Meet the Fellow: Helena Carpio

Helena Carpio, the Chief Innovation Officer and a multimedia journalist at Prodavinci in Caracas, grew up on a cassava farm in Monagas, Venezuela where she honed a sense of curiosity for the world around her.

“I used to stare at insects and leaves and birds,” she said. “I loved looking at a bird’s microscopic texture in the feathers and I loved climbing trees so that I could see things from above.” Later on, photography became a way to capture that same sense of detail and scope.

After Chavez was elected in 1999, Helena moved with her family to Caracas. At age 16, she started taking photos for a nonprofit organization that she founded with five friends in Petare. The organization – CIMA (Construyendo, Inovando, Mejorando, Avanzado) – built a park, provided legal counselling and gave formula to single mothers.

“I was really shocked about how bleak most of their futures looked like without access to a proper education,” she said. She realized that if she was able to “make people connect emotionally with other stories, things can change.”

Helena loved that photography was an excuse to approach people and start a conversation. Her first camera, a Konica Minolta, was a present from her dad, who had a dark room in his house.

Helena attended Boston University, where she majored in international relations and minored in journalism. Back in Venezuela, she covered the 2017 protests, contributed to an investigation on the lack of access to running water and reported environmental stories.

“I always feel this huge responsibility to do right by the people I interview,” she said. “The biggest challenge is telling the story in a way that is respectful to them but appealing to the public and also communicates the issues correctly.”

In Tapachula, Mexico and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Helena is working with Venezuelan photographer Andrea Hernández Briceño to document how and why women migrate alone through Central America.

-Devi Lockwood, 2020 Mexico Fellow