A professional firefighter, he later graduated in graphic designer. A social activist in the International Humanist Movement, he was Project Coordinator and public relations coordinator for The Community for Human Development. He served as President of the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela and organizer of the First Global Prout Conference in Venezuela, “Building a Solidarity Economy based on Ethics and Ecology”, 7 – 9 July 2011.
June 2011 – October 2013
Has an undergraduate degree in economics and diplomatic relations, with expertise in adult education and social promotion TOEFL and interpreter. Since 1989 he has participated in the planning and execution of self-management in marginalized and indigenous communities. For 10 years he was a successful business owner. This experience caused him great dissatisfaction because of the exploitation, greed and immorality of the capitalist system. He became a volunteer in the Institute to study and support the development of a new economic model that is Neo-humanist in the context of a new global society. He and his family have now started a new community project in the state of Yaracuy.
June 2011 – October 2013
Venezuelan fashion designer, graduated from Colegio Universitario Monseñor de Talavera. She has been a member of Prout from the First Global Conference in Venezuela in 2011 as administrative assistant and full-time volunteer. She is currently working on a production project with a sewing cooperative in Centro Madre clothing designs and the development of the Prout house in El Marquez, Caracas. She and her family have now started a new community project in the state of Yaracuy.
Hannah Ostermeier – Germany
Oct. 2014 – Jan. 2015
Just finished high school, Hannah wants to see the other side of the world and experience the Latin-American culture before starting university study. She likes to do theater and dance. She met Dada Maheshvarananda at a festival in Portugal and as a result got interested in the PROUT project in Venezuela and wants to help to make the world a better place for everyone. She came here to learn about meditation and yoga, meeting friendly people with good intentions and discovering another part of the earth.
Andreas Papagjika (Albania/Greece)
August – October 2013
Born in Albania, grew up in Greece. Student of Electronic Engineering at the Technological Education Institute of Piraeus in Greece. “I am a person who likes travelling and discovering different cultures. I lived a year in Italy, six months in Spain, and I enjoy learning languages. I am excited to be in Venezuela, to be a volunteer in the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela, and to learn as much as possible about it.”
Mariah Branch (USA)
May 2009 – Sept 2010
Mariah came to PRIVEN as a volunteer. After assisting with our presentation at the International Prout Conference in Denmark in July 2009, she became Director of Planning and Development and worked to help the Institute become financially self sufficient. She worked on numerous projects and focused on recruiting and orienting domestic and international volunteers. She also developed and led a follow-up survey of 40 cooperatives in the Barlovento region of Venezula. She now works as a consultant for a company that she co-founded, AAMB Consulting. She can be reached at: mariah.branch[at]aambconsulting.com.
Sept – Oct. 2014
Argentine native raised in the United States where he studied Entrepreneurial Management at the University of Minnesota. A social enterprise aficionado, he believes in the potential businesses have to improve the quality of life of those at the base of the economic pyramid. He has been traveling the past 13 months across Latin America exploring business possibilities dedicated to eradicating extreme poverty in the world. A cooperator at heart, he works with the non-profit Aynah (www.aynah.org), helping to implement cooperative projects that augment economic opportunities in communities across Latin America. He is excited by the prospect of PROUT in creating a more cooperative world.
Thais Wilson (Venezuela)
August – September 2013
“I’m a retired geophysical engineer, environmentalist and philanthropist at heart, constantly evolving to take actions that represent my desires. I’m volunteering with Prout after travelling a bit and volunteering in several places, because I developed an interest in cooperative work and Intentional Communities, which I aim to study and put in practice while volunteering here. I’m also interested in Agroecology, and I hope to combine everything I learn into a more sustainable lifestyle… really sustainable!”
Anna Rose (USA)
August – November 2013
“I am a young person who loves to meet people who are working to change themselves and their communities. I recently graduated from Marian University (US) with a degree in Sociology. I love to enjoy simple things like cooking, reading, and taking a walk in the mountains. I love to see how people put spirituality and social change together, which I experienced living in a Catholic Worker community in the US and doing community organizing. I came to Venezuela to study Spanish, experience another culture, and learn about the economic alternatives that are developing here in this country. PROUT is a wonderful place to accomplish these goals, I am very excited to learn and grow spiritually with the diverse people who come here!”
Angelo Gabriel Hernandez Azuaje (Venezuela)
July 2013 to Feb. 2014
Angelo (Ajaya) is a student at Simon Bolivar Conservatory of Music where his instruments are the classical guitar and electric guitar. A protector of animals, he volunteers at foundations dedicated to the rescue and adoption of homeless animals. He is currently training as a dog handler. He also practices yoga and meditation.
“I am very happy now to live in the Prout house and be sharing with students from other countries who have hope in the Progressive Utilization Theory. Like them, I believe it is possible a world with Neo-Humanist education, environmental balance and spiritual values. I am also extremely proud that our teacher and guide is Dada Maheshvarananda which will give us a better approach to Prout.”
Chiara Raieli (Italy)
December 2013 – March 2014present
Chiara studied International Relations at the University of Florence. She became a volunteer for PROUT through AIESEC. She chose to come in Venezuela because she is curious about the political situation of the country and, in general, fascinated by the Latin American world. She also would like to analize different socio-economic developmental models, such as the PROUT theory. She considers this internship a good opportunity for her personal and academic growth.
Pedro Carvalho (Portugal)
January – March 2014
“I’m someone who is looking for a role in this changing world. Since four years ago my biggest goal is to find my inner peace. I’m pretty sure that we will be facing deep changes in this planet in a very near future. And the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela seems to me like a very interesting bet to help me accomplish this goal. When I received the answer from Dada, I felt immediately that my next step would be visiting Venezuela. I’m very much in the beginning but I do have big expectations about the time I will spend in Venezuela. When I first read the principles of Prout, three years ago, it was as if someone had put my idea of a new earth into words.”
Laís Athayde (Brazil)
October – Nov. 2013
Born in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, she is a student of management at the Federal University of Amazonas. Dedicated and focused, she is always looking for the best. Spontaneous, authentic and trying to make the world a better place to live. She came to the Quinta Prout through AIESEC, where she worked as a volunteer for one year. She was also a representive of the Project Imagina na Copa. In Prout she is doing research on cooperatives in Venezuela, studying economic and social questions and Prout’s proposals for democratic reforms.
Rashmi Marjolein Moeijes (Netherlands)
August – September 2013
Rashmi is a student of international development, an activist and a margii from Wageningen. She sees Prout as an important complementing part of her studies because it offers solutions to current global development problems. “I came to Venezuela especially to learn and to simply experience being in another part of the world. I learned about the country, about Prout, and I improveed my Spanish by working at the institute and helping out at Centro Madre.”
Mariela A. Mosquera Ordóñez
July – August 2013
Mariela was born in Quito, Ecuador in 1990. Studies International Trade and Negotiations at the Army Polytechnic School. She was coordinator of the youth group Youth for Life Course (RJV) dedicated to be socially responsible leaders. She became a volunteer for Prout through AIESEC. She has become a yoga practitioner while in the Quinta Prout and is learning many things that will undoubtedly be applied both in her personal and professional life.
Barley Colello (USA)
June – August 2013
Barley is a college student at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC studying Anthropology. She was introduced to the theory of Prout when Dada Maheshvarananda visited her school this past April. After playing a couple of cooperative games led by Dada and hearing about the volunteer opportunity in Caracas, she was inspired to spend her summer at Quinta Prout. She spends her time cooking lunches, growing veggies in the garden, and doing other various house chores. She gains inspiration for the garden from Centro Madre in Barlovento, that also rejuvenates her mind and soul. She is studying intensively and gaining confidence as a yoga instructor.
Michael Keenan (USA)
March, June-July 2013
After Michael’s brief stay in March 2013 during the passing of Hugo Chavez, he was inspired to return to la Quinta PROUT after college graduation from SUNY Albany to further study the Progressive Utilization Theory and gain a better understanding of the present socio-political state of Venezuela. He spent his time studying various aspects of PROUT theory and cooperative businesses as well as learning the Spanish language under a former professor at the local University. His free time was spent deepening his understanding of meditation, kiirtan and yoga alongside Dada. Michael has brought his passion for economic democracy and community empowerment with him to Los Angeles where he is working with the Southern Los Angeles Food Co-op Movement and with the Psychology of Social Justice Lab at UCLA as a Research Assistant.
Diego Montaño Morales (Bolivia)
Dec 2012 – Jan 2013
From Cochabamba, Bolivia, 24 years old, he graduated in Communication and Journalism; he loves to travel and do Spanish flamenco dance, which he has practiced for 13 years. In an effort to find new directions and different ways, he joined AIESEC, the largest organization of young people in the world, that helps many young people participate as a social volunteer in almost one hundred countries. That´s the way that he come to the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela. At the beginning he didn’t know much about PRIV’s activities, but after helping to correct the Spanish translation of Dada Maheshvarananda’s new book, After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action, he could understand the philosophy and identify that the world needs alternatives. Also he helped with Public Relations and the production of some videos. He has become a lover of yoga and vegetarian food.
Camila dos Santos (Brazil)
Dec 2012 – Jan 2013
A student of International Relations at the Federal University of Rural Rio de Janeiro, she arrived at the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela through AIESEC. She has always identified herself with social development projects; which is why she loves the economic and social model that the Prout movement offers. Her contribution was focused on website development, flyers, logos and visual editing of documentaries for Prout, Centro Madre and the Neohumanist Kindergarten.
Natalia Cerri Oliveira (Brazil)
Dec 2012 – Feb 2013
Natalia is 20 years old and is a student of public relations at the University of São Paulo. She is passionate about Brazilian culture and dreams of working to develop culture in her society. She has worked in AIESEC (a global youth network seeking leadership development and cultural understanding) for two years, where she was director of public relations at her local office. Her contribution was focused on visual editing of documentaries for Prout, Centro Madre and the Neohumanist Kindergarten.
June 2011 – Sept. 2012
From Puerto La Cruz, she lived for two years in Germany where she worked as an events coordinator for a classical music group. Shortly after starting as a volunteer in PRIV, she learned that she was pregnant, and decided to stay. She gave birth to Valentina Shanti on February 18, 2012, and both mother and daughter continued to live in the Prout house.
Ernesto “Akhilesh” Peña (Cuba)
Jan 2012 – Aug 2012
A Master of Arts from the Higher Institute of Arts of Cuba. Also a graduate of English and French, has taken courses on Family Health and Applied Anthropology to Health by the National School of Medicine in Havana. He combines the professional practice of fine arts with participation in cultural, economic and agricultural social projects, for which he draws on the Prout philosophy. The purpose of his project “Art without limits,” is that art serves as a path to personal improvement and transformation of the world.
Donat Szakmary (“Dharmapala”) (Hungary)
October 2006 – December 2007
He was the system administrator and accountant of the institute. But did everything that came up (fixing the roof, build lockers, change money, cook, clean the house, do the shopping, etc.), like all the other volunteers. Also a spiritual aspirant, and meditator. Actually that was his main reason to come to Venezuela, to do spiritual/volunteer work. The biggest challenge indeed was to manage the same time the activist and a spiritual life. Fortunately there was time enough for his spiritual practices which helped in the mundane life a lot. After leaving the institute the habit of everyday practice of yoga and meditation stayed which is now a base of his life. In the last years he lived in Hungary where he did ecological (architectural) design and was a founder of the social/political movement The 4th Republic. This movement is now transforming into a political party and has good perspectives to make reforms on the Hungarian left. Presently he lives in Caracas with Elluz, his Venezuelan wife (whom he met in the institute) and their baby daughter, and works as a professional architect. His message is, “There is no social change without personal development of consciousness.” His personal blog or here (in Hungarian). e-mail:
Spencer Bailey (Canada)
Spencer spent 8 months as an intern in PRIV in 2009, and then returned in 2010. He is especially interested in issues of food security and how government policy can be used to assert the food sovereignty of a nation and help keep the population healthy. Spencer has a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Resource Systems from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Yakelin Yisel Diaz Rondón (Dec. 2008 – March 2010)
Business Administration student at the Central Venezuela University (UCV). Her experience has highlighted the different realities of the urban and rural environments in Venezuela. The tools she has learned have offered her a panoramic vision of the difficulties and potentialities to consider in any local development plan. A visionary woman, she first came to know about PROUT during the World Social Forum in Caracas 2006. From that moment she participated in some Prout initiatives that are putting into practice this socio-economic model with a holisitic vision of what should be considered as “development”. One aspect that resonates with her is the Proutist proposal for women leadership that is crucial for real social change to happen in the world.
Paola Quintero Vivas
A lawyer, she graduated from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in 2011. She specializes in a progressive branch of law, Social Law (which includes labor law, agricultural law and children). In 2010 she worked in the Endogenous Development Fund, an institution of the Venezuelan government that supervises production projects developed by cooperatives, communal councils, social production enterprises and communities. In her experience, endogenous development (which means development from within) and the Proutist movement both focus on economic and social model necessary for the evolution of the Venezuelan nation as it seeks to satisfy basic needs, participatory community and environmental conservation. She has a lot of enthusiasm in contributing to the Bolivarian Revolution, and thinks that it should draw on the ideas of the Progressive Socialism of PROUT. She is currently involved in projects linking the institute with Venezuelan universities, organizations and the media, and and to maintain the legal status of PRIV.
Békefi Róbert, psychologist (Hungary)
June – September 2010
I found the staff and volunteers in the Institute very helpful and friendly. I proposed to lead a mural painting workshop for the local youth in Barlovento, and my idea was accepted and supported by Dada Maheshvarananda and Didi Ananda Sadhana. This art therapy technique was quite a success, and now colorful mural paintings decorate the walls of the Casa Communales in two small villages. The local youth also learned how they can cooperate to reach a bigger goal. I also did some construction and renovation work in the Prout Institute in Caracas. It was nice to do physical work in a truly spiritual environment. The mornings started with yoga and meditation, and after the delicious breakfast with home-made yogurt, we started to work. Cooking sometimes for the community was also part of my job, but I really enjoyed doing that as the institute has a very comfortable kitchen. I traveled around the country a bit, visited great places and got to know really friendly people. I also learned you have to be alert and follow what the locals do to avoid problems. Caracas is an overpopulated city, but the countryside is really different – where people know each other, crime is much lower. I recommend this experience to all those who feel fit to work in tropical climate and want to experience a Latin American capital. Facebook: Békefi Róbert
Allison Zaitchik (USA)
August 2010 – August 2011
Allison received her B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2006. Before moving to Caracas in August 2010, she worked as a counselor and advocate for victims of domestic violence. She also worked at her local health food cooperative, which provided inspiration for further research on the social and economic dynamics of the cooperative model. She believes PROUT theory has much to contribute to the Bolivarian Revolution and the advance of a more just and sustainable socio-economic system worldwide. She is now doing post-graduate studies and is an intern at the University of Massachussetts Medical School, doing research on interpersonal violence, risk assessment and the effectiveness of a particular treatment program.
Hans van de Werfhorst (Netherlands)
January 2007 – September 2009
Hans (“Yogeshvara”) has known Prout since 1974. He gave the first Prout lecture in Venezuela in 1977 when he was working in South America for three years as an acarya (spiritual teacher). He returned to Venezuela in January 2007 as a volunteer in the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela, which was then located at the Ananda Marga Kindergarten in Caracas. In May 2007 he left the institute and taught private English classes in Caracas with Inlingua for a year. He returned to the Institute in April 2008 for a year and a half when the institute moved into the current premises at Quinta Prout. He participated in the official inauguration of the house, in the six-week intensive training with 21 Brazilian university students, and he attended the 2009 Global Prout Conference in Denmark. He also taught yoga classes in Yare I Prison, at the Institute and in Chacaito. Hans moved back to the Netherlands in September 2009 where he presently works in a retirement home. He hopes to return to Venezuela in August 2012. He says, “I hugely benefited from the spiritual environment of the Institute. The future is very positive with Prout, but we cannot afford to lose any more time.” He can be contacted on Facebook and Skype.
Dusty Hinz (USA)
May – June 2009
Upon finishing his last semester of college while studying abroad in Merida, Venezuela, Dusty made a month and a half stop at La Quinta Prout in Caracas before heading back to Minnesota. At PRIVEN, he helped research and formulate an outline for a radio show about cooperatives. PROUT’S philosophy of localized and regionalized economies that are environmentally sustainable was particularly intriguing to Dusty, and what he observed at the Centro Madre farm stuck with him. During the growing season of 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he and five other young people started a cooperative urban farm that supplied seventeen CSA members on a weekly basis and sold at a local farmer’s market. For a year now he has co-produced a leftist journalism program on KFAI Radio, a community-based, non-profit station. Dusty has also done some organizing for Ken Pentel of the Ecology Democracy Network, that might as well be brothers with PROUT. In October 2011 he will be moving to Philadelphttp://priven.youcanhaveawebsitelikethat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Krystal-Tanner.jpghia to live with his girlfriend who studies sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He believes his generation is going to change the world. You can find him on Facebook at Dusty Hinz or e-mail at .
Andy Malinalco (Hungary)
November 2006 – October 2007
He has a Masters degree in communication, literature and lingusitics. During his university studies, he got interested in the philosophy of the 20th Century, so he spent much of the next three years reading philosophy, but decided not to take courses in this subject, because his interest in literature was lost as a result of his official studies. After graduation, he worked first in a multinational corporation’s public relations department, and then as a linguist. He became involved in the Hungarian anti-capitalist movement, including a squatter group and an anarchist collective. When he was introduced to PROUT, he found it a meaningful way to unify spiritual and social development. He wrote: “Is Venezuela Heading Towards Prout?” After returning to Budapest, with another former PRIVEN volunteer, Donat Szakmary he founded in 2007 the social/political movement The 4th Republic, a popular youth movement. Currently it has 50 activists organizing events, and many hundreds of regular participants. Besides Budapest it has local groups in three other Hungarian cities: Székesfehérvár, Győr, Tatabánya. The movement’s aim is to be the cutting edge of the social and mental changes in Hungarian society towards a more cooperative, more solidary and more conscious one. It choose its name to advocate the need for a new constitution and a new compromise inside the society to the present Third Hungarian Republic which began with the fall of communism. It offers the people a powerful feeling of participation and the strong experience of the force when people move together. The tool that this initiative found is jaunty games in public places and light irony. The 4K! organized public mass games in the streets of downtown Budapest that are very popular with young people. In the first two years, they have organized 30 events, the biggest of which drew 450-500 participants. Giant mobilizations for Capture the flag, Pillow Fights, Water fights, Subway Party, Poster-hacking, etc. Watch the action on a Hungarian news program.
Aga Gral (Poland)
June – August 2011
AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organization volunteer, helped with social media and public relations during the First Global Prout Convention in Venezuela in July 2011.
“I came to Venezuela to complete an internship for school – I wanted to study the explosion of cooperatives and also the 21st Century Socialism of the Chavez government – that’s when I found the Prout Research Institute in Caracas. On a practical level, it’s exciting to be working with the cooperatives – to be building a real alternative to capitalism.” Dave lives in Pemberton, British Columbia. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University in Canada and a Masters of Social Science – Development and International Relations at Aalborg University in Denmark.
Leonardo Rafael Facioni Marques (Brazil)
April – November 2010
“After graduating in psychology, I decided to move to the institute as a volunteer. The almost 8 months I stayed there were full of learning. Venezuela is a very peculiar country in the political aspect and the cultural exchange between volunteers from different countries, as well as sharing the same house with all were, undoubtedly, learning experiences that will keep with me forever. I suggest that new volunteers should visit the cooperative CECOSESOLA in Barquisimeto.”
Brian Landever (USA)
March – October 2007
Brian Landever came to Priven to explore how economic design can help society prioritize social and environmental goals. He primarily supported the early development of our human resource needs. He successfully identified roles that needed to be filled for our growth, and advertised these roles as internship positions using e-journalism, social media, social networking, and promoting relationships with university internship coordinators. Subsequent team members that came to work with us as a result of his work have produced excellent work, including making us financially self-sustaining. Brian was also fundamental in securing our current office and residence. He extensively researched the housing market in Caracas as well as the mortgage system of Venezuelan banks. The beautiful house where we are currently located is thanks to his time searching throughout Caracas, working with various real estate agents. He also participated in the Peace Conference held by the Venezuelan Ministry of Defense in 2007. After leaving Priven, he returned to the United States to earn his Master’s Degree in Economics from the New School, where he focused on community currencies and community exchange networks.
Randolph Piazza (USA)
Feb – June 2007
He graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1997. Then he served two tours in the Peace Corps: two years in Bolívia and then in Papua New Guinea. After that he did a Masters Degree in Rural Livelihoods and Global Change at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, graduating in 2005. He went to Moldova and worked with poor farmers there, and got some grant money from USAID which he distributed to them. In the last part of 2006 he was inspired to come to Venezuela.
At the Prout Research Institute of Venezuela he researched the impact that agricultural multinationals were having on Venezuelan farmers. He also participated in the Peace Conference at the Ministry of Defense in April 2007. During the following four years he taught English privately and lobbied the Venezuelan government to assist Moldova. He was very earnest and hardworking. He lived humbly on very little money because he believed so strongly in his cause. He tragically died in an accident on December 13, 2010 in Caracas.
A computer scientist specializing in security and the introduction of new technologies. He lives with his wife Diana, an educator, near New York City where they have raised and home schooled 10 children. He has published articles on a number of topics, including “What makes co-ops successful?” and has started and participated in several consumer cooperatives over the last 40 years. He can be reached at: . See his website, dedicated to freedom, spirituality and education.
Krystal Tanner (USA)
June – August 2007
Krystal studied Neoliberalism and Democracy in Latin America at University of Michigan–Flint and was therefore interested in Venezuela, PROUT and the work they were doing with Cooperatives. She took part in the production of the documentary about Barlovento during her stay. She now lives in San Francisco, California with her beautiful child, where she assists the reunification of children who have been placed in foster care with their families.
Thales José Carneiro “Taraka” (Brazil)
Feb – May 2007
Tarak was born in Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is a professional in telecomunications and was introduced to Prout in 2004. As a Brazilian activist, he feels inspired to search for ways to implement the ideas of Prout. “I am ready to fight for this cause through the vision of Prout, and help develop a world in which my children and grand children will be comfortable and proud to live.”
Agatha Collin (France)
September – December 2006
A professional translator who has lived and worked in Poland. She discovered Prout in July 2006, and three intense weeks later, courageously bought a ticket to Venezuela in August, becoming the first volunteer at the not yet opened Institute!
Fabio Barone (Italy)
October – November 2006
Born in Switzerland, son of Italian emigrants, did first an apprenticeship as electrical draftsman. Successively he graduated as engineer in Information Technology and Communications. He worked as a Software Engineer and Systems Architect for 5 years. In the fall 2004 he’s been travelling through Latin America, volunteering and investigating about realities of the continent. For six years he’s privately devoured books on globalisation, capitalism, sustainable development and renewable energies. In this time he’s developed an understanding and a concept of the need for a transformation of society from an economic, social, ecological and spiritual point of view – towards a holistic development of the human being and society, in harmony with nature. He sees in Prout a feasible and practicable alternative for such a transition. He helped get the PRI-V started.