VENEZUELA: Grassroots Organising Ensures Health Care for Neighbourhoods
: "'Programmes like Barrio Adentro have contributed significantly to grassroots organisation,' said Mor'n. 'The people who live here are happy to have medical care from doctors who are friendly, down-to-earth and not at all elitist. They also feel a sense of motivation, because they see it is possible to achieve things and obtain services, and have developed a sense for taking care of what they have managed to obtain.' A hill separates La Vega from El Valle, another working-class Caracas neighbourhood that has also experienced an impressive upsurge in community participation, leading to significant advances in social development. 'Around here, everything started with a committee formed to take care of this park,' said El Valle resident Jos' Matos, pointing to the half-hectare of grass and swings that serves as a sort of 'town square' for this community. The 'friends of the park society' drummed up neighbourhood support to help reclaim this green space, whose lack of lighting and proliferation of untended bushes had turned it into a haven for drug traffickers and other petty criminals at night. Once this mission had been accomplished, the community collective then turned its efforts towards organising the construction of a Mercal subsidised food market next to the park. After the launching of the Barrio Adentro programme and the arrival of the first Cuban doctors, the group originally formed as 'friends of the park' became a health care committee with 16 neighbourhood delegates, who have gone on to form committees devoted to sports, culture, lighting, water, adult education and activities for seniors.