- Magazine Scans > 2001 > Exceso (Venezuela) Nº 143 – July
- Magazine Scans > 2001 > Cinema Poland
- Magazine Scans > 1996 > Glamour (Italy) July
- Magazine Scans > 1995 > Woman (Spain) Nº 34 – July
- Magazine Scans > 2014 > Facetas – June
- The CatWalk > 1995 > Vivienne Tam Fall
ILLUSTRATION: GREG DOHERTY / GETTY IMAGES
The average Venezuelan lost 17 pounds last year. So many people have fled their homes amid severe food shortages that Venezuela now suffers from the second-worst refugee crisis in the world after Syria. And a breakdown in health care has led HIV rates, amid other scourges, to reach epidemic proportions, up to 15% of the population in some communities in the northeast.
These are the statistics Venezuelan actress and supermodel Patricia Velásquez rattles off during a recent phone conversation about the crisis—which has seen people standing in line for hours at the grocery store for a bag of flour or a bar of soap.
“As a Venezuelan, I never thought I would see this. But people get used to it, people get used to the scarcity,” says Velásquez, who founded the Wayúu Tayá Foundation in 2002, a charity that builds and staffs elementary schools in one of the country’s poorest communities.
These days, she’s consumed with thoughts of how to expand her reach.
“The whole work that we’ve done was for now,” says Velásquez, whose charity aids the indigenous Wayúu people, who live along the border with Colombia. “There’s no food, there’s no medicine, all of the basic things. But our schools have become bubbles for these women and children.”
Velásquez, 47, who has 12 brothers and sisters, is herself Wayúu, though she spent her childhood moving around with her teacher parents, including living abroad in Mexico and France. She left as a young woman to pursue a modeling career and now lives in Los Angeles.
Long before the country-wide crisis, Velásquez began addressing rampant starvation and malnutrition among the Wayúu children by opening schools where they would get one or two square meals per day. The foundation expanded to offer traveling health clinics as well as a platform for Wayúu women to sell traditional woven bags.
Today’s nationwide crisis has brought new problems to the country’s poor indigenous populations. Young people—even children 12 or 13—find work as mules trafficking contraband or basic food stuff from Colombia to Venezuela. Some girls enter prostitution. Other children make a living simply standing for six or seven hours in the long lines for others at the supermarket.
“They stand on line for you. That has become the main source of income for these kids,” Velásquez says. “They make more money than if they had any regular job, not that there are jobs anyway.”
The Mummy and Arrested Development actress-turned-do-gooder is now hoping to raise roughly $100,000 to begin expanding Wayúu schooling to ninth grade. Vocational middle schools would give young people a skill that would keep some from turning to the black market economy, she says. “What if we give them the tools to make a living?”
She plans to start building the first school this summer to have it ready for 200 students in September. The $100,000 encompasses the cost of the land, construction and any equipment the school would need. These days, she’s playing with the idea of teaching the teenagers carpentry or a trade of that sort, she says.
Her connections in the entertainment business have helped her amplify the plight in Venezuela. In the past, her donors have included HBO and Katie Ford, former chief executive of Ford Models.
She said she loves her work with the foundation and has a great sense of gratitude despite Venezuela’s desperate situation.
“People say you’ve changed thousands of lives, and I say, ‘No they changed us,’” she says.
“When I do what I love, time does not exist. … It fills your heart so much.”
I’ve updated the gallery with more runway photos of Patricia. I’ve also created categories for each runway/catwalk year.
- The CatWalk > 1992 > 1992 – Ann Demeulemeester Fall/Winter
- The CatWalk > 1992 > 1992 – Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter
- The CatWalk > 1993 > Adrienne Vittadini Fall
- The CatWalk > 1993 > Isaac Mizrahi Fall/Winter
- The CatWalk > 1994 > Salvatore Ferragamo Spring /Summer
- The CatWalk > 1995 > Istante by Donatella & Gianni Versace Fall
- The CatWalk > 1995 > Vivienne Tam Fall
- The CatWalk > 1996 > Nicole Miller Fall/Winter
- The CatWalk > 1996 > D & G Spring/Summer – Backstage
- The CatWalk > 1997 > 1997 – Isaac Mizarhi spring summer +4
- The CatWalk > Unknown Backstage
Set 73 +9
Patricia has modeled for Iconic Focus. Photos of Patricia from the campaign are now in our gallery. Plus a new photo shoot image.
- Advertisements > Iconic Focus > Beauty Commercial
- Advertisements > Iconic Focus > Fashion Commercial
- Advertisements > Iconic Focus > Group Shot Commercial
- Advertisements > Iconic Focus > Promotional Shoot
- Set 99