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.
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". 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.
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.
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.
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.
Although the political conditions in Venezuela continue to be uncertain, we’ve had a very successful quarter thanks mostly to our donors and our Venezuelan partners.
The news from Venezuela is bad and not getting any better. Refugees have overwhelmed the region's neighbours, blackouts have produced more disruptions and deaths, and the political scene -which seemed clearer at the beginning of the year- is as confusing as ever.
On the 15th of January at the Royal College of Surgeons in London we had our AGM where we presented 2018 results. It was a very exciting opportunity to meet old and new friends and to share with them our achievements and the challenges we face in 2019 both in Venezuela and in the UK.
At the end of a very successful year at Healing Venezuela, we are humbled by all the support and solidarity we have received from so many of you. Too many to mention in a short email.
At the end of the third quarter, Venezuela continues its downward spiral, but international pressure is mounting and the Government is starting to show some signs of openness to foreign aid. As always, we hope that the country will recover soon.
As you might have read in the press and social media, at the end of the second quarter of 2018, the news from Venezuela is alarming. Our families and friends there are struggling to cope with the crisis and the less fortunate are facing the worse humanitarian crisis that our country has ever had. We, at Healing Venezuela, are determined to make a difference and here is a summary of what we have achieved to in the second quarter of 2018.
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