July 29, 2022

our COVID Response in Lebanon, Ecuador, and italy

Picture of Camilla Redmond Costa

Camilla Redmond Costa

The COVID pandemic exacerbated the difficulties already faced by vulnerable populations around the world. In an effort to address the health, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic, AVSI, our partners, and key US agencies, implemented several projects in different regions to support both the prevention and treatment of the COVID virus. We are pleased to report on the positive impact of these efforts on the lives of the project beneficiaries, many of whom are amongst those most affected by the pandemic. This article highlights results from our COVID relief projects  in Lebanon, Ecuador, and Italy.  

Building Hope: Emergency COVID support for hospitals and vulnerable families in Italy

At the beginning of 2020, Italy was severely impacted by the COVID virus – citing 74,386 total confirmed cases and 7,503 deaths from February to March 2020 (Gatto, M. 2020). Through the project Building Hope, AVSI with the assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), supported Italy’s critical COVID health response by, amongst other things, providing two hospitals in Milan – Brescia Hospital and Sacco Hospital – with critical telerehabilitation equipment needed for remote diagnosis and treatment of Covid patients

“The United States is proud to support AVSI’s ‘Building Hope’ project to provide essential assistance to 12,000 people adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic in Italy. Since June, AVSI has been providing frontline support to hospitals in Milan and Brescia to treat COVID patients; distributing food to families in need; and providing necessary resources that allow vulnerable children to participate in virtual learning.”

Two years later, Building Hope continues to transform lives. Fabrizio Gervasoni, the Medical Director of the Specialist Rehabilitation Unit at Sacco Hospital, shared that the hospital still uses the telerehabilitation service to treat patients – particularly from low-income neighborhoods. They have also added two new physiotherapists to the team, as well as two new devices in two territorial clinics, enabling them to reach more patients, both in-person and online. Lastly, Dr. Gervasoni disclosed that they intend to open and equip two more clinics with similar technology in Milan. The project successes and its promising sustainability mean more lives saved and families kept intact – all thanks to these critical medical interventions. We are especially proud of USAID’s collaboration and valuable support, which was instrumental in aiding those in need. 

AVSI Lebanon: Community-based protective face masks production through Cash-For-Work activities in Marjayoun and Hasbaya

With the support of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), AVSI sought to mitigate the health, social, and economic consequences of the COVID pandemic in Lebanon by launching a cash-for-work project in two of the most vulnerable regions in Lebanon – Marjayoun and Hasbaya. This temporary project, which ran for six months, gave vulnerable individuals, including both Syrian refugees and Lebanese nationals, the opportunity to generate income and improve their technical skills through a homemade face mask production workshop. The project also provided the participants with an increased feeling of safety as they had access to COVID protective equipment. AVSI is pleased to share that the project had tremendously positive results: out of 129 direct beneficiaries (93 refugees and 36 host community), 100% of beneficiaries reported feeling safer in regard to the COVID, 100% of women received cash assistance, 100% of the host community beneficiaries received cash assistance, and 96% of Syrian refugees received cash assistance. Lastly, 93% of vulnerable individuals improved their technical skills. These impressive results mean these impacted populations not only improved their household safety, but they also saw a long-term benefit to their economic livelihood: more cash flow, as well as skills to generate future economic opportunities. Thanks to the valuable contribution of PRM, we reached the desired targets for the cash-to-work project in Lebanon.  

The "Community-Based Protecting Face Masks Production & Cash for Work Activities Program" had 129 direct beneficiaries (93 refugees and 36 host community) and 774 indirect beneficiaries.

Integrados: Integration of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Ecuador - ongoing support to provide information on protection services, job opportunities, and access to decent living conditions to Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

AVSI Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and sub-grantee Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), inaugurated the Integrados project in September 2020, which is soon to end in September of this year. The project aims to assist, protect, and integrate the most vulnerable communities in Ecuador, including Venezuelan migrants and refugees. Amongst other things, AVSI provides COVID prevention programming for the vulnerable Venezuelan migrant population, which consists of workshops and informative talks, to educate the beneficiaries on the best practices (such as testing, masking, and social distancing) and prevent diseases and viruses. These events also provide health and hygiene kits to the participants, which increases their feeling of safety towards the COVID. At the end of the second quarter of the program, 27 WASH plans and 32 COVID Prevention programs were completed in the three project locations, and 599 health and hygiene kits were delivered.  AVSI’s Integrados project has reached and revitalized Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Ecuador, a resilient group faced with immense challenges. These achievements are possible thanks to COOPI and PRM’s ongoing support and partnership. 

AVSI Ecuador will reach 944 people, including both Venezuelan refugees and members of host communities.

The work continues

The last three years have brought about unprecedented challenges for all of us. As an international development organization, who works with vulnerable populations, AVSI knew we had to act quickly. Now reflecting on the past few years, AVSI is pleased with the outcomes of our COVID response projects and the impact they have had on these vulnerable populations in different regions across the globe. We are so grateful for the support of our global partners and donors. These success stories are just a few examples of our work, so we encourage you to learn more about our other projects – explore our website, engage with us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook), and sign up for our newsletter to get all our updates 

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