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.
On Saturday, August 14, at 8:30 am (local time), Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that crumbled homes and buildings and killed more than 1,000 people. Since Saturday evening, AVSI has been present in the field, assessing the situation and distributing first aid kits and food.
AVSI Foundation will be present at the Meeting of Rimini with a dedicated stand and will participate in a few discussion panel alongside partners like Education Cannot Wait. The event will be streamed online.
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.
“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.”
Romana Koech, AVSI country representative in Kenya, illustrated AVSI experience in supporting women at the “Food for Life, Food for Justice, Food for all” series of webinars organized by the Holy See in view of the UN Food Systems Summit.
On Thursday, April 29, during the CIES21 conference (April 25-May 2), AVSI participated in a panel session to present the findings and lessons learned from evaluations of the school feeding programs on reading and nutritional outcomes of primary school children in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. The two programs are funded by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program that supports education, child development, and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries.
COVID-19 has not slowed the need to improve educational outcomes in East Africa. If anything, the global emergency has thrown a spotlight on learning disparities in developing nations. The educational professionals and researchers at Luigi Giussani Institute for Higher Education in Uganda (LGIHE) – an AVSI-USA long-term partner – have been working for over a decade to promote teaching methods that unlock the full potential of each learner. “School leaders and teachers are the linchpin to the radical change needed to ignite self-awareness and critical thinking in learners,” said Mauro Giacomazzi, Institutional Development Advisor for LGIHE.
Thanks to AVSI’s Integrated School Feeding and Literacy Program, Ama discovers a passion for reading and shares it with friends in Ivory Coast.