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Forest kids: Philanthropy in the heart of the Venezuelan Amazon Forest

Forest kids: Philanthropy in the heart of the Venezuelan Amazon Forest

Posted by Dubraswka Aguilar on July 30, 2014

Moved by their absolute love for indigenous communities which are isolated from the debacle of the modern world, a group of businessmen hs concentrated their efforts to provide medicines, clothes and toys to more than 1000 children through the project Forest Kids. Under the leadership of Tony Velásquez and Proeco Global Expediciones - a company that organizes expeditions to the most remote corners of the world -this project has been responsible for putting a smile in the children of the ethnic groups Pemón and Yanomami, located in small valley towns in Kamarata (Kavak, Kamarata, Awaraparu, Arawatoty, Santa María and Uruyen) in the South Venezuela.
 
The project makes two visits every year: the first one, at the beginning of the school year, in September, where the children are given school material, clothes and medicine. The second visit comes with a Christmas present.
 
The project currently has ''athlete businessmen'', as Velásquez calls them, a group integrated by doctors, lawyers, tourism specialists, engineers, one journalist, a representative of the UN Venezuela, a camera man and a photographer who, united by the same helping spirit, can face the long working hours needed to help these kids because of their excellent physical conditions.
 
Gathering tangible help 

The fund raising process starts three months before every visit, with the objective of gathering clothes - more than 3000 pieces this last time - medicines that usually come from ''ally labs'', school material for eight schools, food for everyone in the community and toys. ''There is no need to ask for money, we ask for tangible help, things we can take to the children, but there comes a moment when money is needed to build schools and dispensaries'' says Tony Velasquez, as he tells us that the fund raising process is getting more difficult, since public organisms and banks have refused to finance these kinds of projects given the economic situation in Venezuela. Nevertheless, the children of Forest Kids, has the loyal support of Procter & Gamble Venezuela, Toyota Services, UN in Venezuela, Acugrafics, Radiotrans and MRW, among other great Venezuelan and international companies. Once the required material is gathered, a long way to the depths of the Amazon Forest begins. Under the tutelage of Velásquez, planes are fully loaded to get to the Parima B sector, home of the Yanomami community, which is 150 km from the Orinoco. Last year, the Venezuelan Air Forces (FAB, in Spanish) were invited and the team commuted in Hercules with a 2000 tons load to Puerto Ayacucho, in the Amazon State, where they took another plane to Parima B. They were received with great gratitude expressions and typical indigenous dances. ''Nobody goes down there, but we are received with the greatest joy. Kis hide when tourists go or when there are people just passing by, but when we go we are welcomed with the biggest smiles'' tells Tony Velásquez to Panamerican World.

The reward of this hard work is precisely the warmth of that look that expresses deep thankfulness. ''One December we were delivering toys and I found a boy and gave give a box of cars. I was shocked by his reaction: he couldn't distinguish if the present was the box or the cars. Then I realized how blessed we are and the reason we should help those who have nothing. It fulfils my soul'' states Velásquez. Apart from the help itself, participating in the project Forest Kids require very good physical conditions and sport abilities to cope successfully with the long hours of work and avoiding the possible hazards in the heart of the forest, If this is not your case, you can help as a sponsor in www.proeco.com.ve The thankful smile of a child who received school materials or toys for its cognitive development is a dream that contains the hope of Future. 

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