In South America, Adventist humanitarians provide educational, psychological and financial support to nearly 5,500 refugees

The humanitarian arm for the Seventh-day Adventist Church has assisted more than 100,000 refugees worldwide.

June 20, 2016

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Brasilia, Brazil

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Felipe Lemos / ANN Staff

World Refugee Day, observed on June 20, has special meaning for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). As of March, approximately 100,000 refugees have benefited from the agency’s actions, reported Jonathan Duffy, director of ADRA International.

In Argentina, nearly 5,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, representing 60 nationalities, have been met by ADRA workers.  In Brazil, the project Human Development Institute (Genesis Base), operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in São Paulo, supported nearly 90 families, or approximately 400 refugees, with socio-educational activities.

According to Paulo Lopes, director of ADRA South America, “ADRA Argentina implemented a three-month pilot project in 2015, of specialized psychological support to refugees. This work provides 109 hours of free consultation with a psychological agency. In this pilot project, we met refugees and asylum seekers from Egypt, Colombia, Uruguay, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Haiti, Ukraine and Nigeria.”

Funding the project

Through its partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR), ADRA plans to support 300 refugees by providing food and shelter, free specialized psychological care and support for integration into local communities. The project will also provide 20 full scholarships to refugee students to study in Adventist primary and secondary schools anywhere in Argentina.

Lopes explained that the first phase of the project will take six months with an approximate cost of $120,000 (USD), but it will last four years with an annual renewal of the agreement. “For this first phase, UNHCR will provide $70,000 and ADRA Argentina brings services, physical space, etc., equivalent to $50,000 (USD),” Lopes said.

Christian motivation

In a recent article published in the Adventist Review, Duffy reflected on the biblical passage found in Matthew 25, where Jesus alludes to caring for those without clothes, without food or in prison, and challenged members to think of the needs of those who are local as well as those you may never see. Duffy said, “As Christians, don’t we each have an obligation to love our brothers and sisters, regardless of the borders that separate us and the cultures that define us? Every time a bomb detonates in a Syrian neighborhood, shouldn’t we be as outraged as when it happens in Paris? Every time the body of a refugee child washes up on the shore, shouldn’t we mourn as if it were one of our own?”

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