News from Venezuela are 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.
Unfortunately, the Customs services were disrupted along with everything else, which meant we had to slow down the delivery of medical supplies during the first quarter and we took the opportunity to strengthen our projects on the ground in Venezuela, as well as our activities in the UK.
We expect to increase the volume of shipments during the next few months, but it's becoming clear that there are better ways to achieve the charity's objectives.
During Q1 2019, we shipped to Venezuela 80kg of medical supplies to hospitals in rural areas and in Caracas, including glucose test strips for children with type 1 diabetes and menstrual cups for women and girls. We were also relieved to hear that 1065kg of supplies that we shipped last December by sea jointly with Ven Da Tu Mano - a Spanish NGO- finally arrived at Caracas and Maracaibo.
We have scaled up our stress-management programme by taking on a part-time instructor to join Pierina Mariño who has been working with us from 2017. They delivered programmes designed by The Art of Living and during the first quarter, more than 300 people in state schools and government offices benefited from these programmes.
During 1Q 2019, in association withVen Da Tu Mano and Medicos Unidos por Venezuela, we supported 100 Junior Doctors with a small scholarship of €10 per month.
As conditions worsen, we are now reviewing this programme to find ways to improve its effectiveness
Over the last two years, about 90% of HIV sufferers in Venezuela have either had no treatment at all or have experienced a shortage of their drugs. Since 2016 the National Resistance Plan, a surveillance system to assess HIV virus mutations and drugs resistance in Venezuela has collapsed. We have now decided to finance the rebuilding of the Plan. This project will help doctors and nurses choose the most effective medicines to treat HIV patients.
During 1Q 2019 we increased the number of high-spec cancer tests we sponsor. We were supporting about 35 tests per quarter, but this has now increased to 76. We work with Fundavida, an NGO in Venezuela, and have received moving testimonials from the people we have helped, especially children.
As the humanitarian crisis deepens in Venezuela, we have increased our efforts to explain what's going on in the country. Two of the trustees were on news programmes on BBC and Sky News and our doctor, Alejandro Arenas-Pinto, was invited twice to a Parliamentary committee to give evidence on the crisis. We also gave interviews to several national and international newspapers. We were honoured when Human Rights Watchchose us as screening partner for the movie "It's all good" by a Venezuela director, Tuki Jencquel, on the collapsing health system.
As the charity keeps growing and more Venezuelans in the UK get involved, it has become clear that we need to expand our structure in a systematic way. We have appointed 14 Ambassadors led by Sofia Leventis who will assist in fundraising programmes, speak on behalf of the charity and assist the trustees in their day-to-day activities.
Yet again we are humbled by the support we keep receiving. Every donor, large and small believes in our work and have made a significant difference to many people's lives. We also had some very successful (and fun!) fundraising events such as the London Landmarks Half -Marathon were our runners and their generous sponsors raised over £12,000! There are so many people to thank and we try to do it one by one, so if you haven't received an email or a message for your donation, please be patient. We will contact you soon. Thank you all for your support!
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.
We had a successful first quarter, both from a fundraising point of view and because we achieved our objectives.
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