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.
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.
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!
At first, Margarita and Griselda thought the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge they were not ready to face.
“COVID changed our lives. At first, we lost our jobs; we had to lock ourselves up. My children couldn’t go to school, and I had to be a teacher for them, and check their homework,” says Margarita.
“I used to wash, cook and clean while children were at school, but once they were home all the time and I had to check their homework, the house was a chaos, and it was very stressful for them, and for me” echoes Griselda.
Jessica Anderson recently earned her MA from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, in International Security and Development. In the Summer of 2019, she spent a few months in Oaxaca, Mexico, carrying out research with Crecemos, an AVSI-USA long-term partner. Her work culminated in a case study in which she evaluates the effectiveness of Crecemos’ localized nutrition interventions over five years and examines the influence of interlinking areas in a child’s life such as education, recreational sports and arts, family relationships, and food preferences. In the following interview, Jessica discusses her time in Oaxaca and shares how this unique experience widened her “horizons and expanded both her intellect and heart.”
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.
Born in Honduras, 17-year-old Ricardo left for the United States alone in search of the American Dream. After riding across Mexico on a train known as “The Beast” and escaping from the immigration police while trying to cross the border to the United States, Ricardo finally found the FM4 Paso Libre shelter, in the state of Jalisco. There, he was able to apply for a permit to be recognized as a refugee in Mexico.
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.
On March 20, Mexico closed schools nationwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A few days earlier, on March 17, Crecemos had already sent home the children who come regurarly to the educational center located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Oaxaca, Mexico. In their bags, Crecemos staff helped them pack homework, instructions on how to wash hands and keep social distance and their musical instrument.