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.
Twenty-five farmers, including nineteen women, came together to cultivate crops in their “Bitojjo-Tukorenamani” which means “Let’s Work Hard” Farmer Field Business School. Before joining the school, their harvests barely had any financial impact on their livelihood; they were mostly for home consumption. When they began receiving training in modern farming practices, their motivation grew. The USAID Graduating to Resilience Activity offers service bundles that include seeds, training and linkages to markets.
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.
2020 may not have been the year we dreamed of, nor did we see it coming. But it will most certainly be one we will never forget. Everyone around the world had to re-adjust to a new way of life. Millions lost their livelihoods and shelter, struggling to make ends meet; millions lost their loved ones. We at AVSI have also lost one of our dear colleagues and friends.
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.