role in the Raramuri’s exploitation. Consequently, the community has limited options in seeking relief and support from local governmental authorities.

The Silver Lining

The Mexican federal government is planning to set up a new education system in Copper Canyons that teaches Spanish. In addition, the Mexican federal government is planning to preserve the Raramuri indigenous language along with expanding schooling in the area and implementing a $95 million road-improvement plan that the World Bank cosponsored. This plan intends to connect the Tarahumara to nearby towns and to help them utilize their forested lands.

Nonprofit organizations are also joining the effort in helping the Raramuri. NGOs like GlobalGiving distributed food packages of corn, rice, beans, sugar and oil to 542 families in 2012. The extra food is essential during the region’s drought period and can act as a backup meal supply for up to 2 months. In addition, GlobalGiving delivered prenatal vitamins to pregnant women and new mothers to help prevent infant and maternal mortality. With the aid that the nonprofit gave, the Raramuri can continue to live healthy lives and inspire the globe with their ancient tradition of foot races.

Those Who Run Fast

The Raramuri live to run. A story exists that states that they escaped the Spanish conquistadors by running into the Sierra Madre mountains over 400 years ago. Additionally, they have run ever since. Lorena Rameriz, a 24-year-old Tarahumara ultra-runner, is the focus of a new Netflix documentary titled, “Lorena, Light-Footed Woman.” The film consists of Lorena’s homeland Copper Canyon. Also, the documentary features how her family and rural lifestyle have pushed her to become one of the top winning indigenous athletes of the era. She stands out from other runners because of the traditional skirt and sandals she wears while racing in 50 and 60-mile marathons. Lorena Rameriz is taking the running world by storm while embracing her Raramuri heritage.

Extreme poverty threatens the Raramuri still living in the high mountains of Mexico. But, government development programs and charity work are helping to make a difference. The people who “run fast” have inspired a new global sporting trend of minimal footgear and barefoot running. The Tarahumara runners continue to dominate in 90 km races. Hopefully, their villages will begin to win battles against poverty as well.

Henry Schrandt
Photo: Flickr

Created by former World Bank executives Mari Kuraishi and Dennis Whittle, GlobalGiving is a fundraising web site that connects non-profits and social entrepreneurs with people around the world who support their projects. GlobalGiving has raised $87,755,095 to fund more than 8,000 projects since 2002, working towards its mission of “catalyz[ing] a global market for ideas, information, and money that democratizes aid and philanthropy.” Listed below are four ways to utilize GlobalGiving.

1. Help Raise Money for a Project
Fundraisers are great opportunities to raise money for a project on GlobalGiving. The site allows individuals to organize fundraisers that commemorate birthdays, weddings, loved ones and other important events. Its also provides the option for members to involve their employers or other members of the online community.

2. Travel on a Service Trip or Volunteer Vacation
GlobalGiving’s In-the-Field Program recruits, trains and facilitates trips to GlobalGiving projects around the world. This opportunity allows individuals to understand the impact of GlobalGiving and to see the results grassroots funding can have. GlobalGiving also helps to connect volunteers with its partner organizations so that they can personally witness the application of GlobalGiving funds.

3. Study Abroad
Studying abroad offers university students a unique perspective regarding the world around them. GlobalGiving has an extensive list of partner organizations and projects with which students studying abroad can get involved. These programs offer a variety of opportunities, allowing students to gain course credit, take advantage of research opportunities, or gain valuable internship experience

4. Put a Project on GlobalGiving
Putting a project on GlobalGiving allows thousands of potential donors to learn more about it and contribute to fundraising efforts. In order to get a project to appear on GlobalGiving, individuals must nominate their organization and provide documentation regarding its non-profit status. Organizations that finish the application process successfully are then invited to participate in GlobalGiving’s Open Challenge, which lasts roughly 4 weeks and tests if the organization can meet fundraising thresholds. If an organization can raise at least $5,000 from 40 donors, it is invited to become a long-term member of GlobalGiving.

– Katie Bandera

Sources: Global Giving, SSI Review