#6D Venezuelan Elections For Dummies

VenezuelanElections

Top 3 questions about Venezuelan Elections on December 6th, 2015

For the first time in 16 years, the “chavismo” -as Chavez’s followers are known – lost its majority of seats in the National Assembly, and the opposition has won 112 seats out of 167, which represents a 2/3rd majority.

Here are some basic questions that will help you understand the current situation in our country:

1. Is Maduro still Venezuela’s president?

Yes, Maduro remains the President of Venezuela. The elections on December 6th were held to elect the new members of the National Assembly. So, how much power does our National Assembly have? Well, it is through the national assembly that the government officials propose new laws and/or changes that, if supported by the majority of its members, will come to pass and be enforced.

Basically, if you control the National Assembly, then you have the capability of creating any law that suits your every need, an advantage the current government always had, until now. This is why we may still be stuck with Maduro but we will no longer be pushed around.

2. Why is this so important?

With what proves to be a certified majority represented by the 112 elected members of the National Assembly, the newly appointed assembly could be able to:

  • Call upon a referendum, also known as a popular vote, to resolve matters of national importance.
  • Promote decentralization by redistributing and dispersing functions, powers and people throughout each municipality and state.
  • Appoint the judges that will make up the Supreme Court of Justice, known to Venezuelans as “El Tribunal Supremo de Justicia”.
  • Approval of projects concerning constitutional reforms.
  • Appoint the members of the National Electoral Council, a.k.a the “CNE”.
  • Approve the necessary guidelines to undergo an economic and social development plan.
  • Approve an amnesty law to exempt prosecuted political leaders from criminal liability for supposed crimes such as the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, the mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma, and 75 other political prisoners.

3. So now you can go back to your country, right?

Actually, it is not that simple. Venezuela is going through a triple-digit inflation, the highest inflation and worst economic performance in Latin America in 2015. Shortages of basic goods(milk, diapers, medicines, etc.), and endless hours in line hoping you’ll manage to get your hands on what you can, demonstrates what years of poor management will do to a country.

For all Venezuelans living abroad, these elections were a boost of hope and strength. And now, we are motivated to work harder than ever to reconstruct our nation. Perhaps, it’s still not the right time to go back to our beloved homeland but it might be just the right moment to think about the possibility of returning home sometime soon. Being far from home doesn’t mean that we don’t think and work for a better country- there are several organizations dedicated to solving problems in Venezuela. To us, the reality that there will come a time where we can return home has recharged our once drained batteries and has fueled our desire into becoming the best professionals we can be, to offer our acquired experiences and skills to the development of the country that we so desire Venezuela to become.

 

This is me…

These were the first elections in which I was not able to vote. Sadly, I wasn’t the only one, and a lot of Venezuelans were unable to travel there and “vote for change”. Far away, but never absent, we spent last Sunday sitting in front of the computer, looking for news on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and all the social networks and websites you can imagine. We were also in touch with our loved ones, and thanks to technology, we were able to read and share the news with them.

The result marked the opposition’s first major electoral victory since Chavez became president, and Venezuela showed that we all want and deserve a better country.

Glory to the brave people of Venezuela – ¡Gloria al bravo pueblo! –

Katy Da Silva

Collaboration: Alvaro Lossada

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#6D Venezuelan Elections For Dummies

The “How to Date Venezuelan Women” Survival Guide



The 2 sides of Venezuelan women

I’ve seen my girlfriends and myself in situations where we actually miss Venezuelan guys, and the way they flirt and approach us. You realize how it feels like being misunderstood by them, doesn’t even compare with how you feel with guys from other countries. The truth is that it’s not guys’ fault, as we all know, latinas, in general, are complicated women.

Here are some tips to make our lives easier by helping guys understand one of the most beautiful women in the world:

1. I’d Rather be dead than ordinary

What seems casual to us, is fancy to others. We like to take care of ourselves and look nice on a daily basis. We take our time to get ready, and that’s the reason why we are, most of the time, late.

2. “I’m on my way” means “I’m getting in the shower”

When we text/call and say that, we are just checking how much time we have left to get ready.

3. We love compliments

We like and need to hear how pretty we look that day… after all, we spent a lot of time getting ready, in order to look beautiful for the occasion. Forget about cliches or soap opera kind of quotes… keep it simple and honest.

4. We love to dance, so if you don’t dance, you have two options:

  1. Learn some moves.
  2. Make us believe you do, and we’ll appreciate the effort.

Otherwise, you’ll know what Bruno Mars meant when he sang “Now my baby’s dancing, but she’s dancing with another man”.

5. Attention to detail is not only useful at work.

We like flowers, chocolates, small details or gifts that show you care.

6. We LIKE & DEMAND attention… Yes, ATTENTION please!

This point is kind of tricky, if we don’t like you, and you give us a lot of attention, we’ll consider you an obsessive stalker. But if we do like you… You’re the sweetest guy on earth. So, the balance only depends on our interest in you. Text messages in the morning or before going to bed are a good way to start.

Remember: cute is good.. over the top cheesy.. not so much.

7. Don’t be cheap… and this has nothing to do with money, just a way of being

Go that extra mile, make an effort, that means walk us home, give us your sweater if we are cold, cook us dinner and light up some candles, take us to the beach, or to a picnic… and if you are struggling with money, be more creative, it is not how much money you do spend on us, but how special you can make us feel with little details.

8. You’ve heard of arepas…and, of course, you want to try it.

If you look at a Venezuelan cultural profile, the first thing you will find is that we are REALLY proud of our heritage. For example, we love our cuisine, and of course arepas are our #1 breakfast, so you better know that. We love people who want to know more about our country, our culture, and our food.. and whenever you try arepas NEVER COMPARE IT TO A MEXICAN TORTILLA. Thanks!

Bonus points: ask questions related to arepas’ preparation.. you never know, maybe, you’ll get an invitation to try some.

9. Be nice to our friends, if you don’t like my friends, we will have a problem.

Face it: friends are family, if we love them, you better be nice to them.

10. Where’s the party?.. doesn’t matter, we are IN.

Forget about chilling on weekends. Good music, alcohol, and friends are always part of the plan. So it’s common to have social events every weekend.

Note: if we invite you to meet our friends or family, don’t freak out, that doesn’t mean we want to marry you; we just love spending time with a lot of people.

11. We are intense, dramatic and loud. Either you love us, or you hate us. And most people love us…so, embrace it

Ok, maybe that’s too much, but we have our days. Although we can have our drama queen moments, we are not into pushy guys.

12. Sense of humor is part of our every day

Everything is a joke to us… we are happy people… don’t get offended. We like to make fun of everything, and everyone. So don’t get mad if some jokes are about you, that probably means we like you.

13. Have you ever heard of a Cuaima?

Check this out: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cuaima

Enough said.

14. AGAIN, we like to be spoiled. Dates on special occasions are a must.

Remember anniversaries, birthdays, first dates, first kisses… Most of us tend to have good memory of these kind of events and it’s difficult for us to understand that if you care for us, you forget about it.

This is me…

Although not all Venezuelans are the same, and we don’t like people to generalize about us, I believe these tips could help understand and have an overview of Venezuelan women. In the end, we want to have fun and maybe fall deeply in love with someone who treats us like princesses. I know it’s hard at the beginning to get to know us, but we are full of love, and we have a lot to give.

If you think I am missing something important, please let me know in a comment 🙂

Katy Da Silva

Collaboration: Ale Lossada & Vanessa Egui

The “How to Date Venezuelan Women” Survival Guide

Proyecto: Un Problema a la vez

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La resignación ha sido una de las peores consecuencias de tantos años de deterioro, al punto que los problemas en el país han invadido tanto espacios físicos como psicológicos, y muchos venezolanos han renunciado a pensar que existe una solución.

  • ¿Qué queremos hacer?

Crear un modelo de resolución de problemas basado en crowdsourcing de las alternativas propuestas por los venezolanos.

  • ¿Cómo queremos hacerlo?

Basándonos en la premisa que “dos mentes piensan más que una”, queremos que miles de venezolanos busquen resolver un mismo problema. A través de Twitter las personas darán a conocer su principal problema país.

Se seleccionará el problema con mayor popularidad, y buscaremos nuevamente que todas las personas compartan su opinión sobre posibles soluciones a ese problema.

Con esta información se creará una solución común al problema.

Presentación: http://www.slideshare.net/KatherineDaSilva/un-problema-a-la-vez

  • ¿Por qué queremos hacerlo?

Hoy en día son muchos los problemas que enfrentan los venezolanos; tanto así, que muchos han perdido la esperanza de encontrar soluciones. Y quienes quieren trabajar en soluciones se sienten como una minoría.

Creemos que la solución tiene que venir de quienes sufren los problemas, de los venezolanos que día a día salen a estudiar y trabajar, buscando siempre trabajar por un mejor país.

Adicionalmente, estamos contando con la creatividad de un gran número de venezolanos, que unen sus talentos en la búsqueda de soluciones para aumentar las probabilidades de contar con suficiente información para crear un planteamiento innovador y adaptado a la realidad del país.

Un problema a la vez

Proyecto: Un Problema a la vez

Beauty Queens without a Kingdom

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Venezuela is known all around the world for its beautiful women, that’s the main reason why Venezuela beauty pageants are so popular there. It’s no secret that women in this country are very concerned and into their looks. Non regarding their background, social class, or occupation: the already beautiful Venezuelan women strive to look absolutely stunning in their daily lives.

Year after year, in a live program which reaches one of the highest rating levels in national TV, Venezuela meticulously chooses the girls with greater potential. The Miss Venezuela Organization prepares the winners to be Venezuela’s representatives for all international beauty pageants.

+60 years of solid entertainment

The first edition of the Miss Venezuela pageant was in 1952. It took time to be accepted by our society, and to gain the popularity and respect it has today. This was due to key events that marked the history of the contest such as its debut in black and white TV in 1956, and continuous TV transmission year after year. Among the main personalities in the business, we have had pioneer producer and choreographer Joaquin Rivera, who was in charge of 32 “noches tan lindas” until his death in 2013. Also, since 1981, the tsar of the beauty Osmel Sousa is known around the world as the mastermind in this show business, for achieving more than 30 crowns at the top international beauty pageants. Miss Venezuela successes must not only be attributed to the Miss Venezuela organization or Osmel Sousa vision, but also to the exotic Venezuelan beauty, which is a consequence of the high rates of immigration in Venezuela since the 1950s that led to mixed raced beauties.

More than just a national beauty pageant

Regardless of their social class, Miss Venezuela title holders are viewed as role models for Venezuelan women. These young girls, are not only gorgeous, but also really ambitious. They usually make use of this opportunity to get into the entertaining business, earning international recognition, and building professional careers as actresses, models, TV reporters, and business women.

To be allowed to hold a sash, and representing a state, girls have to go through a rigorous and tough preparation process for over a year. Their daily agendas include social events, daily workouts with personal trainers, strict diet plans supervised by nutritionists, and courses on how to do their makeup and hair. Moreover, they need to learn all the choreographies, and the unforgettable famous catwalk workshops with the founder of the Beauty University, and former Miss Venezuela: Gisselle Reyes. Known as the creator of “tumbao Reyes”, Gisselle‘s pupils have accomplished the highest scores on the runway in Miss Universe history.

These young girls face the challenge of having the eyes of a whole country on them. And for the winners, the pressure only increases as the media gets more involved. Most girls are lucky: their participation goes as planned, and all of their hard work shows in the brief moments they are on the spotlight, but few of them will suffer the misfortune of making a mistake on national television and having that moment immortalized on Youtube. Venezuelans love making jokes about everything that is happening, and the Miss Venezuela is everyone’s favorite target to make fun of. People won’t always remember their names, but they will always laugh at the answers to questions asked during a pageant like: What is harder: to apologize or to ask for permission? – ¿qué es más difícil: pedir perdón o pedir permiso?-

Who needs toilet paper when we have beauty queens?

Venezuelans are struggling with shortages of everything, but women’s interest on staying beautiful persists. Basics like deodorant, shampoo, soap, toothbrush, and many others are scarce and government controls not only prices, but quantities each buyer is allowed to purchase. With a polarized country and more than ten years of extreme poverty, Venezuela’s economy keeps in the doldrums with the continued devaluation of the currency – bolivar “fuerte” – and the decline of oil prices.

Venezuela´s income depends approximately 95% on oil, and it loses $700 million in a year for every $1 decline in oil prices. In the last months, the prices have fallen from $100 to below $40 per barrel. No need to be an economist to understand that Venezuela is currently facing the hardest times of its economic history.

But, the show must go on…

On Sunday January 25th the 63rd Annual Miss Universe pageant will take place in Miami, USA. It is irrational that while Venezuela is going through its hardest economic period in history, in less than a week, everyone will forget about not finding harina pan in the supermarket, yet watch expectantly for Migbelis Castellanos to win our 8th crown.

The fact that every year people watch the “Most beautiful night”, and wish our representative for the best, shows how an entertaining business can grow to be part of the Venezuelan culture and traditions. The show generates a national self-esteem, and a perception of being the country with the most beautiful women. But the contest also suggests the idea that Venezuela has hard-working women who deliver extraordinary results.

This is me…

I know that at this moment, with uncountable problems and open issues, to talk about a beauty pageant might seem superficial. However, it’s important to show the relevance and history of beauty pageants, which are more than a competition, they are part of our culture. To me, this is a role model industry that never stops, and always delivers no matter what. It is a pleasure to read the news and find people in social media networks writing about the possibility of another #BackToBack. Nonetheless, our “ability” to leave behind all the problems we are facing for fifteen minutes of fame is frustrating. It seems impossible to expect another back to back this year. But without a doubt, our participant with an excess of charisma, and more followers than any other contestant, can give us an ephemeral happiness and pride. We are all, in one way or another, proud to have grown surrounded by beautiful women, who represent Venezuela in all worldwide beauty pageants.

Collaboration: Andrea Pereira & Ale Lossada

Illustration by Penella COMICS @penelacomics on Instagram

Beauty Queens without a Kingdom

10 reasons why you won’t forget Christmas holidays in Venezuela

1.Meet, Eat, Drink, Repeat

Even though Venezuelan are going through a rough time, when it comes to food and drinks, there is no holding back…

Food christmaspostre navidadbebida

Mejor que sobre a que falte…

2. December’s syndrome  

The rules are simple:

  1. Less work, more fun
  2. The more excuses, the better
  3. Whatever you didn’t do through the whole year, you won’t finish it now

echando carro

Diciembre: pura echadera de carro!

3. Fireworks everywhere

Although selling fireworks is illegal, Venezuelans just don’t care. Kiosks in every corner will have an unimaginable repertoire of fireworks. From the most simple to the most noisy, for every age, and every taste. We not only have fireworks on the 25th or 1st… We have spectacular shows everyday and everywhere.

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vistanoch4AnioNuevoCaracas

All day today, all night tonight 

4. “When I go to Maracaibo and start crossing the bridge”music-512 Gaitas

Forget about jingles bells, jingles bells, Venezuelan gaitas are everything we listen, sing, and dance to during this time of the year. We use gaitas to express in a joyful way, our complains about everything.

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baile gaitas copy

5. money begging christmas piggy

A piggy bank that seems to chase you during all December asking for more and more money

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y pa’l cochino?

6. Our “cold” season

Even though, we still are at  15°C (60°F), for us it feels like it could start snowing at any time.

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LLegó el Pacheco

7. The catchiest christmas TV commercial: Plumrose 

We may not have had plumrose on our tables, but the commercial was always there

Ven, comparte y disfruta… Navidad con plumrose

8. Against the blackouts

Electrical power sucks, but still lights are everywhere

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9. From the most simple to the most elaborated: Nativity
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And of course, we can not miss the midnight mass.

10. Holiday Greetings on tv

When we had more than 2 national TV channels, every year was a show off of the best and funniest actors, hottest girls, and best music.

felices fiestAS

This is me…

In spite of all the economical, political, and social problems that Venezuelans face in their every day, we are passionate about christmas. I will dare to say that spending christmas away from our country brings nostalgia, and huge desires of being home with people we love the most: family and friends.

Even though christmas seems to be all about presents, decoration, and party every day; for us it is much more than that. Christmas is the best excuse to get together with our loved ones, and reunite with friends and family. It’s the perfect time when we think about the year that’s ending, and all we are thankful for. And filled with hope, we set our goals for the year to come.

My wish this Christmas is for a better country. As I said in a previous post, I wish for the safe Venezuela that my parents used to know and that we all want back; in which we all can share our christmas dinner sitting together at the same table.

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Katy Da Silva

P.S. Para ti abuelito, siempre en mi corazón.

Collaboration: Andrea Pereira & Ale Lossada

10 reasons why you won’t forget Christmas holidays in Venezuela

Venezuela… We need to talk

WeNeedToTalk

First of all, I want to start by saying that I am who I am today thanks to you.

I am thankful for the great education I got, not only academically but also as a human being.

I am grateful for all the beautiful sunny days I had growing up, and for all the gorgeous and unbelievable landscapes that you made part of my life.

I am thankful for all the delicious arepas, cachapas, hallacas, pabellones, empanadas, tequeños among all the many other dishes of your amazing cuisine.

And I’m thankful for all the amazing and happy people you have introduced me.

But… things are not going well

I cannot cope to live with a constant shortage of basic products,

I can’t stand the lack of medicines.

People are divided, and politics define you.

People have lost their sense of respect and values,

Intolerance grows proportional to corruption,

No one is held accountable for their actions.

Unemployment, and lack of opportunities surrounds us,

Thousands are being killed due to the high levels of crime and insecurity.

and You know what?

I don’t want to read all the nonsense news,

I am sick of politicians,

I can no longer bear with indifference,

I don’t want more deaths,

I dont’ want to be proud of living in the most dangerous city in the world,

So for now, I’m done here.

 

It breaks my heart, but this is not what I want for either of us. I want to make this work, but I need you to be willing to change.

Always yours,

A frustrated Venezuelan that never wanted to leave you


P.S. Whenever you are ready, I’ll come back to you.

This is me…

I’ve been feeling a lot of anger and pain. When I was there, I was desperate to have a promising future, and I could not see it happening if I stayed. So I decided to look for it somewhere else.

I know it may seem as if I am a coward for leaving when things got tough. I am more than enthusiastic to work for a better Venezuela for everyone, but I need to know the possibilities for a change are really there and I am not risking my life everyday.

At this moment, I have mixed feelings, I will always be proud of my roots but at the same time I am torn by the the current situation, of the government, and how everything is being handled.

The worst part is, what Venezuelans have to go through in their everyday life. It hurts that bullets are taking away the right of thousands of citizens to have a dream and fulfill their goals, because all they end up facing is death.

I will always wish for a better country, the safe Venezuela that my parents used to know; in which one we can actually live – not survive – and in one we are all willing to work for a better future.

There is not a day that goes by, that I don’t dream of going back to good old you…

Katy Da Silva

Venezuela… We need to talk

CADIVI FOR DUMMIES

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If you have a friend from Venezuela, you may have wondered what is this “Cadivi” thing that he or she is always talking about. And why is it such a big deal?

“CADIVI (Commission for the Administration of Currency Exchange) is the Venezuelan government body which administers legal currency exchange in Venezuela.”

Reference: Wikipedia

In 2003, Venezuela’s government decided to create an Institution which main goal is to control currency exchange… and screw Venezuela’s economy. Every Venezuelan who wants to travel abroad for any reason, to any country, has to go through the arduous process of begging government to allow them to buy foreign currency with their own earned money. For example, students who have been granted an  F-1 Visa,  and need to exchange Venezuelan currency to dollars or euros, have to prepare a folder with A LOT of documents.  Some of these documents are copies of their ID, passport,VISA, and plane tickets; letter of acceptance from the school, as well as schedule of activities, and curriculum; a letter explaining the reasons of your major of choice, bank references and other legal requirements.

Subsequently to submitting the folder to the bank, it’s sent to Cadivi for evaluation. And this is the start of an inefficient process which could take 2, 3, 4 months or even more, before you finally receive an email informing you of their final decision. After that moment, there are two possible scenarios.

First Scenario: CADIVI approves the request

Nowadays, getting consent by Cadivi can be compared to winning a lottery, no one really understands the process or the factors which are being taken into consideration for the decision making. Although this scenario should be the only one, it happens and the majority of Venezuelans don’t trust the process because rumors of corruption are everywhere.

Most importantly is to say that people work hard to save the money in order to apply for CADIVI exchange rate and it’s not something that the government is giving for free.

For the lucky ones, the next steps would be going to the bank, have the money in the account and wait for the exchange.

Second Scenario: CADIVI denies the request

Although you did everything exactly as they asked, Cadivi still denied your request. Massive denials are being received by students around the world, particularly in the last month.

Sadly, you only have 3 options

  1.      Try again and introduce a “reconsideration”.
  2.      Go to the “black market” to get the foreign currency you need.
  3.      Go back to Venezuela.

1. Reconsideration

Going through reconsideration is a lost war. Your legal representative (mom, dad or the person in charge of your legal matters back home) has to go to the bank with a letter explaining your current situation; which they already know because it was one of the first requirements. Your legal representative probably has to submit more documents to support your request. Once again, you will need to wait 2, 3 or 4 months for their decision.

2. The Black Market

The only way besides CADIVI to have access to a foreign currency is going to the “black market” for selling/buying dollars in this case. This means buying dollars from independent people sources instead of those from the Central Bank. This is not legal but it’s the common practice.

You may be asking by now, why would people decide to go back to Venezuela if they have the option of getting dollars on the black market? Right? Here is the answer:

Math, simple math (Dollars vs. Bolívares — Venezuelan currency)

The Venezuelan Bolívar (Bs) is the currency of Venezuela (VEF). There are different exchange rates depending on what it is going to be used for. For academic purposes, for instance, the official rate is US $1.00 which is equivalent to Bs. 6.30.

In the Black Market the price for buying or exchanging bolivares into dollars is in constant change. There’s a popular website called dolartoday.com in which Venezuelans check, daily, the cost of the dollar.

According to DolarToday.com, October 22nd  $1.00 is equivalent to Bs.100.52

That means that any Venezuelan needs to have 15 more times the amount of bolívares to get the same amount of dollars than going through Cadivi.

Insane, right? That explains why many students around the world are facing difficult times when being denied by Cadivi.

Finally, let’s see an example.

Master of International Business at Hult Business School

This example shows the life’s cost for an International student at Hult Business School for a  one year Master program.

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(*)Cadivi limits students to spend maximum $1,300.00 per month for personal expenses.

  • In Venezuela, with Bs. 379,890.00 you can buy a KLR650 Kawasaki motorcycle.
  • In Venezuela with Bs. 6,030,000.00 you can buy a 70m² apartment in Caracas (the capital of Venezuela).
  • In Venezuela, the minimum wage is Bs. 4,251.78/month.
  • In Venezuela, a professional with a Master degree and 5 years of work experience could expect to earn  Bs. 25,000.00/month.

For collecting the money for the Master Program at Hult, after being denied by Cadivi:

  • Venezuelan students need to have and sell 15 Kawasaki motorcycles.
  • Venezuelan students need to have and sell an apartment in Caracas.
  • Venezuelan students need more than 100 years to save the money with a regular job.
  • Because no one lives more than 100 years, Venezuelan students need to find a really good job and save money for around 20 years.

Although Venezuela has the world’s largest known oil reserves and it’s the fifth oil exporting country around the world, crisis is everywhere, affecting the future of the ones who live there and the ones who have to go back.

3. Back to Venezuela

After seeing the cost of living for students who got rejected by Cadivi, it’s easier to understand why most of them have to give up their dreams and go back to Venezuela. The amount of bolivares that they need to finish their studies is absurd, and few families can afford it.

This is me…

Sad but true, this is the reason why Cadivi is an issue for all of us. This is why we fight for our rights of studying the career of our choice in the institution and country we like, without depending on an unreliable institution for getting access to foreign exchange. In the end, our true purpose is to become better professionals, to gain knowledge, and learn from the great experience of studying abroad,in order to one day go back to our country, and be part of a generation that is capable of making a change, and build the foundations for a better country.

Katy Da Silva
CADIVI FOR DUMMIES