Back to Ninevah Plain: a new project funded by PRM to support the local community and people who decided to return and start again
On September 1, 2018, AVSI Foundation launched a new project in Qaraqosh, Ninevah Plain of Iraq, “A virtuous production cycle to relaunch a city and its economic fabric for IDPs and returnees to the Ninevah Plain, Iraq”.
The project, funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), will last for two years and will reach more than 6,000 farmers and family members in Qaraqosh, Al-Hamdaniya district.
AVSI will work with local actors to create an association that will guide a new investment fund to refurbish 71 small and medium farms, while also fostering civic engagement and social cohesion through community gardens and conflict sensitive life-skills training. AVSI will put into place sustainability mechanisms from the start to ensure that initial funds are reinvested in additional farms and local businesses over time.
The project answers to the current situation and needs of the population, as Iraqi IDPs are returning to their destroyed towns of origin and to their lands since the departure of ISIS.
Their resettlement needs to be facilitated and supported as conflict and displacement have caused major disruption to the local economy and stock of private and public assets.
AVSI designed this project through extensive consultation with local actors in Qaraqosh including hundreds of farming families. It is based on the premise that if AVSI supports local civil society efforts at community-driven development and restores productive assets to family farms, the increase of agricultural production will generate income, create jobs and stimulate the local economy with positive returns for the health and well-being of the population.
Dante’s masterpiece performed on stage by 150 students from schools located in one of the largest slums in Africa in a unique project designed by Marco Martinelli, founder of the Teatro delle Albe and promoted by AVSI
On October 3rd, 5thand 6th, in Kibera, inside a vast slum in the heart of Nairobi where almost one million people live, something unthinkable will happen: 150 students from four schools—Little Prince, Cardinal Otunga, Ushirika and Urafiki—will stage an adaptation of The Divine Comedy, by Italian author Dante Alighieri, directed by Marco Martinelli with Assistant Director Laura Radaelli. Through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, children will cross a path that will conclude with a parade through the heart of the slum.
“The work on the Divine Comedy has confirmed to us how this archetypal narrative is universal," explained Martinelli, founder of the Teatro delle Albe, one of the most important theatre companies in Italy. "In this work, we talk about a man who gets lost in a dark forest, full of fear, despair, lack of meaning in life. How that man, when he hopes to get out of it, finds himself devoured by wild beasts and has the strength to understand that he will not save himself. This is the cry of Dante: have mercy on me! His prayer to Creation, to the world, to the Other, is effective: someone arrives and holds out a hand, leads him into the light. Therefore, we simply told this story, without using Dante’s verses. We used improvisation, actively including everyone including teenagers.”
The project of making theatre a central experience in the educational paths of these schools in Kenya’s slums dates back a few years: many teachers pointed out how theatre was a factor of great attractiveness for the students. Thanks to the theatre program offered in the schools, the rate of absenteeism dropped dramatically. Theatre also offered a tool to address other subjects. Since then, thanks to the commitment of AVSI, an international NGO that has been present in Kibera for many years with projects in different fields, in particular, that of education, investment in the school theatre program has grown steadily.
In 2015, a dedicated room and stage was built and equipped within Little Prince School and in the same year an adaption of “Pinocchio”, staged by the school children received a very important award: Best International Show granted by the Carlo Collodi Foundation.
"Theatre is a way of educating. With the theatrical experience, the teenagers change, become protagonists, and their way of interacting in the classroom is different”, explains Anthony Maina, principal of Little Prince School.
The experience of this school was contagious and in a short time other schools in KIbera have joined the initiative to give their students the same opportunity.
"This attention to the theatre," explains Giampaolo Silvestri, Secretary General of AVSI, "is a fact that corresponds perfectly to what we mean as development cooperation: accompanying people to recognize their value, to take seriously their own desires and dreams, to express themselves. Hence, when a person starts and grows, he/she can no longer be defined by the conditions, even the poorest ones, and manages to get him/herself and his/her community in motion again. In the slum, there is not only the need for bread and work but also a desire for beauty, knowledge that expands ones gaze on reality, and creativity, a condition that is fundamental to any development project.”
Kamwenge Graduation Activity will be implemented over the next seven years to improve food security and nutrition and to build self-reliance and resilience among extremely poor households in a refugee settlement and host communities
Washington, DC, November 20, 2017– Uganda is one of the countries with the highest number of refugees in the world. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are nearly 1.4 million refugees in the country, including 225,000 coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Refugees live in settlements within host communities and have access to the same services available to Ugandan nationals. The high rate of poverty among refugees and limited economic opportunities contribute to higher poverty levels in refugee-hosting areas, like the Rwamwanja refugee settlement, located in the Kamwenge District and home to approximately 77[SR1] ,000 Congolese refugees. To improve food and nutrition security and self-reliance among extremely poor households in the Kamwenge refugee settlement and host communities, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Office of Food for Peace (FFP) awarded AVSI Foundation a $36,700,000 cooperative agreement to implement, in consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International, the Kamwenge Graduation Activity from 2017-2024.
With this investment, USAID is signaling its commitment to the cutting edge and ambitious “Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHope) Strategic Framework” led by the Government of Uganda and the United Nations, in partnership with the World Bank, donors and implementing partners. Officially launched in June 2017, ReHope is “a transformative strategy to bring together a wide range of stakeholders in a harmonized and cohesive manner to ensure more effective programming. It is a response to specific challenges faced in delivering protection and achieving social and economic development for both refugee and host communities.”
Over the next seven years, the AVSI Consortium will work with 13,200 households that are economically active but chronically unable to meet their basic needs without some form of assistance. Half of the households will be from the host district and the other half will be from the refugee community, taking into consideration each population’s unique needs. Households will be divided into two Cohorts, allowing for a rigorous evaluation to be carried out by an external evaluation firm. Each Cohort will participate in the Graduation Activity for 30 months.
At the United Nations on September 19, 2017, Honorable Oryem Henry Okello, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Republic of Uganda stated with conviction: “I was a refugee from Uganda when I was 11 years old…I know what it is to be a refugee, and half of the cabinet were refugees at some point. We need to avoid the risk of creating a dependency syndrome, and instead we need empowerment strategies to complement our policies about land, free movement, identification cards…Above all we need to tap into the skills and education of the refugees to benefit our own national development.”
The Kamwenge Graduation Activity provides an opportunity to test a combination of elements of the Graduation Approach, which enjoys a wide evidence base globally, for impact and cost-effectiveness, including an alternative which draws specifically on the conclusions from the uniquely Ugandan SCORE model, implemented by AVSI in other regions of Uganda 2011-2018.
“AVSI’s past experience with the Graduation Approach in Uganda demonstrates the power of building pressure for improved services and policies, by working at the level of households and communities to increase knowledge and demand for services and appropriate policies,” says Rita Larok, AVSI’s Chief of Party of SCORE.
On Thursday, February 16, 2017, AVSI Foundation officially launched the project Open Hospitals, which aims to enhance and empower three Catholic hospitals in Syria. The event took place in Rome at The Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital, which runs the Gemelli Foundation, AVSI’s partner in this project. The other partner is the Cor Unum, Pontifical Council in charge of directing and coordinating the organizations and charitable initiatives of the Catholic Church. Gemelli Foundation has already contributed to the Open Hospitals project with 1 million Euros. AVSI will run the project for three years and it aims to create 42,000 new hospital beds per year.
“In Syria, everything has been destroyed: houses, hospitals, infrastructures. Syrians are broken, their bodies are broken, their spirits are broken. There is an urgent need to fix not only the structures, but mainly the people,” said Cardinal Mario Zenari, the current Apostolic Nuncio to Syria. “It is just a drop, albeit a very precious drop, in our sea of necessities.”
The cardinal conceived the idea of the Open Hospitals project with Msgr. Giampetro Dal Toso, secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The project will collect and financially support the Italian Hospital and St. Louis Hospital, in Damascus, and the St. Louis Hospital in Aleppo. Currently, these three hospitals are operating at half their capacity. AVSI’s project aims to increase the access to free health care services for patients who cannot afford them, establish a Social Services office to assess and guarantee access to treatment and care to those most in need, and update the information and technology systems of the hospitals by acquiring necessary equipment and training staff accordingly.
“Each of these hospitals is going to open new departments to face needs and urgencies that came out after the conflict: special departments for traumatized children, for women who were subjected to violence and rape during the conflict, and for those mutilated by war,” cardinal Zenari said.
After nearly six years of war, the Syrian health system is collapsing. According to UN OCHA current figures, an astounding 11.5 million Syrians, including nearly 5 million children, do not have access to health care. In Damascus, at least 1.5 million of people don’t have access to hospitals, and in Aleppo the number reaches 2.2 million.
“We can only survive a tragedy like this if we take little and concrete steps,” said Giovanni Raimondi, Gemelli Foundation president during the event.
“In Syria more people die for lack of healthcare than in the battlefield and this is unacceptable,” said Rocco Bellantone, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at Gemelli Hospital.
WASHINGTON DC/NEW YORK, JANUARY 6, 2017 - In January, AVSI-USA will be presenting two debut screenings of an award-winning documentary about Crecemos, an education and nutrition center in Oaxaca, Mexico, a long-term partner of the international NGO.
The Awakened Heart first screening will take place in New York on January 14, 2017, as part of the New York Encounter, and in Washington DC, on January 25, 2017, at the Mexican Cultural Institute. Screenings will be followed by a Q&A discussion with Executive Director of Crecemos, Maria del Socorro del Rio.
Co-directed by Giovanni Morricone and Simonetta D'Italia, the short documentary The Awakened Heart was shot entirely over three and a half days in November 2015, in the slums of Oaxaca. Crecemos is located in the most dangerous neighborhood of Oaxaca City.
"With this movie, our main purpose is to present an eyewitness account of the life in an extraordinary place, Crecemos, where a dedicated team of employees and volunteers works daily to make a difference in the lives of children and vulnerable young people," says Simonetta D'Italia.
The Awakened Heart brings viewers into the home of Carlos Avedaño Salas, a 10-year boy and his family whose lives have been transformed through the dedicated service and accompaniment provided by Crecemos staff over the past few years.
"With his heart awakened and his body, mind and soul nourished by his family and the caring Crecemos staff, Carlos has a great chance of making it," hopes Simonetta.
The documentary has already been accepted in various film festivals and has recently received an Honorable Mention from the 2016 Festigious International Film Festival.
Watch the trailer!
NEW YORK SCREENING
WHERE: New York Encounter, Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W 18th St., NYC
WHEN: Saturday, January 14, 2017 @8:00PM
WASHINGTON DC SCREENING
WHERE: Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th St NW,
Washington, DC 20009
WHEN: Wednesday, January 25, 2017 @6:45PM
To RSVP click on the link below:
AVSI’s staff is back in New York to participate in the UN high-level Summit for Refugees and Migrants. This is the first time that the UN General Assembly has called for a summit at the level of Heads of State and Government on large movements of refugees and migrants, a topic that has been largely addressed by AVSI Foundation, an international humanitarian NGO based in Milan.
AVSI is giving a significant contribution to the international debate: in July, Rana Najib, who manages AVSI’s educational projects in Lebanon, was invited by the UN to be a panelist in an interactive multi-stakeholder hearing, whose main goal was to provide an opportunity for Member States to exchange views and to inform the inter-governmental negotiation toward the finalization of an outcome document for the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants.
Now, after months of meetings and hearings, the Summit for Refugees and Migrants will take place on September 19 with a fundamental goal: to come up with a blueprint for a better international response. It will be a watershed moment to strengthen governance of international migration and a unique opportunity for creating a more responsible, predictable system for responding to large movements of refugees and migrants. AVSI’s staff will be there to participate in the summit and share their experience.
As part of the General Assembly efforts to discuss the theme, the Italian Government is organizing a high-level side event that will take place on Wednesday, September 21. The event will discuss “Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants: Global Challenge, Regional Responses, Comprehensive Strategy” (UN Headquarters, Conference Room 3). AVSI’s Secretary General, Giampaolo Silvestri, was invited to participate as panelist (See Program Below).
The following were also invited to participate in the event: the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Paolo Gentiloni; Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Judeh; High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi; High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini; and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Emma Bonino.
Silvestri will have the opportunity to share AVSI’s experience: the NGO was founded in 1972 and currently has 130 projects in 30 countries thanks to the work of its 1,300 staff members. During more than 40 years, AVSI has worked with thousands of refugees and migrants in their own countries, but also while in transit and finally in the country that hosts them. Thanks to its various projects, which target refugees, their communities and the host countries, AVSI has a complete understanding of the phenomenon of large movements of refugees and migrant that we are currently experiencing.
Rana Najiib, a young Syrian woman who manages AVSI educational projects in Lebanon will talk at the UN Headquarters in New York
Rana Najiib, a young Syrian woman who manages AVSI educational projects in Lebanon will talk at the UN Headquarters in New York.
On Monday, July 18, 2016 Ms. Najiib will participate in an interactive multi-stakeholder hearing, organized as part of the preparatory process toward the United Nations Summit “Migrants and Refugees”, which will take place in September
Inside conference room #4 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, Ms. Rana Najib will have the unique opportunity to share her experience working with children and their families in the refugee camps of Lebanon. Manager of AVSI educational projects funded by UNICEF in Lebanon, Ms. Najiib was invited as a panelist in the interactive multi-stakeholder hearing involving several international organizations. The hearing intends to provide an opportunity for member States to exchange views and to inform the inter-governmental negotiation toward the finalization of an outcome document for the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants. The Summit will be held on September 19, 2016 at the UN headquarters in New York (https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/summit-refugees-and-migrants).
During this hearing, Ms. Najiib will exchange ideas with a diverse group of speakers representing other international NGOs about the specific theme “Reframing the narrative on migration and refugees in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”. The hearing will be regionally and gender balanced, and will reflect a broad array of thematic expertise and constituencies.
Ms. Najiib was selected as a speaker because she is both Syrian and an active leader of a successful educational project funded by UNICEF and implemented by AVSI in Lebanon. Under her leadership, this project has improved the lives of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. With her testimonial, Ms. Najiib will share her practical experience with refugees as part of the international response at the UN, where leaders are deciding how best to face fundamental global issues. She will not share empirical research about immigration, but experiences from her daily life in which she is exposed to the most fundamental needs of those who have fled their homes. Ms. Najiib will also talk about how AVSI helps to address these needs on an everyday basis.
Ms. Najiib’s experience is part of a wider plan of action that AVSI is implementing in different countries facing the refugee crisis: from a place called home in Syria, to the camps and shelters in Iraq and Lebanon, and finally to our cities in the US. Ms. Najiib will present at the UN headquarters a more personal approach. This is in consonance with AVSI’s beliefs that it is important to work closely with families, women, men and children who are living the refugee crisis, but also in partnership with the civil society and institutions around the world.
Founded in Italy in 1972, AVSI was able to develop this unique way of working with refugees thanks to its experience in 30 countries, developing 130 projects and managing a staff of 1,300 people. Ms. Najiib’s participation in the panel in New York represents an important contribution coming directly from the field to the public debate and that of global experts about the current refugee crisis.
AVSI around the World: http://www.avsi.org/chi-e-avsi/
AVSI in Lebanon: http://libano.avsi.org/category/projects/
Maria Laura Conte, Communications Director, email@example.com; +39 347 1589822
Media Relations AVSI Italy: Anna Zamboni, firstname.lastname@example.org, + 39 344 0215675; Aldo Gianfrate, email@example.com, + 39 344 0316910
Media Relations AVSI-USA: Roberta Alves, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 202 352 5623
WASHINGTON D.C. January, 2016 - "On the peripheries of existence". These are words Pope Francis frequently uses to describe some of the poorest places of the Earth, where misery, war and hunger jeopardize human dignity. In 2014, AVSI Foundation, an international NGO created in 1972 and currently developing humanitarian and development projects in 30 countries, invited the acclaimed Irish journalist John Waters to visit some of these communities where misery, conflict and starvation are overwhelming. His journey resulted in the exhibit "Generating Beauty: New Beginnings at the Ends of the World", which comes to the US for the first time, after being presented in Italy and Switzerland. The exhibit is one of the highlights of this year's New York Encounter (15-17 January).
"In 2014, I was asked to contribute as curator to the creation of an exhibition on the operations of AVSI in three locations: Ecuador, Kenya and Brazil. The exhibition would look at the educational projects which AVSI had built in these places, rooted in Don Giussani's vision of an educative method which places the development of the person - the generation of a new subject - at its centre," remembers Waters, referring to the Italian Catholic priest, educator and public intellectual. "Our exhibition offers neither an economistic analysis nor a pious homily. Rather, it's an existential analysis of the human condition variously called 'exclusion', 'marginalization' or 'peripheralization'
Through 19 panels, "Generating Beauty: New Beginnings at the Ends of the World" presents three different realities: a group of schools of Nairobi, Kenya, founded to offer quality education to the poorest youth; a center for nutritional education in São Paulo, Brazil, based on the responsibilities of the parents and on the familiar and social bonds; a new form of early childhood education in the suburbia of Quito, Ecuador, aimed at enhancing the individuals and their resources poverty too often burdens.
"In a month or so of journeying, we encountered people who should have been broken or beaten down, who were instead new people, full of hope, passion and affection," remembers Waters. "To the Kenyan slum of Kibera, the Ecuadorian 'invasion' of Pisuli, into the favelas of São Paulo, AVSI had come bringing an unexpected method of education, in which each student is treasured, looked at and placed at the centre of the endeavour."
Water's journey began in Kibera, one of a dozen slums ringing Nairobi, Kenya. There, up to a million people are crammed together in a shanty town of mud constructions and open sewers, with rubbish littering the dirt tracks between the huts.
"Yet, in the Little Prince Primary School, an oasis in the center, the children seem like children anywhere," describes the Irish journalist.
Waters had his most startling revelations in São Paulo, in the work of CREN, the Centre for Recuperation and Education in Nutrition, supported by AVSI as part of its work in the favelas.
"There, we came upon the proposition that malnutrition and obesity are really different sides of the same coin, sometimes co-existing even within the same family. Malnutrition has to do with the scarcity of good food, or the wrong food, but even more has to do with a form of amnesia, " remembers Waters. Nurturing does not come 'naturally', but is a wisdom carried in a culture, and when cultures are ruptured by scarcity and drought, and the people must move elsewhere in search of a life, the wisdom of aeon is left behind.
After New York, "Generating Beauty: New Beginnings of the Ends of the World" will be exhibited in Washington D.C.
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Roberta Alves, Communications and Outreach Manager
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WASHINGTON D.C. December, 2015 - Persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations have formed a 'nation of the displaced' that, if they were a country, would make up the 24th largest in the world. Each day the number of refugees grows. To support those who flee, even if only for a portion of their journey, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI-USA) is launching the campaign "Refugees and Us: We are all on the same road".
We propose to meet people at the beginning of the path, enabling them to stay in their home country if not in their village of origin. For those already on the road, AVSI-USA seeks to serve the basic needs of refugees in transitional settings like reception centers and camps and to enable them to live with dignity despite uncertainty. At the end of the journey, AVSI-USA will work with others to meet refugees in our cities and to help them to integrate and rebuild their life and futures.
AVSI-USA acts in order to reduce the gap between official refugees assistance and the actual needs of refugees who are struggling to integrate themselves into their new home. AVSI has already supported approximately 50,000 Syrian refugees. Our 2015-2016 campaign "Refugees and us: we are all on the same road" aims to help 20,000 families of Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq as well in Italy and in the U.S., facilitating access to education and improving the families' autonomy through opportunities for work.
Individual, families and friends are encouraged to contribute with a financial gift and/or to organize events in support to the campaign.
Syria: "To Survive in Aleppo"
Custody of the Holy Land Reception Center in Aleppo. Located inside the Parish of St. Francis, in the district of Azizieh it welcomes over 200 refugees per day
The city is bombarded every day and has neither water nor electricity. About 80% of Aleppo's population is unemployed and living on the breadline. In the last four years, 250,000 people were killed in Syria. Persecuted by groups of terrorists, the vast majority of Christians have fled. In response to this humanitarian emergency, AVSI supports the Custody of the Holy Land activities coordinated by the Association Pro Terra Sancta. AVSI's priority is currently to sustain the Custody of the Holy Land Reception Center in Aleppo. Located inside the Parish of St. Francis in the district of Azizieh, it welcomes over 200 refugees per day. There families find shelter, a place to sleep and eat, and are given clothes, medicine, and most importantly a welcoming and peaceful place to stay. Friars work on rebuilding the houses, providing psychological assistance, and energizing the parish life and activities. "We assist those in need", says Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, "We don't make distinctions of race and religion, this is the core of our mission in Syria. Please, help us to stay in Syria".
Iraq: "Start Over in Erbil"
The Baby Jesus House, a nursery school run by a group of Dominican sisters, which receives daily 130 children and is located in Ozal City
Today, 250,000 refugees live in Erbil. In 2014, AVSI helped a group of Dominican sisters to open a kindergarten, The Baby Jesus House, which receives daily 130 children and is located in Ozal City. 1,200 families live in this community: more than 900 are Christian, while some are Yazidis and others are Muslims. All of them fled from ISIS violence in other parts of Iraq. The kindergarten has four classrooms with 30 children each. In each classroom, there are two teachers, who themselves also had to flee when their own villages were attacked by ISIS. Supporting the Baby Jesus House means allowing these families to recover at least a little bit of "normality" in a situation deeply marked by uncertainty and discomfort.
Lebanon: "A New Home"
Education and employment opportunities for Syrian refugees in cities of southern Lebanon, promoting harmony and integration
Today, Lebanon has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and more arrive every day. The "foreign" presence in Lebanon represents at least a fourth or possibly even more of the current Lebanese population, a serious challenge for a country where the political balance is already unstable. In these refugee camps, it becomes fundamental to promote the human dignity of each of person currently living in no man's land. AVSI acts in order to reduce the gap between official assistance and the actual needs of refugees who are struggling to integrate themselves into their new home. AVSI has already supported approximately 50,000 Syrian and 34,600 Iraqi refugees. Our campaign "Refugees and us: we are all on the same road" aims to help 750 families of Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, facilitating access to education and improving the families' autonomy through opportunities for work.
United States: "Starting Over"
Comprehensive resettlement support for refugees in US cities, together with the USCCB and their Office for Migration and Refugee Services
In addition to the thousands of immigrants arriving each year from countries around the world, the United States is expected to receive up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. Many immigrants and refugees struggle with transitioning to American life. For many, they leave behind stressful environments and enter into unknown circumstances. Initial needs for these newcomers vary from temporary housing, food, clothing, language skills, employment, medical needs, and orientation to a new culture. In partnership with its affiliates, USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) office resettles approximately 26% of the refugees that arrive in the US each year through a network that includes over 75 diocesan offices across the country. AVSI-USA has agreed to partner with MRS in meeting the needs of refugee families by identifying the gaps between public funding and the full range of necessities. Our efforts will be directed towards support for education and employment.
For more information, contact:
Roberta Alves, Communications and Outreach Manager
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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