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.
When children are forced to leave their country, running away from war, hunger, climate change, or political instability, they leave behind family, friends, and much more.
Sometimes, little objects can bring back memories of their homes, and details that seemed to be lost forever. To celebrate World Refugee Day, we invited children we support in eight countries to describe in a drawing what home means to them. Enjoy!
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.
Alice Umutoni was 19 years old when violence spiked in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was home with her family when the neighbors began to scream. Within minutes, they heard more gunshots than they could count. Scared, they started to run in different directions. There was no time to pack and rescue belongings. One of the neighbors had to carry Alice to safety after finding her unconscious. Her family was nowhere to be found. Away from her loved one for the first time, she was surrounded by strangers who had already chosen their next destination: Kenya.
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.
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.
Amid COVID-19 epidemic, AVSI is reinventing itself to be able to carry out projects and accompany beneficiaries. In Kenya, inside the Dadaab refugee camp, one of the largest camps in the world (200,000 people are currently living there), we are using Zoom to train teachers to provide quality education to the refugee and host community schools. The activity is part of the project “Transitional Support for Integration and Quality of Education in Dadaab Refugee and Host Community,” funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
Thanks to the Imarisha Jamil Project, AVSI Kenya has been helping refugees like Uwimpuhwe Marie Josee and Uwena Devota to enhance their social and economic resilience.
Fourteen-year-old Kok Matim, from South Sudan, participated in the 24th World Scout Jamboree and showcased how scouting can empower refugees through education.