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.
This awareness of our interconnectedness influences how we implement projects, communicate stories and results, and seek funding. Now, 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.
Over the past few years of our Annual Campaigns, we were encouraged to identify ourselves with the lives of the most vulnerable, to step closer, reducing any sort of distance between us. Now, reality seems to push us further. It is no longer a matter of sentimentality or empathy; the hardships caused by the pandemic suggest that human development cannot happen if each of us does not take seriously the role we can play.
Development—easing human suffering, opening up access to essential services for a healthy life and proper growth, and creating dignified work that can become the engine for building wealth and, therefore, greater stability and opportunities for human flourishing—is something that must concern us all. Why? Because the human family is one, and if we fail to live out this dimension of unity with others, the horizon of my life remains small, and others are easily viewed as a threat. A better path is that of human development, and it cannot happen without you. You are the heart of development.
Who does this “you” refer to? It refers to anyone aware of their dignity, willing to embrace their responsibility for others, available to sacrifice to help another and build the common good. You are donors and supporters who make financial contributions and invite others to do so, and you are friends who spread the word about AVSI’s mission and work. You are also AVSI staff and volunteers around the world, and you are those who work in complementary spheres. You are also the people who decide to participate in an AVSI project and have the courage to make a commitment to learn, work towards a better future and, when necessary, change.
This is one of the most important legacies delivered by the AVSI story: sustainable human development begins when a person has the courage to get personally involved, even in the most arduous situations, implicating themselves with the needs they face, searching for new solutions. Alone, the person remains isolated. The sheer complexity and scale of the challenges require that individuals work together, guided by the principle of subsidiarity. AVSI has a method of working together with program participants, local leaders, partner organizations and donors that time and again has proven to be more sustainable than simply throwing money at a problem or imposing a solution from the outside.
These are times that require courage. AVSI-USA offers you this chance to say yes to the dramatic needs in our backyard and around the world.
You are the heart of development – an invitation, a new beginning, a certainty.
This year we invite you to join us as we raise funds for important projects around the world (Latin America, Haiti, Lebanon) and close to home (California). For the first time, AVSI-USA will support an initiative that serves the needs of people who risk being shut out of the workforce and social life in our communities: adults with disabilities, veterans and formerly incarcerated persons. This social enterprise, Los Angeles Habilitation House (LAHH), is a fascinating example of people just like you who had the courage to face a problem and envisioned a solution that exalts the human person and their potential.