For some time, we have understood poverty to be the greatest possible violation of human rights. This has led us to deepen our engagement with all our direct social action programmes, which help, among others, the homeless, those with mental disabilities, the elderly, alcoholics and drug addicts, teenagers excluded from school, and the unemployed. The aim? To encourage those we help on their journey towards social inclusion and self-empowerment, so that, by the end of their time with us, they thrive, using their own skills, and are fully able to stand on their own two feet. In 2019, we helped more than 32,000 people. Recently, the number of migrants we assist, especially Haitians and Venezuelans, has gone up. In our refuges, programmes for the homeless, and 38 nurseries and crèches, migrants from other Latin American countries are gradually changing the ethno cultural profile of those we welcome.
As well as our direct action programmes, we also try to influence culture and public policies through our residential and day centres. We have developed several pilot initiatives in homes for children and young people, in schools for re-integrating excluded pupils and through our work with the homeless. Our aim is to innovate, build up knowledge and help transform common practices, which, in fast-changing social contexts, are not always helpful. We are in dialogue and partnership with state institutions as well as many other civic organisations, from whom we are also learning.
Within our two-fold mission of welcome and outreach, we understand volunteering as a transformational tool for individuals, which changes social structures, and instigates life-changing encounters. Although we have volunteers of every age, we prioritise outreach to schools, colleges and centres of higher education. Not only do we involve them in our own programmes, we also offer them training workshops in their own classrooms. We also reach out to individuals and businesses who can become our associates and thus financially support our activities. Currently, we have more than 300,000 associates whose contributions finance nearly 50% of our work.