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A search for a bearded monkey


From left to right: Dr. Stuart Framm, Dr. Dyan Summers and Maurizio Benazzo on the Cauro River in Venezuala.  Photo: Nick Day

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A search for a bearded monkey


From left to right: Dr. Stuart Framm, Dr. Dyan Summers and Maurizio Benazzo on the Cauro River in Venezuala.  Photo: Nick Day

HealthShare International started with a search for the Bearded Saki monkey scientifically known as Chiropotes israelita. In 2000, our executive director, Dyan Summers, a nurse practitioner and an amateur primatologist, was in the sixth year of her personal and ongoing attempt to see as many species of living primates as possible in her lifetime. Using what was essentially a random “throw the dart at a map” pattern, Venezuela became the next destination on her country list. 

Dyan contacted Venezuela’s award winning NOLS certified naturalist guide, Arturo Garcia, and contracted with him to create a special tropical rainforest expedition. The expedition, which started in the Caura River Basin of Southern Venezuela, required travel by dugout canoe deep into the jungle. During the expedition, the group stayed overnight at one of the Ye’kwana tribal villages known as Nichare.

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Caura River Basin in Venezuela


Photo © David J. Simchock

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Caura River Basin in Venezuela


Photo © David J. Simchock

 

During their stay in Nichare, Dyan and Arturo learned of the struggles that the village health workers of the tribe were facing due to lack of education and resources. They learned of the astonishingly high rates of infant mortality in the tribal communities; calculated to be over 20% at the time and one of the highest in the world. Malaria, Dengue fever, and venomous snakebites were also common. Dyan, Arturo, and the village brother and sister nurse team of Dennis and Aurora Caura made a decision to start a U.S.-based nongovernmental organization with the intent of providing education and material support to the community health workers throughout the Caura River Basin.

 
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Our Work with the Ye'Kwana and Sanema Communities


Photo © David J. Simchock

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Our Work with the Ye'Kwana and Sanema Communities


Photo © David J. Simchock

In collaboration with Kuyujani Tribal Council, HealthShare International created and implemented workshops by using the life-saving village health worker’s handbooks “Donde no hay Doctor” (Where there is No Doctor) and “Donde no hay Dentista” (Where there is no Dentist). HealthShare International recruited Venezuelan medical professionals as workshop volunteers and collaborated with the health ministry to provide continuing education to nurses village health care workers throughout the region. The nurses are continuing to use the textbooks as reference guides. The handbooks are excellent resources for the provision of rural medical care. To read more about these invaluable books and the Hesperian Foundation that produces them click here.

  • HealthShare International provided material support to community health posts in the form of equipment and in some cases, health ministry approved medications.
  • We administered a fund for emergency medical expenses when community members had to travel to the city for specialized care.
  • We funded the capital improvement of the river ambulance by providing financial support to allow for the purchase of a motor that was faster more compatible with the local river conditions.
  • We provided educational scholarships for primary and secondary education to fourteen tribal members throughout the region. The scholarship program required a signed commitment from the recipient that they would continue to work in/for the betterment of their local communities after graduation.

  • We provided a full scholarship (tuition, living expenses and a generous stipend) for secondary, post-secondary education and professional education for the elected tribal leader, Alberto Jose Rodriguez. It was the desire of Alberto Rodriguez to obtain a high level of education so that he could represent his tribal peoples in an effort to protect human rights, land rights and their intellectual property, including pharmaceutical knowledge. HealthShare International facilitated the process for Alberto to ultimately attend law school in Ciudad Bolivar (the largest port city near the Caura Region) and to become the first Ye’kwana to become a Venezuelan attorney. We formed a partnership with Carlos Zagala, Esq, a professor at the law school so that he could serve as Alberto’s mentor during the educational process.

HealthShare International recruited and collaborated with our partner organization, EarthBound, Inc., a US-based nonprofit organization that is dedicated to promoting Fair Trade for indigenous communities. EarthBound’s projects are aimed at facilitating the trade of locally produced handicrafts while ensuring human rights and environmental sustainability. EarthBound Inc. has continued to work closely with the communities of the Caura River Basin and has just returned from a successful working trip in May of 2016.

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Thank You


Photo Nick Day

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Thank You


Photo Nick Day

board of directors

Dyan Summers, DNP-BC, MPH
Executive Director & Founder
www.dyansummersdnp.com

Arturo Garcia
Associate Director & Co-Founder
alberguesanmiguel.com/en/inicio-2/

Maurizio Benazzo
President
www.scienceandnonduality.com

Nick Day
Vice President
www.conscious-pictures.com

Stuart Framm, MD
Medical Director
http://www.nyp.org/physician/srframm/

Enrique Gallego
Program Director
www.linkedin.com/in/enrique-gallego-60b3538

Amy Penfield, PhD
Program Advisor
sas.academia.edu/AmyPenfield

Vaughn Buffalo, Esq.
Legal Advisor
www.vbalaw.com/

Silvia Medina
Business Advisor
www.linkedin.com/in/smedina

Roxanne Elling RN, CWOCN
Secretary
www.linkedin.com/in/roxanne-elling-54417b2b

Jane Grimes, RN
Honorary Board Member
www.linkedin.com/in/jane-grimes-07aa6666


 

partners

 

Laurie Wilkins
EarthBound, Inc.
www.earthboundinc.org

Brenda Nims RN, BSN
EarthBound, Inc.
www.earthboundinc.org

volunteers

 

Stephen Baker
Michael Bazigos, PhD
Mary Brennan
Bethany Brown, LCSW
Debbie DePuy, RN
Elizabeth Ducat, RN

Dentist Ilich
Volga Gallego
Dentist Guillermo
Brian Houlihan
John Paul Kelly
Danielle Krieger, NP-BC
Keith Larson
Levi Malino

Mary Mangle RN, BSN
Angel Negro Maurera
Scott Newman, NP-BC
Byron Real, Esq.
Sol Solancha
Carlos Zagala, Esq.

 © David J. Simchock

 © David J. Simchock

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Until We Meet Again


Photo © David J. Simchock

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Until We Meet Again


Photo © David J. Simchock

HealthShare International made its last official organizational trip to Venezuela in 2015. The border crossing, although one of the most exciting for our group, ended up being quite unsafe.  Due to the rapidly changing political climate, economic collapse and change in Visa requirements, it became increasingly difficult to travel safely. Additionally, Arturo Garcia, the backbone and most trusted in-country leader of our organization had to relocate to Spain due to ongoing safety concerns. Arturo and his wife, Pierra Lo Curto Coelles are currently managing a lodge, Albergue San Miguel, for pilgrims on the French way of St. James in Spain. To learn more about their lodge and to make plans to visit Arturo and Pierra, click on any of Arturo’s link throughout this page.

Our partner organization, EarthBound, continues to work in the Caura River region supporting the artisan’s groups.

Although HealthShare International has officially put our Venezuela project on-hold as of 2015, we continue to maintain our legal 501(c)(3) status. We await the opportunity to either resume working in Venezuela or to begin a new and exciting project somewhere else in the world.

Although we say Farewell to Venezuela for now, we believe that everything is temporary and are incredibly grateful for the 15 years that we were able to work in solidarity with the local villages.

In the mean time, use the links for our Board members above to connect with them and see what incredible work they are doing!