Venezuela180° began with a small group of committed people and a desire to support Venezuela from abroad.
Initially we attempted to respond to the humanitarian crisis through sending aid: food, medicines and hygienic products. We began with one 40 kg box of food and medicines and after three years have now sent a total of 12,000 kg.
As the crisis stagnated, resulting in more than 5 million people fleeing the country and almost 80% of Venezuelans without access to basic foods, we understood this wasn't a sustainable solution. Instead of creating dependencies, we needed to empower people to adapt to the ever-changing situation in Venezuela.
And so we began this new chapter of our organization, partnering with groups and organizations in Venezuela to build and support impactful community development projects. We learned much during these past three years, lessons that are now the core of our new approach to supporting Venezuela.
Community development is only successful when all members are involved in its growth. Community development solutions need to be holistic, but sometimes starting small and staying small can have a larger impact than larger-scale projects. It's easier to effect change at the local level, community by community, than to try to change a whole country. Solutions don't need to be big, they need to be sustainable. Don’t stretch yourself thin.
When aid comes from a foreign country or outside the community, it's important to establish trust through transparency and accountability. If the people you are trying to help don't trust your work or your vision, your project is doomed to fail. You need buy-in from people to deliver the support they ultimately need, not what you imagine them to need. It's all about the community, not about you. There is no room for ego.
Members of the community must be the leaders of community development efforts, and foreign organizations need to provide support, not the other way around. Good community development should provide opportunities for people to grow and develop themselves as individuals, to punch above their weight and be at the forefront of those changes. As an organization, our goal is to support initiatives that create those opportunities and give people the tools to improve their lives and the lives of others, fostering innovation and change for the better.
Together these three elements lay the foundation for sustainable development work. We've chosen these as our core values, the three pillars from which we will help build a future for Venezuela that is full of opportunity.