For more than three decades, Yordi Arteaga has helped people in his hometown of Caracas live healthier lives. After a long career as a commercial fitness trainer, Yordi came to realize he was only helping those who could afford his services and began wondering how he could help anyone who wanted to exercise, not just a select few.
Yordi connected with a small, local organization called Fundacion Yoga en Los Barrios (Yoga in the Slums) that was just getting off the ground. Led by a friend, Joel Valencia, the foundation runs yoga classes for children in one of the largest, most impoverished slums in the city. As their classes started to grow, Yordi looked for ways to help the organization reach more children, and eventually, provide additional programming for the families that live in the community. Finding Philanthropy University, he enrolled in all seven courses.
Through the course curriculum, Yordi learned the ins and outs of budgeting and operations, how to reach and connect with donors and, perhaps most importantly, how to discover and fulfill the mission of his organization. Not only was the instruction impactful, but Yordi also connected to like-minded individuals who share similar values.
“I knew some foundations here, but I didn’t know there are so many people and foundations all over the world who are looking for a better world,” Yordi said. “Through Philanthropy University, I now see that there are tools to help people who want to help others live better lives.”
Today, Fundacion Yoga en Los Barrios has become Fundación en Los Barrios and grown from its original four participants to reaching more than 5,000 people. The program now offers additional health, sports and cultural activities for both children and adults. The impact, Yordi says, is readily visible in the many children who have become calmer, more peaceful and focused since participating. One former student has even started training to become the first-ever barrio resident to teach yoga classes to her neighbors.
The impact doesn’t end there, either: Yordi inspired his friend Joel to take the seven courses, too, and plans to re-take them alongside him.
“Venezuela is a complex country, but for me, I see it as an opportunity to grow and help people,” Yordi said. “That’s why I’m still here.”