On Saturday, February 13, as part of the New York Encounter, AVSI-USA sponsored an important event on the economy and emerging lessons from the impact of COVID-19. On Friday, March 12, AVSI-USA hopes to take the discussion a step further and consider what the emerging lessons learned might contribute to the field of international development and humanitarian assistance, in other words, for the fight against extreme poverty and the expansion of human development and respect for the dignity and freedom of all people. In particular, we will ask what the role of civil society—and therefore the constituents, donors and philanthropists who support civil society organizations in developing countries—is in mitigating and responding to the impact of COVID in it’s many dimensions and forms. As an essential contribution to this discussion, we will hear about the real lived experiences of the poor and of a non-profit organization, AVSI, working tirelessly to accompany the poor throughout this period.
On Saturday, February 13, AVSI-USA and the New York Encounter presented “Not by Profit Alone,” an online conversation on rethinking work, business, and economy in a post-COVID world. This meaningful conversation was part of this year’s theme, When Reality Hits.
AVSI Brasil opens reception center in Brasília to host newly hired Venezuelan refugees and their families
The building will serve as temporary housing for people selected to work in Brazil’s capital through the PRM-funded project Welcomed Through Work. The new space will officially open on February 4 at a ceremony with a select group of guests, including Todd Chapman, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil. Due to the pandemic, the ceremony will take place outside, in the front garden. All guests will have to follow strict safety protocols, including mandatory masks and temperature checks.
We are talking on Skype. After all, I am in Washington DC, and she is in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Wearing a beanie covering most of her hair, 28-years-old Olena Kuts looks away from the camera and laughs when I explain why I wanted to interview her: to learn more about her life.
“It’s a long story,” jokes Olena.
And not an easy one. Born with Phocomelia, a condition that involves arm and leg malformations, Olena was abandoned by her parents when she was just two days old. Soon after, she was sent to a local orphanage, where she lived for six years. Lena doesn’t like to look back at those first years of her life.
When they were one and a half years old, Moreen and Doreen were so small, frail, sick, and tired that they could barely sit up on their own. The twins’ chance of survival was alarmingly low.
Scovia Arinaitwe, their mother had experienced firsthand how quickly a child’s health can turn, but she did not realize what the cause might be. Florence Kabacwa, USAID Graduating to Resilience Activity nutrition coach took one look at the twins and knew what the problem was: malnutrition. As part of the USAID-funded Activity, thousands of families are visited by AVSI Foundation coaches in South Western Uganda every day.
In January, AVSI Foundation, in partnership with the Red Cross and the City of Milan, will distribute 68 tons of food to 12,000 people (4,500 families) who are going through financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is part of the project Building Hope: Emergency support for hospitals and vulnerable families in Italy affected by COVID-19, implemented by AVSI with funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
“With this project, we are bringing to Italy AVSI’s experience working in emergencies around the world,” says Giampaolo Silvestri, Secretary General of AVSI Foundation. “AVSI is accompanying the most vulnerable, those financially and psychologically exhausted by the crisis. In collaboration with the City of Milan and local partners, we have created a network to respond to the most urgent needs while working on restarting the Italian economy after COVID-19.”
Alice Umutoni was 19 years old when violence spiked in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was home with her family when the neighbors began to scream. Within minutes, they heard more gunshots than they could count. Scared, they started to run in different directions. There was no time to pack and rescue belongings. One of the neighbors had to carry Alice to safety after finding her unconscious. Her family was nowhere to be found. Away from her loved one for the first time, she was surrounded by strangers who had already chosen their next destination: Kenya.
Crisis in Manaus: Agricultural School surviving in midst of alarming COVID-19 case numbers and oxygen shortage
The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Manaus again. With a record number of hospitalizations, deaths, and burials in January, the second wave of the new coronavirus is much worse than the first. This is likely due to a combination of factors: First, a new, more contagious strain of the virus. Second, because the population decided not to follow safety protocols in place during the first wave.
AVSI Uganda staff members Arinda John Bosco and Ruth Ninsiima, were selected as SCALE Facilitators of the Year (2020), while Graduating to Resilience Activity received the SCALE’s Creative Adaptation Award for Strongest COVID-19 Innovations.
During the cold month of December, while still largely stuck at home and with fewer than usual opportunities to be together, a number of individuals, families and friends decided to work together on a common initiative: raising awareness and funds for AVSI projects. Most groups made crafts of one kind or another and hosted sales or even went door to door. Another group of friends launched an on-line cooking class. People of all ages joined in, adults as well as kids as young as 5-years old, giving of their time, creativity and above all their love.