In September, 160 Venezuelan migrants took another step towards complete integration in their new country, Brazil. They completed an eight weeks Portuguese course offered by AVSI Brazil and received certificates indicating their proficiency in the new language. Implemented in partnership with the National Commercial Learning Center of Roraima (Senac/RR), the classes are part of the project Welcomed Through Work, funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
The school year started in Ivory Coast on September 14, with children timidly returning back to their classrooms. Precautions such as wearing a mask, frequent handwashing and social distancing are taken seriously and enforced. Teachers are beginning the year with ‘catch-up’ classes to address the interruption which started back in March. AVSI is working alongside teachers, parents and students to ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school and ensuring that education continues. The activity is part of the USDA-funded project, “Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program.”
AVSI is monitoring the continued development of the coronavirus pandemic in countries where we operate. We are aware of risks that local populations will face, especially having limited access to precarious health systems and already struggling with poverty, hunger, and conflict. AVSI staff continues to accompany our beneficiaries, following safety regulations implemented in each country. We are doing everything we can to ensure minimal interruption of our initiatives, which many people need even more right now. Below are some testimonials we have received from colleagues, who like all of us, have to adapt, be creative, and remain hopeful during these difficult times.
AVSI Foundation participated in the symposium “Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom Through Diplomacy” organized by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in partnership with the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, on Wednesday, September 30, in Vatican City. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, spoke at the event, which was hosted by Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.
Venezuelan refugees have been living in Roraima for the last ten months and will move to Santa Catarina in the following weeks with guaranteed jobs thanks to the PRM-funded project “Welcomed Through Work.”
In August, a group of 27 Venezuelan refugees landed at the Juscelino Kubitscheck International Airport in Brasilia to start new jobs and begin a new life in the Brazilian capital. Eleven of the refugees were hired by the fast-food chain Levvo Group, the others were family members.
“This work was a great help. With the income, we paid part of the rent, and I sent some money to my mother in Venezuela so she can buy medicine and food.”
Marilú, a beneficiary of the “Activados” project, implemented by AVSI in the province of Manabí with funding from UNHCR.
Studies show that school closure during COVID-19 has adverse effects on children and adolescents. Young people are anxious and worried that they will never go back to school. Bernadetta Anieno, 18 years old, is no exception.
“They kept postponing the reopening, and I was losing hope,” remembers Bernadetta, who has been studying at AVSI long-term partner Luigi Giussani High School in Kampala, Uganda, since 2019. “I was just home doing nothing, not even reading. One day, I asked myself what I would become if I kept being home just watching TV?”
Unable to receive family visits due to the COVID-19 restrictions, inmates Alisson Tomas Zanetti, Philipe Augusto Ferreira Leal, and Edemir Cardoso da Silva Júnior were feeling abandoned and even more isolated from their community. Together, they sum up a 74-year sentence which they serve inside three APACs (Association for Protection and Assistance to Convicts), a prison system without guards or weapons located in various Brazilian states. To reconnect and feel useful, they have all joined “Humanize Prison Sentences, Promote Life.” Funded by the European Union and the Italian Bishop’s Conference and implemented by AVSI Brasil and the Fraternity of Assistance to Convicts (FBAC), the project will help 400 inmates in 23 APACs make 350,000 masks to reduce the spread of coronavirus.