Solidarity Brigade to Caracas

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Analysis of PROVIDA

Hey Comrades.

On August first, Brigada primera visited a street kids project that had been operating in the slums of Peurto Ordaz for the past 11 years. Basically it is an organisation independant of the government which works with street kids in order to "humanise their environment and insert them into society".

PROVIDA (PROyecto VIDAs or Protecting Life) is run by liberation theologists and employs teachers, psychiatrists, graphic designers and administrative staff, relying on donations to survive. It is currently trying to get government funding and we have been told that the federal government has expressed interest in incorporating it with mission Adentro.

From what I understand, with the limited resources they have, PROVIDA currently engages street children with a mobile school that was donated to them from a Belgian benefactor, helping them to accomplish acheivable tasks to raise their self esteem in a larger plan to eventually insert them into society.

There are about 10 000 street children in the area and PROVIDA has contact with 35-40 of them. The program isn´t about teaching them to read, write or understand their situation, but aims to make them feel as though they can achieve something and improve their self esteem. The ultimate aim is to eventually insert these children into society though they didn´t explain how this had been acheived or the specific mechanism through which to achieve this. They did have a drop in centre at one stage but financial crisis meant that this had to be abandoned.

The organisation can be described as a liberal charity. It is isolated in one city and there is little community involvement in its implementation. They themselves described the project as non political and expressed preference to working independantly to the government. It´s basically a similar set up to a non government aide organisation that you might find in any third world country.

The people of PROVIDA are dedicated to helping these children, many of whom are drug addicts, prostitutes, beggars and subject to domestic and sexual violence and in the process of revolution, these issues need to be addressed. However the lack of mass community involvement and the nonpolitical NGO stance isolates this organisation from the massive endogenous revolutionary machinery sweeping across Venezuela. Until PROVIDA can be incorporated into the Bolivarian Revolution nationally, perhaps in conjunction with missions Robinson and Adentro, it remains a liberal construct with limited application in the bigger scheme of the revolution.

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