MARACAIBO, Venezuela – A new school year gives children a chance to reconnect with classmates, make new friends and, of course, to learn. But for Venezuelan children starting classes this month, it’s also an opportunity for something else: to focus on the future.
The deteriorating situation inside Venezuela has so far left the most vulnerable out of school, depriving many of a safe environment in which to learn and socialize. To help reduce dropout rates among children whose families are struggling to make ends meet – and to provide a much-needed sense of normalcy – UNICEF is providing back-to-school kits containing some of the basic materials necessary for children to attend classes.
Valeria and Manuel, who live in Maracaibo, the second-largest city in Venezuela, have both received the kits. UNICEF spent a day with the siblings to better understand their day-to-day needs, how the kits are helping them – and to hear about their dreams.
Above: Ten-year-old Valeria goes to school in the afternoons, when her home usually loses electricity because of shortages in the city. But teachers at Fe y Alegría Manzanillo school face a tough balancing act: the school also suffers electricity shortages, forcing teachers to shorten the school day so children can avoid the blackouts and stifling classrooms.