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Unbound stories

Venezuelan families face inflation, shortages

May 14, 2014

In each of the countries where Unbound works we’re presented with unique challenges and opportunities. In Venezuela, we’re based in Barquisimeto and work with more than 5,500 families who face one of the highest inflation rates in the world, shortages of basic necessities, a high rate of violent crime and an unstable political situation.

Venezuelan children
A group of sponsored children wait to take part in a health day activity.

Oil is the largest export of the Venezuelan economy. While only a small percentage of the population benefits from oil exports, the profit generated from it is one of the largest factors in the economy's health.

Much of the food grown in Venezuela is exported, causing prices locally to go up.

The country also commonly imports most of the products needed by local consumers. Because of the import and export practices in place in Venezuela, there is a shortage of basic items such as flour, milk, butter and toilet paper, as well as medical supplies.

Crime is also a primary concern. Though official reports vary on the actual numbers, according to Reuters, Venezuela is near the top of the list worldwide in the rate of homicides per year. Political unrest and gang activity are among the major contributors to violence.

"Rapid inflation, political division and shortages of products in Venezuela are impacting our families," said Ana Martinez, a project director for Unbound who works with projects in Latin America. "There are also community social problems like a lack of a spirit of unity, tolerance or compassion, violence, and a lack of responsibility and respect for one another.

"We want to promote values formation, capacity building, support and compassion to overcome the social and economic obstacles faced by families in Venezuela," Martinez continued. "We know that with their effort and working hard in their communities, they can gain a lot of positive results."

The Unbound staff in Venezuela works hand in hand with the families of sponsored children on a variety of initiatives to help them overcome the many challenges they face.

The Barquisimeto project has organized a series of lectures for young mothers to learn about life choices, values, financial planning and a variety of other topics. The project has also created programs for the youth promoting music, dance, theater, painting, crafts, sports and other forms of artistic talent.

Venezuelan mothers
Mothers of sponsored children in Venezuela untie knots to represent
the meaning of Unbound in their lives as they break through poverty.

Unbound helps provide for basic educational needs like uniforms, shoes and school supplies. Because of the high inflation, families' choices in their selection of sponsorship benefits may be more limited than in other parts of the world, and they may even have to save a few months' worth of benefits for more expensive needs, such as tuition, books or larger household items.

According to Reinaldo Noriega, the Barquisimeto project coordinator, one of the main goals for 2014 is helping mothers develop productive skills, entrepreneurship and personal saving so they can become more self-sufficient.

"Much remains to be done," said Noriega, "but it is a tangible way to sow hope in our families and let them know that their efforts ‘to be more’ in their communities rather than ‘to have more’ is worthwhile. We want them to know that it’s possible to change things for the better, and at Unbound we believe they can succeed."

Despite the challenges, the families we work with are full of hope. They envision a better future for their children and for themselves. Unbound is there to partner with these families as they work to achieve their dreams and to support them through their struggles.

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