Venezuela: Kneading dreams amidst breads, pastries and biscuits

―"Go for it!"

This was Isangeli's husband´s response when she asked him what he thought about her training to become a baker. She had been keen to learn for a while, but didn't have the money to pay for a bakery course, so when she saw on Facebook that there was free course in her community, she signed up straight away.

"On the first day, we learned how to make golfeado pastries: it was the first recipe I wrote out in my notebook," says Isangeli while kneading the dough for the day´s bread. Twenty of her peers are also training to become professional bakers.

The ICRC has supported the community training centre in La Vega, a working-class area in western Caracas, since August 2019, by providing the necessary materials and technical supplies for people like Isangeli to learn a new trade and to put it into practice as they learn. The goal is for everyone to finish their training so that they acquire new skills that will allow them to earn an income and thereby improve their quality of life.

The ICRC works alongside the Nazareno La Pradera Vicarage and the Venezuelan social development organisation Superatec to provide vocational training in different trades, such as barbering, hairdressing, shoemaking, computing and bakery for around 160 young people and adults in La Vega.

It is not the first time these courses have run in the community. "On other occasions, although there was a good turnout, many students did not complete the courses because we didn't have the materials they needed to learn properly, nor did they have the means to buy the materials for themselves," said Sister Corina, one of the course coordinators.

In violence-stricken areas, opportunities for residents to improve their quality of life are scarce and conditions are often precarious. The situation is further complicated by the current economic situation in Venezuela, which has forced people to seek alternative ways of making a living to support their families.

In her 27 years of life, Isangeli has experienced great hardship, such as being separated from her mother who recently emigrated to find a better job. "All I ask is to be with my mother again so I can hug her. I really miss her," she says wistfully.

In addition to developing her baking skills, these courses have also helped her to plan her professional future. "My goal is to start a business and to build a reputation for being the best baker," she said proudly.