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OVC Program Wraps Up First Phase

Over the past five years, AVSI has been on an incredible journey, expanding the reach and impact of its activities for child development and education in four African countries. The AVSI Distance Support Program paired up with USAID funding for Orphans and Vulnerable Children through an award to AVSI in 2004. In this way, AVSI and her partner organizations and dedicated social workers at the community level were empowered to enter the lives of many more children in some of the most desperate circumstances and offer them the sustained opportunity for schooling and educational support, health care, and most importantly friendship of a loving adult to face whatever circumstances life has presented them.

This unique program has recently come to the end of its first phase, but the fruits and flowers which have bloomed and blossomed as a result continue to thrive. Over 14,000 children and their families benefited directly from participation in this program in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ivory Coast.


For a text only version, keep reading below.

For a downloadable report with pictures, click here.

Watch the Project documentary (10minutes)




Since arriving in Africa, AVSI has been implementing programs where children are among the main beneficiaries. AVSI’s concern is for the integral development of every child, with each seen as being endowed with inestimable dignity and potential, each unique and unrepeatable. For many years, AVSI’s Distance Support Program (DSP) had made it possible for thousands of children to attend school, have access to regular and emergency health care, and to know the care and concern of adults in their communities. Through the DSP, private donors are matched with a child who receives both direct and indirect support by AVSI and selected partner organizations in his/her home community. AVSI has traditionally focused on the most marginalized and vulnerable families and communities, with particular attention to those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) began in 2004, and soon thereafter AVSI was awarded a cooperative agreement to expand this DSP intervention across Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. The overall goal of the project has been to improve the well-being and coping capacity of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), as well as their families and communities. AVSI chose to work both directly and via sub-grants to local community-based organizations, together with capacity building and mentoring.


Over the past five years, AVSI and her 114 partner organizations have touched the lives of more than 14,000 children and their families in many tangible ways. In 2008, AVSI’s OVC program expanded to a fourth country, Ivory Coast, where, upon the request of USAID, AVSI began to adapt its methodology to fit with the local contact including its challenges and opportunities. During the early stage of the program, AVSI’s Program Director, Lucia Castelli, and her staff were inspired to change the meaning of the OVC acronym to reflect more accurately AVSI’s view of the program purpose and vision; Orphans and Vulnerable Children was substituted with Our Valuable Children, thus emphasizing the positive resource inherent in every child and the community responsibility in from of them and ownership over the program.


Recent Events

During the last week of May 2010, AVSI held a closing event in the three original countries of the OVC program: Kenya (Nairobi), Rwanda (Kigali), and Uganda (Kampala). At each of these events, dignitaries from various ministries were in attendance to represent the significant local government support and recognition of the work accomplished, together with representatives of the country’s USAID and AVSI staff locally and internationally. The events attracted participation from a range of civil society organizations including the local partners of AVSI. A common theme was the adaptation of AVSI’s method to the particular context in each country while always maintaining a focus on the needs of the child within his/her family. In each country, an individual participant from the program gave a testimony about the impact which AVSI has had on his/her life. It was the most moving moment for all in attendance due to the simplicity, gratitude and affection of the youth. Clearly, this program has offered an incredible opportunity to thousands of children, each with his/her unique story and bright future.




Book Publication

As a celebration of the achievements of the program, its partners and the children and youth, who have also worked hard to take advantage of the opportunities provided, AVSI compiled and published a beautiful book entitled “Faces of Hope: Fruits and Flower of the AVSI OVC Project.” The 100+page book is overflowing with personal stories and pictures which convey hopefulness, perseverance, and solidarity among people that is astounding and profoundly moving. The book also contains important background on AVSI’s methodological approach which is based on partnership, community engagement in the identification of the most vulnerable, involvement of the family, income generating activities, and a holistic perspective of each child and community. With country-specific sections, the book offers readers an in-depth look at how the program took shape in Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya and the impact it has had on the organizations, families, and individuals involved. The book is available for download.




Project Evaluation

In the final year of the project, a longitudinal study of the beneficiaries and partner organizations was completed through the implementation of a final household and organizational survey. The impact study had begun with a baseline survey conducted on a sample of the beneficiaries in the first year of the project; the same sample was surveyed on two subsequent occasions. The survey data proved to be extremely rich in detail and information, as well as a useful tool to improve the capacity of AVSI and her partner organizations in each country to develop indicators, adapt evaluation instruments and ultimately to collect standardized data on the project’s impact. One of the most immediate conclusions from the evaluation experience was the usefulness of such data for knowing the characteristics of the population being served; in a multi-country program this information enabled the management to better adapt the program components to the needs in each country. Another important conclusion was the direct impact that guardians’ health and economic stability has on the well-being of the child (considered holistically in terms of education, health and psycho-social indicators of well-being). The findings confirmed that indeed a family centered approach is more effective in promoting a child’s well-being as opposed to simply child centered interventions. In most cases, indicators related to education, health and nutrition all improved over the life of the project.

See the Executive Summaries and Full Evaluation Reports Below



The future of the initiative will be different in each of the four countries, but AVSI is fully committed to ensuring that all children who have not completed their educational cycle will be enabled to do so. In large part this sustainability is made possible by the dedicated support of thousands of private donors in AVSI’s Distance Support Program. In Kenya, USAID has asked AVSI to continue its program activities for an additional year. In Ivory Coast, funding has also been made available for AVSI to continue and the prospects look good for AVSI to consolidate its presence and methodology in this newest context. In Rwanda and Uganda, AVSI is transitioning to other modalities and continuing to look for other forms of support for the expanded reach of the AVSI OVC/DSP program.



Evaluation Report: Survey on Children's Well-Being (Full Report) (Executive Summary)

Survey on Organizational Capacity of Partners (Full Report) (Executive Summary)


Country Summaries: Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya


Powerpoint Presentation by Lucia Castelli, May 2010, on topic of sustainability

Powerpoint Presentation by Rita Larok, May 2010, on topic of M&E


Article: Strengthening Family Capacity to Care for OVC: Making Care Sustainable

Article: Background to AVSI's Distance Support and OVC Program, 2008


Publication: Faces of Hope, 2010

Publication:Stories of Hope, 2007


News Mention: PEPTalk from PEPFAR program in Ivory Coast