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.
Cindy Gonzalez, 32, is from Venezuela. She is living now in Pisulí, a poor remote village on the outskirts of Quito, with her husband, her mother-in-law, and her two daughters: Isabella, 3, and Ivana, 6 months. Cindy arrived in Ecuador with her family three years ago. Like most Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador, she and her husband have informal jobs, the type of unstable work that makes up a large part of the economy in developing countries. She promotes beauty products, and he sells food items on the street.
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.
Lebanon is facing an unprecedented economic crisis compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Beirut Port Blast. This quantitative country-wide study analyses data collected from 26 schools and 372 households of children enrolled in AVSI educational activities, both inside and outside the classroom, to show the impact of the crisis on school-aged Lebanese and refugee children.
Before August 4th 2020, the country was already in a state of emergency, and it continues today. In this article, AVSI’s Country Representative in Lebanon, Marina Molino Lova, explains how the explosion has aggravated an already dramatic situation.
What do Paralympics athletes Becca Meyers, Michael Roeger, and Ambra Sabatini have in common with Congolese refugees Bruno Kyasiimire and Habamungu Kahunda? They never let their disability stop them from achieving their dreams. Born with only one arm and one leg due to a congenital limb defect, Bruno, who lives in the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Uganda, had to deal with mobility challenges and prejudice, even among his peers, since he was young.
At first glance, the two sewing machines on Gina’s front porch look ordinary. They sit on a modest wooden table surrounded by plastics bags of fabric, dresses and t-shirts hanging from racks. The house where Gina, her children, and her sewing machines live is in the middle of El Floron 4 – one of the roughest neighborhoods of Portoviejo, Ecuador. Gina’s setup may be modest, but together with an upstart group of seamstresses, she is doing something extraordinary.
On June 16th, AVSI Ecuador received a very special visit from Michael Fitzpatrick, the US Ambassador to Ecuador. Ambassador Fitzpatrick visited a multifamily housing unit, where AVSI has intervened with structural adjustments to guarantee a dignified living situation for the seven Venezuelan families who live there.
The activities in multifamily housing units are part of the larger “Integrados” project, funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). “Integrados” seeks to incorporate Venezuelans into Ecuadorian society through dignified shelter, access to social and legal services, and opportunities to generate income.
On Thursday, June 10, AVSI’s “Integrados” Project Manager Estefania Gomez was a featured presenter in a workshop held jointly by the Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and researchers from Pennsylvania State University.