General Conference (GC) president Jan Paulsen, secretary Matthew Bediako, treasurer Robert Lemon, and vice president Pardon Mwansa were among the world church representatives. Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) president Paul Ratsara, secretary Solomon Maphosa, and treasurer Jannie Bekker; representatives of union conferences and other Adventist Church ministries in the region; as well as local government representatives also attended.
“I hope that the [Adventist] church will work with both government and non-government organizations to promote a country where women and children are free from violence,” Michael Seloane, Gauteng Member of Parliament for Legislature, told the congregation. He added that church officials must ensure that the new offices become “a place of hope and peace” and that the church will continue to provide help and hope for those affected by the pandemic of HIV and AIDS.
Paulsen responded by saying, “We cannot be free while our children—our future—are being abused. . . . What does it say about us as a society when we ignore the plight of not only the women and children but everyone who is in need?”
Some 2 million members worship in the division’s almost 7,000 Adventist Churches.
—Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division Communication Department/AR.
Onuoha Clement, a pediatric surgeon and an elder of the Adventist church in Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria, was one of six United Nations (UN) volunteers to receive Awards of Excellence for “their commitment as ambassadors of volunteerism for development.” The ceremony took place at Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago on December 20, 2006. Ad Melkert, UN undersecretary general and associate administrator of the UN Development Program, presented the awards.
Clement was recognized specifically for his part in successfully organizing a Walk Against Child Hunger in Trinidad and Tobago in May 2006. Medical colleagues, Adventist Pathfinder groups, and other local community groups also participated.
Click here for more information. —AR.
The idea was born in the minds of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) coordinators in Colombia in order to raise awareness of the plight of poor people in their region. The project mobilized thousands of church members and other volunteers.
ADRA/Colombia director Gabriel Villarreal, who coordinated the event, says he got the idea for the project after reading a national study that reported that almost half of the population of Colombia is poor.
“The plan had as its main objective to alleviate the hunger needs for at least one meal of those affected by violence, victims of natural disasters, single mothers, school-age children, homeless people, and the marginal areas throughout cities in Colombia,” says Villarreal.
Villarreal explained that ADRA/Inter-America donated funds to purchase specially printed boxes for this project, and Icolpan, one of the branches of Inter-America’s health food company, loaned their facilities to volunteers to assemble the boxed lunches.
According to Villarreal, it took more than four months to plan and promote the project throughout the 1,000 Adventist churches in Colombia.
“Every single Adventist Church in each city, district, community, and neighborhood throughout our country got involved,” says Villarreal, “It was a project that we presented to the churches to develop, and in turn church leaders enlisted volunteers and motivated church members to donate a meal to someone less fortunate.”
Church leaders also visited mayors offices and community organization leaders to enlist their assistance with providing the names of families and individuals in need in the community. Most organizations donated funds, and many got involved in logistics regarding the delivery of boxed dinners.
“We literally visited every home in every community where there was an Adventist presence, seeing the existing needs and handing out meal tickets announcing the distribution of meals for the next Sabbath [afternoon],” says Villarreal.
Because of the project’s aggressive promotion the turnout was larger than expected—more than 65,000 people were fed. The event was covered by television, radio, and newspaper media, raising community awareness of ADRA and the Adventist Church.
According to Wallace Amundson, ADRA director for Inter-America, this the first time that such a large-scale program has been conducted in Colombia and in the Inter-American Division.
“I think that’s a real gift to the community when you can show them that with just a few resources that they have . . . they can do something to make a difference,” says Amundson. “They don’t have to wait for a grant from the United Nations in order to do something meaningful.”
Click here for more information on ADRA/Inter-America.
—Inter-American Division Communication Department/AR.
A US$6 million expansion and renovation program is currently underway at the Bangkok Adventist Hospital—a 70-year-old Adventist institution. The project is expected to be completed within a year.
“Our competitors in Bangkok are equal to some of America’s best hospitals,” said George Larson, hospital president and CEO. “It is essential that we upgrade in order to survive in today’s medical community of Thailand.”
The makeover comprises a new front and entryway; new equipment including 150 hospital beds, tables, and air-conditioning units; four totally renovated surgical suites; upgrading of the intensive care units with appropriate monitoring and intervention equipment; and relocation of the cafeteria and hospital store. Funding will be generated internally and well as by donors in the community.
The mission hospital, which started as a small 12-bed clinic in 1937, today employs 437 full-time equivalent staff, 30 full-time physicians, 68 consulting physicians, and 8 dentists. It is located on six acres in the heart of Bangkok. —Don A. Roth/Bangkok Adventist Hospital/AR.
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