Mérida, January 14th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) –Today Venezuela celebrated five years of the “Negra Hipolita Mission”, the Bolivarian Revolution’s social program aimed at caring for those Venezuelans in the most extreme situations of critical poverty. The homeless, and those addicted to drugs, are some of the Mission’s principal beneficiaries.
After five years in operation, the Mission currently operates 26 ‘Centers of Social Inclusion’ in which, for 2010, over 3,390 people were treated by the Mission’s ‘System of Attention for Citizens Living on the Streets.’
Providing 24-hour a day access to professional care for 1,200 people at any given time, these Centers attend to “socially excluded” persons identified by the Negra Hipolita Brigades – multidisciplinary teams of trained health and welfare specialists who work with local communities and legal authorities to identify “people in need.”
In addition to the Mission’s treatment centers, an additional 46 “Negra Hipolita Tents” are currently distributed throughout the country. There, information is provided to the general public on the Mission’s goals, objectives and services available.The Mission also operates a free-call hotline where those in need or those looking to aid friends and family can call and access the Mission’s services.
Radio Mundial reported that in 2010 the Mission organized 20 artistic groups made up of 300 people living at ‘Centers of Social Inclusion’ and that 90% of all Venezuelans currently cared for by the Mission are involved in some sort of sports and recreation. In addition, all beneficiaries have accessed some degree of capacity-building (literacy programs, job training, social reinsertion and productive work) since become involved.
To mark the five year anniversary of the Mission, a concert was organized today entitled, “Culture as an Expression of Inclusion.” Held in the Caracas neighborhood of Catia, performers came entirely from the Mission’s patient-organized artistic groups.
For 2011, three additional Centers of Social Inclusion are to be built by April (with capacity for 240 people in recovery) while the national government is soon expected to create a “National Fund for Socio-Production” with the objective of financing the Mission’s economically productive projects. Also, in conjunction with Venezuela’s National Statistics Institute, the Mission plans to conduct a national census of all those who are currently homeless.
The Mission uses a three-phased approach to social reinsertion: 1) Identifying and conducting an initial assessment of the medical, psychiatric and social condition of each “excluded” citizen, identifying the possible need for “rehabilitation”; 2) Providing an all-in rehabilitation process (food, clothes, shelter as well as medical care, job training, support groups, etc.); and 3) Guaranteeing a therapeutic process of accompaniment in which the newly integrated citizen can re-connect to the Mission as they develop themselves as healthy members of society.
Negra Hipolita was an Afro-Venezuelan slave owned by the family of Simón Bolívar. Due to his own mother’s illness, Bolívar was breastfed by Hipolita and is said to have held great esteem for her as a result of the care and attention she provided to him as a young, rebellious child. In 1825, in a letter written to his sister Maria Antonia, he refers to “our mother Hipolita” and insists that she be cared for by the Bolívar family.