A NOTE FROM OUR CHAIRMAN: RUPERT PENNANT-REA
As we look back at 2017, Healing Venezuela has had a year of unexpected growth and unwavering support. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and volunteers and despite months of political turmoil in Venezuela, we sent more than one tonne of medical supplies, from bandages to ultrasound machines. We bought vital medical equipment and have funded HIV and cancer diagnostic exams for low-income patients. One of our most successful initiatives, the stress management programme, has reached 251 hospital staff and patients. During 2017 we have also been approached by large institutions, both in the UK and internationally to partner with them. We are grateful for the enthusiastic support and sense of fun of our volunteers and we hope you will continue with your marvellous work in 2018.
WASTE NOT WASTED
We started collecting unwanted but still reusable medical supplies donated by medical institutions in the UK. We are working now with five surgeries, two hospitals and two emergency services in the UK. In Caracas, the capital, we have sent the donated supplies to three hospitals in Caracas, JM de los Rios, Algodonal and Clínico Universitario. We have also started to help three clinics in remote parts of Vargas and Guárico states.
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
"A picture is worth a thousand words". To prove that the material arrives, we ask institutions in Venezuela we support to send pictures and letters of acknowledgement. Sometimes, we send UK newspapers that don't circulate in Venezuela and we ask recipients to feature then in the photographs of the supplies they have received. Without this verification, we tell institutions that they will not receive any more supplies from us.
BOUGHT MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
Over time, we have built strong relationships with some institutions, in those cases, we have bought specific medical equipment they requested. That happened with the children's hospital Ortopédico Infantil, a well-known and privately run institution that focuses on for low-income families. We plan to keep sending such medical supplies along with the boxes of recycled material.
FUNDING HIV AND CANCER TESTS
Considering that Venezuela was once a pioneer in Latin America in the treatment of HIV, there is now an unprecedented lack of information on the number of HIV patients and other sexually transmitted diseases. As the crisis deepens, expensive tests are becoming inaccessible, especially for low-income patients. We have partnered with a Venezuelan NGO, Fundacion Vida, to sponsor HIV and cancer tests, and plan to expand this programme.
Venezuela´s crisis has had a major impact on the mental health of its citizens. Doctors and nurses are badly affected as they work under enormous pressure. With the support of an international NGO, The Art of Living, we have delivered stress management programmes in 6 hospitals for 251 people. Early results are very encouraging.
HOW WE DID IT
Healing Venezuela has had a great first year. None of it would have been possible without the extraordinary enthusiasm of our volunteers who ran more than 1000 km, (some in places as remote as Bhutan), rode hundreds of km and danced endlessly at the rhythm of Zumba and Salsa. We have also had a remarkable response from donors, including some with no previous connection to Venezuela. To all of you, a big thank you. We are determined to live up to your trust in us and to carry on helping Venezuela.