Since 2014, the people of Flint have not had clean water. The state's decision to temporarily switch their water source to the Flint River, coupled with a violent history of racial segregation and a recent economic decline, resulted in a profound social and health crisis that will persist for generations. Exposure to high levels of lead in their water resulted in detrimental developmental issues among Flint children, disease outbreaks, and further exacerbated the high poverty rate. The government acted too little, too late. Over 50% of Flint's population is black, and the years of discrimination they faced was only reinforced by the government's failure to provide their citizens with the most basic of resources: safe, clean drinking water.
Caterina presented this issue to her anthropology class twice. Intrigued after hours of research, she resolved to spread awareness of this issue beyond the 30 students of her classroom to a broader audience.
In December 2018, protests against the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, began in an attempt to oust the dictator responsible for genocide and several war crimes. In April 2019, he was arrested and removed by a military coup. As the state transitioned to civil authority, a military council would temporarily hold power. Yet, protestors demanded that the military generals transfer power to a democratically-elected, civilian-led government. To hold on to their power, authorities shut off Internet access, committed blatant human rights violations, and executed horrific crimes of assault, rape, and murder. Many foreign states are also supporting the military rule in Sudan.
After seeing various social media posts regarding the Sudan crisis, Caterina wanted to offer a tangible, efficient form of help, beyond empty words.
Facing a compounded political, economic, and social crisis, Venezuela is torn between two leaders. Nicolás Maduro, the controversial socialist leader re-elected as president, and Juan Guaidó, the president of the oppositional National Assembly and interim, internationally-recognized president, are engaged in a power struggle. Currently, the Venezuelan military is loyal to Maduro, while the majority of the people support Guaidó. The Venezuelan economy is experiencing extreme hyperinflation, scarcity of basic necessities, and lack of access to information. Millions of Venezuelans have fled, but those still in the country must battle unemployment and shortages of food and medicine.
Living in Miami with many Venezuelan friends whose families are personally affected by this crisis has made Caterina deeply invested in helping out in any way she can.