Disability

supporting vulnerable people affected by volcano eruption in DRC

On Monday, May 24, AVSI staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) began assessing the damage caused by the lava spewing from Mount Nyiragongo. On Saturday, May 22, the volcano erupted at night, bringing chaos and devastation to Goma, a city of two million people. Considered one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Nyiragongo had last erupted in 2002, killing several hundred people and leaving another approximately 100,000 homeless.
On Saturday night, the last eruption took place between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM, generating a flow of lava that took a considerable speed. Before midnight, it had reached the first inhabited centers and then hit the north of Goma.
Thousands of displaced people fled to Rwanda (according to the Rwandan authorities, 7,000 displaced Congolese have crossed the border) and to the town of Sake (an estimated 25,000 people). Still, other families have gone as far as Minova, a town located 50 kilometers from Goma.

unrest in Palestine: “situation in Jerusalem is dire,” says AVSI’s project manager

“Jerusalem is a militarized city, controlled by the Israeli police and military. Getting around is difficult and many people, especially the Arab community, avoid moving from the eastern part of the city to go shopping in Western Jerusalem, the Jewish area. Now, the tension is palpable, and no one, whether Jewish or Arab, crosses their area of residence,” says Valentina Clementelli, AVSI Foundation Project Manager in East Jerusalem.”

STORIES OF NEW BEGINNINGS: Abandoned at Birth, Olena now Tutors Other Girls with Disabilities

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.

avsi distributes food to families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in italy

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.”

In Italy, WORKING WITH VULNERABLE FAMILIES TO REBUILD HOPE ​

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.”