The Simón Bolívar Foundation (SBF), a non-profit, private foundation of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, has awarded seven grants totaling $100,000. The recipients of the grants are all nutrition and health-focused nonprofits that are targeting their efforts on the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
Focusing on helping vulnerable individuals in and from Venezuela, the nonprofit grant winners come from nutrition, health care services, health education and medical backgrounds.
Amid the humanitarian and nutrition crisis in Venezuela, the SBF small grants program was set up in October 2019 as a direct response to the plight of Venezuelans living both in and out of the country.
SBF sought to become a “catalyst” that encourages organizations to connect resources and capabilities. As a result, SBF and the companies awarded can pool efforts, resources and innovations to meet the humanitarian needs of people living in Venezuela and the Venezuelan refugees uprooted by the humanitarian crisis.
Commenting on the aim of the SBF, CITGO’s Chairwoman Luisa Palacios, enthused: "We seek to empower these seven inspiring organizations that have boots on the ground with resources that will have an immediate impact.”
With further support planned to continue LATAM’s efforts to support the Venezuelan population and Venezuelan refugees displaced from the country, Palacios added: "These are just the first grants of a new program that seeks to create a network of hope to lessen the suffering of individuals affected by the complex humanitarian crisis in Venezuela."
The seven non-profits awarded SBF grants center on various areas within nutrition, health and medicine:
● Meals4hope focuses on promoting the prevention and treatment of child malnutrition
● Cuatro Por Venezuela provides folic acid and iron supplements to pregnant women in Venezuela
● Latin Ladies Foundation of Houston strives to reduce the suffering experienced from Huntington's Disease by providing nutritional supplements and sanitary supplies
● Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation Colombia works to increase access to health care services, lower maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, and help avoid complications in high-risk pregnancies. The organization is working to support approximately 350 migrant Venezuelan women.
● Driscoll Children's Hospital centers on Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) in newborns. Led by Venezuelan doctors, the project strives to introduce an efficient CCHD screening in Venezuela and by doing so, improve the diagnostic gap in determining the severe birth defect.
● Saludos Connection is plowing its efforts into repairing and updating two damaged operating rooms and a pre-anesthetic area. The functional improvements will increase the capacity for patient treatment and offer an area for critical training for medical students. A second project will focus on incentivizing doctors who voluntarily provide medical services to children in the remote areas of one of the poorest states in Venezuela.
● FIBUSPAM gives free direct medical, dental and vision care. Offering priority access to 300 Venezuelan refugees, the Ecuador-based clinic will develop awareness of this service among the Venezuelan refugee populations in Ecuador to promote access to high-quality medical care.
A core focus for several of these LATAM grant winners is nutritional supplement and service provision.
Meals4hope is one such organization focusing on both the nutrition and health of vulnerable children and pregnant/lactating women in Venezuela. By training and helping communities in Venezuela, along with the country’s health workers, the project strives to raise awareness, prevention and treatment of child malnutrition.
Cuatro Por Venezuela is providing approximately 200 pregnant women in Venezuela with folic acid and iron supplements as it strives to help with the prevention of premature births and newborns with low birth weights.
Latin Ladies Foundation of Houston is centering its efforts on individuals in Venezuela with Huntington's Disease. The nonprofit’s project aims to reduce their suffering by equipping facilities with both nutritional supplements and sanitary supplies.
Announcing their recent award online, the Latin Ladies Foundation of Houston stated it had received a certificate, “in appreciation for your outstanding efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela”.
Ensuring food security
In April 2019, NutraIngredients-LATAM reported how both food security and malnutrition is on the rise in Venezuela, creating a nutritional crisis in the country. A total of 72% of the country’s children in emergency care at public hospitals were present due to poor nutrition associated with inappropriate food consumption, a paper published in the Social Science and Medicine stated, citing data from the Venezuelan Society of Childcare and Pediatrics.
Later in the year, Ricardo Rapallo, FAO Senior Policy Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean reported that the deterioration of food security in Venezuela is “palpable”, recognizing the country’s recession period and reduced number of export products as coinciding with its “significant increase in undernourishment”.