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A prison without guards: the APAC Method

Renato Da Silva Junior harbours ambitions of becoming a lawyer. There is just one obstacle: he is a quarter of the way through serving a 20-year jail sentence for murder.

“My dreams are bigger than my mistakes,” says Da Silva, a slightly built man with a broad smile. “I am doing everything to get out of here as soon as I can.”

Da Silva, 28, an inmate at the men’s prison in Itaúna, a town in Minas Gerais, south-east Brazil, is chipping away at his sentence and has already reduced it by two years through work and study at the Association for Protection and Assistance to Convicts (Apac) prison. Here, inmates wear their own clothes, prepare their own food and are even in charge of security. At an Apac jail, there are no guards or weapons, and inmates literally hold the keys.

AVSI Foundation receives $36,700,000 award from USAID PRM to support 13,200 households in Uganda

Uganda is one of the countries with the highest number of refugees in the world. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are nearly 1.4 million refugees in the country, including 225,000 coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Refugees live in settlements within host communities and have access to the same services available to Ugandan nationals. The high rate of poverty among refugees and limited economic opportunities contribute to higher poverty levels in refugee-hosting areas, like the Rwamwanja refugee settlement, located in the Kamwenge District and home to approximately 77,000 Congolese refugees. To improve food and nutrition security and self-reliance among extremely poor households in the Kamwenge refugee settlement and host communities, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Office of Food for Peace (FFP) awarded AVSI Foundation a $36,700,000 cooperative agreement to implement, in consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International, the Kamwenge Graduation Activity from 2017-2024.

Human rights project expanding to more states in Brazil

With “Overcoming Borders”, AVSI wants to give prisoners a more dignified life. Financed by the European Union, the project was created to strengthen the experience of the Association for the Protection and Assistance of Convicted Persons (APAC) in the state of Minas Gerais, and to expend the method to five states in Brazil: Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Paraná and Rondônia.

AVSI foundation launches project Open Hospitals

On Thursday, February 16, 2017, AVSI Foundation officially launched the project Open Hospitals, which aims to enhance and empower three Catholic hospitals in Syria. The event took place in Rome at The Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital, which runs the Gemelli Foundation, AVSI’s partner in this project. The other partner is the Cor Unum, Pontifical Council in charge of directing and coordinating the organizations and charitable initiatives of the Catholic Church. Gemelli Foundation has already contributed to the Open Hospitals project with 1 million Euros. AVSI will run the project for three years and it aims to create 42,000 new hospital beds per year.

AVSI-USA presents two debut screening of The Awakened heart in DC

In January, AVSI-USA will be presenting two debut screenings of an award-winning documentary about Crecemos, an education and nutrition center in Oaxaca, Mexico, a long-term partner of the international NGO.

The Awakened Heart first screening will take place in New York on January 14, 2017, as part of the New York Encounter, and in Washington DC, on January 25, 2017, at the Mexican Cultural Institute. Screenings will be followed by a Q&A discussion with Executive Director of Crecemos, Maria del Socorro del Rio.

AVSI’s voice at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants

AVSI’s staff is back in New York to participate in the UN high-level Summit for Refugees and Migrants. This is the first time that the UN General Assembly has called for a summit at the level of Heads of State and Government on large movements of refugees and migrants, a topic that has been largely addressed by AVSI Foundation, an international humanitarian NGO based in Milan.

Exhibited in Italy and Switzerland, “Generating Beauty” comes for the first time to the US

“On the peripheries of existence”. These are words Pope Francis frequently uses to describe some of the poorest places of the Earth, where misery, war and hunger jeopardize human dignity. In 2014, AVSI Foundation, an international NGO created in 1972 and currently developing humanitarian and development projects in 30 countries, invited the acclaimed Irish journalist John Waters to visit some of these communities where misery, conflict and starvation are overwhelming. His journey resulted in the exhibit “Generating Beauty: New Beginnings at the Ends of the World”, which comes to the US for the first time, after being presented in Italy and Switzerland. The exhibit is one of the highlights of this year’s New York Encounter (15-17 January).

AVSI-USA launches campaign to help Syrian refugees in Middle East, Europe and in the U.S.

Persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations have formed a ‘nation of the displaced’ that, if they were a country, would make up the 24th largest in the world. Each day the number of refugees grows. To support those who flee, even if only for a portion of their journey, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI-USA) is launching the campaign “Refugees and Us: We are all on the same road”.