Project 4 – “AV’s House” – A Home for US Army Veteran Vainuupo Avegalio
HeroHomes is a not-for-profit foundation established to build houses for deserving veterans and their families. Our fourth project is a home built for US Army veteran Vainuupo Avegalio, also known affectionately as “AV”. Fifteen years ago, AV left his home in a village on the Samoan Islands in a fishing boat. He arrived in Hawaii 2,500 miles later and joined the United States Army to fight for America. The experience left him disabled with severe PTSD. Bent, but not broken, AV has since made it his life’s work to help fellow soldiers and others in need.
Vainuupo Avegalio (AV) is an amateur poet and visual artist. He has performed his readings throughout the US most recently entering many homes by way of the HBO documentary called We Are Not Done Yet. Both his poetry and his art deal with war experience and trauma. It places the bloody and uncomfortable story of his truth, in your face. Art and poetry are his way of dealing with, guilt, anger, depression, and suicidal ideation which coupled with multiple injuries sustained while serving overseas ended his military career. He now travels the United States and its territories conducting art and poetry workshops with at risk youth, current and former inmates, first responders, veterans, and those suffering from mental illness in hope of bettering their quality of life.
“Military life was both a blessing and a curse. It took me to places I could have only dreamed of growing up on the Samoan Islands. I witnessed horror, destruction, merciless acts of inhumanity. I saw acts of gallantry and heroism. I sent and welcomed many good friends home. I was shot at by enemies. I was spit on by the people we fought to protect. Through 12 years of service and even today, a battle deep within me grew stronger with each breath and every thought, a battle with myself.”
“This battle eventually took its toll, leaving me gasping for air, drowning in my own shallow grave. The feeling of regret and hate left me unable to love, feel, or care. Unable to look my mother in her eyes and tell her I love her. The emptiness and pain inside took my wife, my friends (dead & living), my family and almost my life. I needed an outlet. Art & Poetry have become a highway to healing. I love working with acrylic paint, but I consider myself a mixed media artist. Experimenting with this IS MY PATH TO REDEMPTION. “
Learn More About Vainuupo Avegalio
- See AV’S Story on Instagram
- See AV’s Artwork and read more about his story.
- HBO Documentary – We Are Not Done Yet
Help Us Finish the Fight for “AV”
AV’s new home in Purcellville, Virginia is nearing completion. We hope to hand him the keys around the end of March, 2021. But AV’s case is unique in that he has few worldly possessions and nothing whatsoever in the way of furnishings. Remember, he left a tiny village in the Samoan Islands 15 years ago, served in the US Army for 12 years and has lived on the road creating and sharing his art & poetry. As a first time homeowner, AV scarcely knows what he needs. The miracle of having a house is almost more than his mind can process.
We’ve received a very generous gift from our friends at Belfort Furniture. Next time you are in the market for furniture, we urge you to remember how this great local company has stepped up to give back to the community.
But there’s so much more to do. We hope to raise $10,000 more between now and delivery day for additional furnishings. When AV crosses that threshold to his own home for the very first time, we want him to look around with wonder at the completeness and comfort of a fully furnished home. We want him to know that his service and his suffering were remembered and honored. We want him to feel the love of his new neighbors and the entire community. Please help us accomplish this small miracle by making a donation right now!