On April 18, 2022, a group of individual private donors, as well as their family members and a few AVSI-USA staff, set out on a “Come & See” trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, to visit the Crecemos DIJO Center. The trip was a long time coming. It was originally scheduled for October 2020. Now, 18 months later, it was finally happening. Yet, after two years in a world substantially changed by the pandemic, some of us couldn’t help but wonder if we should be taking this trip at all.
Retreat from the challenging environment in Port au Prince is a short-sighted solution that will only exacerbate the problem, with potentially severe consequences for the Haitian people and the region. AVSI is a strategic partner that 1) keeps open humanitarian access to the most hazardous neighborhoods; 2) focuses on place-based strategies with a high degree of community buy-in and support, employing local staff; and 3) brings proven, context-specific strategies that integrate across sectors for holistic care and greater impact. AVSI is ready to work with donor agencies and partners to expand and strengthen this programmatic approach.
An intense week of discussion, meetings with donor agencies, lots of hard questions and even more painful answers culminated in a panel discussion held in the forum of The New York Encounter. At that event, titled “Haiti’s Open Wounds: Is there Hope?“, Fiammetta and journalist Joe Parkin Daniels from The Guardian dove into the questions which have been burning for so many throughout the terribly painful year of 2021, which for Haiti was a living hell.
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.
Three month after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the country, we have distributed plastic sheets to 5,301 people and created 12 child-friendly spaces to help children and adolescents cope with the trauma.
As the pandemic keeps raging around the world, it has become more and more evident that access to distance learning is uneven, with huge disparities based on income and geography. Globally, parents struggle to fill the gap, and there is a well-founded fear that the most vulnerable children will not catch up with their learning goals. At the beginning of the Summer, AVSI-USA launched the campaign “Let’s go Back to School.” The main goal was to help our partners in Uganda, Lebanon, and Ecuador prepare vulnerable children to go back to school after almost two years of online learning. To address these and other challenges created by the pandemic, AVSI and partners have planned customized responses together with families and communities. As part of our global campaign, our donors helped us reach the following results.
In last year’s Annual Campaign, we invited you to “Expand your Horizons” and to join us as we reached out with hope towards communities fighting to counter the negative impact of the COVID pandemic. Over the difficult year, we have all experienced how much our destinies are tied to each other. The life of someone across the globe can impact mine, just as my life can impact theirs. It’s time to take a leap forward in how we conceive of our self and our responsibility towards one another, especially towards those suffering, on the margins of society and at risk of falling short of their fullest potential.
Human development is something that must concern us all. You are the heart of development. These are times that require bravery. AVSI-USA offers you this chance to say yes to the dramatic needs in our backyard and around the world, by supporting important projects in Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Haiti, Lebanon and Los Angeles.
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.