Mejor Venezuela Society and SAMAN Program (Caritas de Venezuela)
When we decided to create Mejor Venezuela we asked ourselves what we could do and how, and especially how to do it from Vancouver, located in the far Pacific Northwest of Canada. Many ideas arose, we all began to imagine possible projects, the problem was how to materialize them being thousands of kilometers from our native country. Where to start?
We soon realized that one of the most shocking aspects of the current Venezuelan situation, the one that is more difficult to believe, has to do with the humanitarian crisis. In recent years, whenever any of us went to visit Venezuela, we were impressed by the deterioration that we saw everywhere. We also began to read in the newspapers and see in the television news or in videos circulating on the Internet images that definitely did not belong to our history as a country, at least not to a good part of our twentieth century: men, women and children rummaging in the trash to eat, terrible deficiencies of medicine in hospitals, sick people dying from diseases that had been overcome decades ago, starving children, in a state of malnutrition.
How is it possible that a country with such immense natural resources as Venezuela, until a few decades ago one of the most prosperous economies of the continent, could have reached this? We decided that we had to do something to help alleviate this situation, at least one small thing, to put a minimum grain of sand in order to help even one human being of the thousands in dire needs. We decided to focus on one of the most painful aspects of the crisis: children, one of the two sectors, together with the elderly, more vulnerable in humanitarian crises.
It is difficult to get an idea of the magnitude of the tragedy that is going through the country, especially for the foreigner, but to put the Venezuelan crisis in context, it is enough to look at these figures: a quarter of the population requires humanitarian aid, 1.3 million children under 5 years requires nutritional assistance, 2.8 million people need medical assistance, 4.3 million people need water and sanitation assistance, there is an 85% shortage of medicines and drugs, food production only covers 25% of the national demand (Source: CNN, These are the impressive figures of the crisis in Venezuela, Mariana Toro Nader, May 3, 2019)
Well, the next step was to find out how to get the help to reach the people in need, how to overcome the risk that the aid, upon entering Venezuela, was confiscated in the customs of the country and did not reach its final recipients. Long story short, suffice it to say that we knocked on several doors, considered different options, until we learned of the existence of the Cáritas Venezuela Foundation, the Venezuelan branch of the Cáritas International Foundation, an organization of the Catholic Church dedicated to combat poverty, exclusion, intolerance and discrimination. More specifically, we made contact with Cáritas Barinas, which operates in the state of this name, and has been developing the SAMAN Program (Monitoring, Warning and Nutrition and Health Care System) for several years, dedicated to addressing the problem of child malnutrition.
The resources that Mejor Venezuela Society manages to collect in Canada go directly to finance the SAMAN Program, which has already benefited more than 800 children in the several municipalities Barinas and Merida states. This program is supervised by a team of nutritionists and health specialists, and is implemented for 8 weeks to each child who is diagnosed with a malnutrition condition. In 8 weeks, thanks to a combination of properly selected foods, medicines and antiparasites, the child manages to get out of the malnutrition condition and return to normal health.