I was raised in Venezuela, where my parents taught me that if I had the means and resources to improve my surroundings I shouldn’t hesitate to do so. That belief led me to found Nutriendo El Futuro.
By the end of 2017, protest and civil unrest had become a part of our daily lives in Venezuela. Hundreds were killed and thousands had been injured. The outmigration that had trickled slowly for many years swelled exponentially into a wave of people fleeing the country. At that time, I was president of the Student Council Federation of my university, and as my time in the position was coming to an end, my team and I began to think on ways to continue to have an impact after graduating.
Our conversations about the humanitarian crisis our country was facing led Monica Zambrano, Laura Morey, Ana Luisa Cordia, Ana Cristina Romano and myself to co-found Nutriendo El Futuro - or Nurturing the Future.
Three years have passed but our commitment to the cause has only grown stronger. I am not going to lie, it has been complicated, and at times we even had to question ourselves if it is worth continuing the program or if we are having the impact we wanted to have, but no matter what we always find reasons to continue with this project that has changed our lives for the best.
Our main lessons so far, are the following:
Involve the community from day one. Make them part of the organization and the design of the project, because your idea might not align with their needs or preferences. For example, at first we wanted to serve lunch, but the community members suggested it was better to do dinner, because that would guarantee the children will go to school. Keep asking the community for feedback and solicit ideas for projects they want to develop.
Don’t be afraid of conflict. Disagreements are inevitable; therefore don’t avoid confrontation when different points of view are presented, but embrace them since they will expand your perspectives and allow you to grow.
Impact is not the same as product. There tends to be a confusion between the product you are delivering and the impact it has. Nutriendo El Futuro’s impact is not measured by how many meals we have provided, but by how much we have managed to reduce the levels of malnutrition.
Quality over quantity. It is better to focus on quality and services than on reach, meaning it is better to have a deeper impact than a superficial one.
Have a multidimensional team. Surround yourself with a team that complements you. Make a team that has common goals, but where everyone brings an added value to the table. Part of the success of Nutriendo el Futuro comes from the fact that our team members have different skills that allow us to work in perfect harmony, balancing out our weaknesses and enhancing our strengths.
I do not know what the future holds for us. Three years ago, I never thought we would be able to offer the plethora of services we are providing, or that we were going to be able to grow in the middle of a pandemic. The only thing I am certain of is the fact that this project will eventually change. One day Nutriendo El Futuro will not be a necessity because we will be living in a country where parents can cover their children's meals and education with their salary. We hope to be remembered as a shed of light during our darkest hour and as a group of people who believed that there is no such thing as not enough impact.