Overview Of Our Ongoing Projects

The Polus Center and its partners have continued to help people with disabilities throughout the world with unwavering commitment despite the many challenges posed by the pandemic. Much has taken place in the past year that we would like to share with you as a member of the Polus community. Here are some brief updates on the various U.S. based and international projects. For more information on any of the specific projects, please see our website.

Members of the Victims des Mines en Action using the newly built boat.

Empowering Victims of Conflict

Democratic Republic of The Congo

Early last year, the Polus Center began its collaboration with the Victimes des Mines en Action (VMA), an alliance of landmine survivors in the DRC dedicated to mutually supporting each other.

Polus has since provided VMA with materials for a boat construction to be used to transport goods and services such as coffee and bananas to surrounding cities in the eastern DRC. The income that VMA members earn with the boat helps them in their shared goal of becoming valued members within their communities and reclaiming their lives.

The boat was launched in January and preparations for a second boat construction and are currently underway.

Support The 2nd Boat Building

Equal Opportunities for Coffee Farmers

Democratic Republic of The Congo

The Polus Center has been supporting coffee farmers who are victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war in the DRC since 2017. This past year, Polus, in partnership with the University of Buffalo’s IDEA Center, began construction of a coffee cupping lab that uses Universal Design principles.

The unique design of the cupping lab will allow people with disabilities (including coffee farmers who have had to give up farming due to injuries caused by landmines/explosive remnants of war) in the coffee industry to undergo advanced vocational training in coffee production.

The unique design of the cupping lab will allow people with disabilities (including coffee farmers who have had to give up farming due to injuries caused by landmines/explosive remnants of war) in the coffee industry to undergo advanced vocational training in coffee production.


Wings Of Peace

Jordan & Iraq

Polus Center and ADT’s Wings of Peace program in Amman, Jordan provides life-changing psychological trauma support for refugee children through a unique intervention program that involves expressive arts therapy (using visual art as a non-verbal means of ideating and relieving psychological trauma).

Through a new, two-year grant from the D.H. Ross Foundation, Polus and ADT will be bringing the Wings of Peace program to Iraq. The Wings of Peace II program will bring the same counseling services and expressive arts therapy to children in the city of Mosul, a city that has been devastated by violent conflict and destruction.

View The Expressive Art Gallery

Overcoming Employment Barriers

Pharmacy Tech Training | USA

The Polus Center received a Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grant in January to provide 8-week virtual workshops and job placement support for 45 people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Program Coordinators conduct in-depth interviews to understand participants’ goals, talents, and potential barriers, and to assess their fit for the much-in-demand role of Pharmacy Technician. So far, 29 people have graduated and half have already been hired by a Massachusetts CVS Health Pharmacy. This program is unique and successful due to its person-centered and job-driven approach.

Polus just received a new Rapid Re-employment grant also from Commonwealth Corp to provide this training for people whose jobs were impacted by Covid-19.

Read The Full Story...

Career Exploration Through Storytelling

“Trades Win” | USA

Polus has been providing opportunities for young adults who are blind or visually impaired to explore careers, develop skills, and pursue career paths and opportunities since 2015. In April, Polus began an exciting new storytelling project for young visually impaired adults that helps them learn about career options by interviewing people who are blind or visually impaired working in a variety of occupations. Students completed seven weeks of training on storytelling and interviewing skills, with noted speakers from the Huntington Theater, the MA Commission for the Blind, the Polus Center, and from Foxfire, the oral history project that inspired this approach to learning from those who came before us.

Participants are now beginning to listen to the stories of working people who are blind/visually impaired. Interviews will be captured through videography, podcasting, and writing, and Foxfire has committed to possibly publishing some of the students’ work. This action-learning approach a sustainable career exploration model that provides role models and mentors that can help young adults identify and pursue rewarding career paths, and it can dispel myths about what types of work a blind person can do.

  • View of Lake Kivu from boat
  • The newly built boat for the Island of Idjiwi
  • Completed cupping lab
  • Coffee cupping lab, mid construction
  • Coffee cupping lab, nearing completion
  • Dr. Nieveen Abuzaid conducting the Expressive Arts Therapy program at the Sir Bobby Charlton Centre for Rehabilitation & Support in Amman, Jordan
  • Painters from the "Expressive Art" program, Al Bader Center
  • Asem Hasna working as a prosthetic technician, Al-Hussein Society, Amman, Jordan