Development and Humanitarian work around the world, Paul Calvert spoke to Valentina Clementelli at their office in Jerusalem

Valentina Clementelli
Valentina Clementelli

Paul: What is AVSI?

Valentina: AVSI, created in 1972, is an Italian non-profit organisation recognised as such in 1973 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. AVSI carries out development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects throughout the world. We work for a world where the person, aware of his/her value and dignity, is the protagonist of his/her own integral development and that of his/her community, even in crisis and emergency contexts. AVSI implements cooperation projects in various sectors with a preferential focus on education, meaning that the person is accompanied towards self-discovery and recognition that the other person is a resource. Each project is conceived as an instrument to promote this awareness in everyone involved, has in itself a need for communicating and sharing, and creates an impact capable of generating a positive change.

Paul: How many countries are you in around the world?

Valentina: Actually we are active in 32 countries with more than 200 projects implemented by a net of more than 1700 staff, over 700 partners and with the support of 34 organisations, its founding members.

Paul:You have offices in Jerusalem, what projects do you run here in the Holy Land?

Valentina: Currently we have 4 active projects:

- Mustaqbaluna (Our Future) which is also our biggest project, focuses on the working inclusion of vulnerable categories, mainly women and people with disabilities, through the promotion and development of income generating activities. We carry out the project in partnership with BASR and YWCA mainly, that help us reach the aforementioned categories as well as span throughout all of the West Bank, from Jenin to Hebron.

- Speciality is our second largest project in which we collaborate as a partner. It is focuses on fostering tourism and the related industry in the Bethlehem area. Our contributions again focused on people with disability, in fact, with the invaluable support of our partner, Lifegate, we are training People with Disabilities to be able to find a job in the touristic sector and connecting them to potential employers.

- Pro.Ed. our newest project, which began in October 2019 is instead supporting the reality of Effetà, the only school for deaf children in the whole West Bank, with material and furniture for the students, but also and more importantly implementing a series of training to help them understand the opportunities they have at Bethlehem University as well as preparing them to face the job market. In addition we will implement, in the framework of the project, a series of meetings and collaborations between Effetà students and the Youth Council of Bethlehem to help the first ones understand how they can be active and useful members of their society as well.

Paul: You work a lot with education, Is education the key to keeping people out of poverty?

Valentina: We believe that education is the real key to the development of an individual and by education we do not only refer to the formal/informal one received in school, but the education is conceived through an holistic approach which views the human being as a hole paying attention to his/her physical, mental, cultural, moral as well as spirit dimension.

Quoting an important message "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".

For us though the ultimate goal is not the bare acquisition of a new expendable skill and knowledge, instead we are firmly convinced that education is a path in which the beneficiary can discover his or her talents/value, develop them according to his own ability and develop self-confidence, to be then ready to impact the society around him/her.

Paul: What is the attendance rate in West bank schools?

Valentina: The official data are quite outdated, anyhow the level still results to be very low:
Youth Literacy rate (15-24) 98.2%/ National literacy rate 91.1% (World Bank and Bisan Center 2006)
Enrolments in 2011 (PCBS)
- Elementary 14.2%
- Preparatory 37.3 %
- Secondary 21.9%
- Professional diploma 5.0%
- Bachelor and above 12.1 %
Drop Out rate in 2013 2.4% for males/2.5% for females.