Cindy Gonzalez, 32, is from Venezuela. She is living now in Pisulí, a poor remote village on the outskirts of Quito, with her husband, her mother-in-law, and her two daughters: Isabella, 3, and Ivana, 6 months. Cindy arrived in Ecuador with her family three years ago. Like most Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador, she and her husband have informal jobs, the type of unstable work that makes up a large part of the economy in developing countries. She promotes beauty products, and he sells food items on the street.
It is freezing in Ukraine. Thousands have been sleeping in subway stations and makeshift bunkers to protect themselves from bombs. For over a million people, the time has come to flee. Across the eastern part of the country, women, children and the elderly daily board any bus or train they can find heading west and south, either to cities like Lviv (Leopoli) near the Polish border, or continuing further into Poland, Romania, and Moldova. How long will they be gone?
Living in an orphanage in Ukraine is usually a traumatizing experience, even in peaceful times. Estimates put the number of youth in orphan care in the country at about 90,000. The majority are social orphans, meaning they have been placed in institutions because their parents could not care for them on account of extreme poverty, abuse, or abandonment. Around age 16, orphans must leave the boarding schools or other care institutions because state funding runs out. Yet, having spent their whole lives without parental love and care, most are woefully unprepared for independent adult living.
AVSI-USA received a grant of $160,000 from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) Haiti Earthquake Recovery Fund to mitigate the harmful effects of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on August 14, leaving more than 650,000 people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. Funds will be used to provide physical and psychosocial protection, promote child development, and reactivate child protection networks. As part of the project, AVSI will render fully functional 8 child-friendly spaces with programming serving at least 800 children and their families living in underserved urban slums in Les Cayes and Torbeck and remote coastal villages, including Roche a Bateau, Coteaux, Port-a-Piment, and Chardonnieres.
Ruth and Elizabeth lead the group through an intricate maze of tin houses. The terrain is muddy. We are in Kibera, Kenya, the largest slum in Africa and the third largest in the world, with a population that varies between 500,000 to well over 1,000,000 depending on the source. Here, most residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than US$1.00 per day. Along the path, we see children playing dangerously close to the open sewage. A colorful mural brings some beauty to Kibera, but hope seems to be a concept that abandoned this place a long time ago. For Ruth and Elizabeth, on the contrary, hope is alive and well. They were both able to open their own small businesses thanks to AVSI’s “Tumikia Mtoto” (“Serve the Children”) project. We are on our way to visit their businesses.
The auditorium was filled with excitement. AVSI staff and partners from the World Food Program (WFP), National Canteen Department (DCS), and the Ministry of Education (MENA) gathered to celebrate the ending of a successful 5-year project. Between 2016 and 2021, the Integrated Feeding and Literacy Program gave 125,000 children access to healthy food and distributed reading materials and books to schools in Ivory Coast.
Lebanon is facing an unprecedented economic crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Beirut Port Blast. This quantitative country-wide study analyses data collected from 26 schools and 372 households of children enrolled in AVSI educational activities, both inside and outside the classroom, to show the impact of the crisis on school-aged Lebanese and refugee children.
Before August 4th 2020, the country was already in a state of emergency, and it continues today. In this article, AVSI’s Country Representative in Lebanon, Marina Molino Lova, explains how the explosion has aggravated an already dramatic situation.
Children in Ivory Coast engage in the worse forms of child labor, including harvesting cocoa and coffee. Although school is mandatory for children ages 6 to 16, approximately 23% of primary school-aged children and 41% of secondary-school-aged children are not enrolled in school, with the highest rates in the country’s North, Northwest, and West regions.
“Today, we must force children to go to school. Sometimes, we even must get them in the field. Once, I had to ask one of my inspections and a teacher to come with me to the field. As a result, we found 15 children working and brought them back to school,” explains Sylvain Douhouretagoh, Inspector of Primary Education in Korhogo.
Despite the political achievement of women’s empowerment and a variety of prevention strategies, including efforts to prevent child sexual abuse, the number of adolescent pregnancies in Rwanda is still worryingly high and has been steadily increasing over the last fifteen years. Two years ago, when she was only 16 years old, Eugenie’s story became part of this sad statistic: she got pregnant after being sexually assaulted. When AVSI identified Eugene as a beneficiary of a project funded by the RASKOB Foundation to support young mothers in Rwanda, she was desperate, full of shame and guilt.
“I had no more hope for the future,” remembers Eugenie. “I felt ashamed of what had happened to me. Nobody could understand me anymore. Over and over, I was reminded of what had happened, and I felt pushed away from my family and those around me.”