The first 4 months of the program’s deployment are completed, as defined by Jenifer Castillo, the national leader of the initiative. These first steps have benefited 8 thousand people. The humblest of our people. The most vulnerable sectors, who suffer the worst of the consequences of the economic crisis and the perverse aggression to which our country is subjected. This is also the sector that suffers most from the consequences of internal contradictions. The most powerful result of this first stage is not only concrete aid, but also the consolidation of an organisational space, an instrument to continue organising and multiplying solidarity.
The ordering idea is the definition of the concept of solidarity: a solidarity with organizational results, which is born in the communities themselves. A solidarity that does not conceal dual intentions, like some humanitarian aid. A solidarity that is not about displaying a number or a photo. Solidarity that means planning, concrete activities, comprehensiveness and collective strength to launch the project. Above all, organisation.
For two weeks the national coordinator toured the municipalities of the three states where this program was born: Barinas, Táchira and Apure. In each municipality, the volunteers described the development and scope of the network so far. As well as the different action programs that were deployed. From sports and cultural days, to disease census, food combos, vaccination days, and supplies for production.
The task carried out by the volunteers is worthy of note: the consequences of the economic crisis strongly affects them as well, they are neighbours within their own communities, however, comments Jennifer, the willingness and humanitarian spirit are remarkable. They have two main functions; searching for the necessary resources and deploying the programme of action itself. At the organizational level, the popular solidarity aid network has strategic coordination, an organizing committee, and responsibility at the national, state, municipal, and parish levels. Of course this structure is ultimately composed of volunteers.
In the assessment of these first 4 months, the first thing that stands out is the integrality of the project, the work with communities, the solidarity deployment that continues beyond a single day, but rather generates a structure of solidarity where all together (we speak in feminine because 80% of those who make up the network are women), actions are planned based on an analysis of the most vulnerable communities, a course of action is outlined in these prioritized communities and tasks are distributed. In this assessment, Jennifer explains the identified strengths, such as the empathy generated by these actions in the neighbourhoods, the articulation between different community actors (communes, organizations, peasants, CLAP, among others) as well as the articulation in some cases with State institutions. “It is an integration of people who do not have borders, we are receiving international support, as in the case of organizations in Chile and Argentina, which help us mainly with medicines and production supplies,” says the national coordinator.
The Popular Solidarity Aid Network was created within the Hugo Chávez Popular Defense Brigades, as one more defense mechanism. “The participation of women, as we mentioned before, is a characteristic feature of the network. More than 80% of its members are women, the coordinators, those responsible at different levels, the volunteers. Caribbean women, willing to do anything, who demonstrate that the daughters of these soils are the first to put themselves in front of the most complex situations when it comes time to help the communities hardest hit. Women who identify with the network and work in it become leaders of their communities,” says Jeniffer.
In terms of project planning, the intention is to consolidate the work in the three states mentioned above, deploying in new municipalities in each of them. Solidify the work done and expand it. In order to do this, tasks are listed, such as searching for new volunteers, creating forms of communication that show the actions carried out, continuing to collect donations, opening collection centers for them, deploying a campaign with health, education and food axes, among other tasks and initiatives.
Like other similar initiatives in the area, the Red Popular de Ayuda Solidaria is an instrument of the people for the people. In a conflictive and complex zone such as the border zone, it demonstrates with concrete examples the possibilities that the organized community can achieve. Rescuing a humanist value that helps to overcome the effects of the crisis faced by the people: “We are going to face the situation with what we have, in these moments because of the blockade, because of the war, but also because of corruption in some cases, we cannot expect everything from the State, we have to resolve with what we have and organize ourselves to do it. Those who have social vision and want to defend their country can join the work,” concludes Jennifer, a leader who works every day for her community, for her country, for her people.