AVSI Uganda staff members Arinda John Bosco and Ruth Ninsiima, were selected as SCALE Facilitators of the Year (2020), while Graduating to Resilience Activity received the SCALE’s Creative Adaptation Award for Strongest COVID-19 Innovations.
Alice’s favorite time of the day is sunset. She and her husband wait for their six children to come back from school. They sit together around a cup of tea and talk about their day. But Alice’s routine was not always so pleasant. Before joining AVSI’s Better Outcomes project, returning home at sunset was a nightmare. Everything she earned would be spent on alcohol by Robinson, her husband, leaving nothing to buy food for their children. When she tried to talk with Robinson, he would inevitably raise his hand at her.
“It was draining,” remembers Alice. “I couldn’t bear seeing my children starving.”
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.
“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?”
A year ago, Henry Waitindi and Lynn Brooks left their respective homes 8,000 miles apart from each other in Nairobi (Kenya) and Houston (Texas) and headed to the same destination, The Summit Bechtel, a reserve in West Virginia that hosted the 2019 World Scout Jamboree. They had never met before, but they shared the same dream: to promote Scouting’s purpose and principles worldwide.
Like many other parents around the world, Giovanni Videa, 45 years old, has only one way to describe the routine of juggling work during COVID-19 while taking care of his three children, one with a learning disability and anxiety:
“It was tragic,” says Giovanni, an unarmed security guard who continued working during the pandemic. “Kids wanted to go out, have fun, spend at least five minutes on the playground, but they couldn’t because of the virus. As a result, they would fight all the time. It was a nightmare.”
Agnes Mukantibenda, 50 years old, is married and has five children and three grandchildren. AVSI met her in 2013 when we launched an Early Education Center in her village, Munyinya, in Gicumbi, a district in Northern Rwanda. Since the beginning, she has been one of the most active parents involved in the activities of the center. In 2015, she became the chairperson of the committee “Tumurengere”. One of Agnes’ children was part of the AVSI distance support program. She was so glad that her son could study that she decided to volunteer to help other children receive the same opportunity. Her job is to regularly visit 12 vulnerable families in two villages of Kabeza and Rwamushumba. During her visits, she learns and checks on how children and parents are doing, and if they have any specific needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped her commitment.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, amid many doubts and questions, Jolar Jarjess was certain that being close to people affected by crises is a fundamental principle for effective humanitarian action.
“Our role during a crisis like COVID-19 is not to avoid danger, but to manage it in a way that allows us to assist the affected communities,” says Jolar.
Every day, Paula Vásquez tries to create for herself and her family a “new normal” during COVID-19. She wakes up at 5:30 AM, prepares breakfast, eats alone, and leaves two meals for her sons, sixteen-year-old Jesús and ten-year-old José Luis. Then, she walks through the narrow, dusty streets of the Monte Albán Colony, one of the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Oaxaca, Mexico, to get to work. It takes her half an hour on foot to get to Crecemos, the educational center where she works as a cook. There, she washes her hands, puts on a mask, and starts her new routine. In the next eight hours, she will prepare 300 meals to be distributed to the 150 families served by Crecemos.