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Gabriela Gamboa, Cultural Affairs Specialist with the US Embassy in Caracas, requested FAVACA’s assistance in securing a Spanish-speaking fire management expert to present at a Fire Management Conference sponsored by the Bomberos Forestales de la Universidad de los Andes. In the last few years Venezuela has been inundated with thousands of wildfires each year, particularly during their intense dry season—threatening lives, property, and their national park system including Avila National Park. The urgent need to quell these fires resulted in the conference being well attended by nearly 400 firefighters and managers. This first-time event was held in Merida, Venezuela October 17-23, 2005. FAVACA secured the services of first-time volunteers Patrocinio Velasco, Payson, Arizona, and James Brenner, Tallahassee. Velasco presented a variety of fire management techniques while Brenner focused on a Geographic Information System application called FARSITE used to model the spread of wild land fires across the landscape. Velasco, now retired, is 36-year career employee of the USDA Forest Service and since 1999 has been an independent operator of Fire Behavior International, a consulting company specializing in Wildland Fire Management. Brenner is a Fire Management Administrator for the Florida Division of Forestry.


The Venezuelan Alzheimers Foundation through board member Enza Mastropietro requested training in organizing and managing support and self-help groups.  Dr. Soledad Argüelles, a research associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami, offered her services November 7-11, 2002.  Dr. Argüelles participated in the educational activity for 71 participants from various NGOs, support groups, and government agencies with the goal of sensitizing participants to the importance of informal social support and giving incentive to the creation of these groups.  Dr. Argüelles also met informally with the leaders of the association to offer ideas and support for improving their programs.


The Venezuelan American Chamber of Commerce has created Alianza Social (Social Alliance), a program to promote social investment and philanthropy by member corporations working in Venezuela. Executive Director Margarita Mendez de Montero works with executives to educate them in social responsibility. As the next step Mendez identified the need for strengthening the skills of nonprofit leaders, particularly in fundraising. Veteran FAVA/CA volunteer Gabriel Parra, executive director of New Directions Employment and Training Service in Miami, led a workshop May 14-18, 2001. Parra worked with 15 individuals from a variety of non-profits in the city of Valencia on developing and implementing a fundraising plan. Parra also took time to consult with each group individually.


FAVA/CA International Programs Coordinator, Ben Fleming, President David Pasquarelli , and FAVA/CA Board Member Juan Macho traveled to Caracas, Venezuela, November 6-9, 2000 to meet with Patricia Wagner, Commercial Attaché, and Alene Hernandez at the US Embassy, local NGO’s, and government officials in charge of disaster management, Brian Harris of the Economic Section, and Col. Michael Rhea of the Military Mission. Fleming was briefed on the limitations of the military’s lead role in disaster mitigation as there is no comprehensive, federal emergency management agency in Venezuela. He discussed FAVA/CA’s technical assistance program in this area, and provided information on other resources for better disaster preparedness and emergency planning.

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