How to proceed?
a. A regional approach: since the beginning, we took a regional approach in our response to the Ukrainian crisis. This allows us to have a broad overview of the current situation, to follow the refugee flows and the impact of the war on different areas and sectors. This is a crisis without borders.
Up to now, we supported around 200,000 people (local population in Ukraine, IDPs and refugees) thanks to emergency response interventions in Ukraine (in Lviv, Poltava, Sumy, Kharkiv), Poland, Romania and Italy.
b. The role of civil society organizations: We work closely together with local organizations: in every region where we operate, we promote the role of civil society organizations and partners (Caritas Spes and others, local NGOs, etc.), as they are closer to the most vulnerable people and can identify their authentic needs. Their position allows them to increase mutual understanding and to create a stable link between foreign organizations and local reality, which is essential to carry out effective actions.
As a matter of fact, we could be present and at work in Ukraine thank you to all our donors, particularly I have to thank you and recognize the key role of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the AICS, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation + UN agencies OCHA, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, UNOPS) EU , EU (ECHO), pooled funds like Education Cannot Wait and private foundations.
c. How to defend and promote the right to education?
The following suggestions and recommendations are rooted in our current experience and presence in Ukraine:
- -Always finding new solutions to support the continuity of education services: children have to be supported in the learning process, including psychological support, as well as benefit from the provision of learning kits and recreational materials. AVSI is currently establishing 10 digital learning centers in the oblasts of Kharkiv, Poltava, and Sumy to support access to distance learning.
- -Rehabilitating learning spaces – where safety conditions allow it: we have to make sure children are back in school as soon as possible, as it means being back to normalcy. For instance, we rehabilitated 28 schools in three of the oblasts among the ones most affected by the conflict.
- -Creating spaces where children can meet other children, to let them regain a time and space where they can actually be children again, far from the anxiety and fear, at least for a little while. We are currently supporting 12 child-friendly spaces, reaching a total of 5,000 children with recreational activities and psychosocial support.
- -Training teachers on psychosocial support and referral mechanisms for children and/or providing them with various teaching resources, kits, and guides. Teachers and other educational personnel are front-liners, they reported challenges in supporting students and their mental health and well-being. We trained 120 teachers (currently employed in the public school system) in child protection and psychosocial support, while also providing them with education-in-emergency toolkits.
- -Supporting the children’s parents and families, their caregivers, through positive parenting sessions and psychosocial support to avoid a potential increase in violence and conflict inside the family. 850 parents and caregivers strengthened their skills in psychosocial support and positive parenting thanks to AVSI’s training.
- -Collaborating with local authorities in strategic planning, in line with the required process of reforms and according to the accountability principle. For instance, we have been coordinating with the Ukrainian authorities, especially in the highly affected oblast of Kharkiv, to select beneficiaries and choose target locations.
- -Promoting partnerships with civil society organizations, which are better placed to enter the hardest-to-reach communities, including those close to the front line, where needs are dramatically acute.
- -Promoting advocacy actions and raising awareness on the destiny of Ukrainian children: their destiny is not separated from one of our own children, who are growing up in a peaceful country. We must activate communities where we test and show evidence that the “other” is a value to us and not an enemy.