June 3, 2016

ADRA Launches Major Drive to Support Refugees

ADRA has kicked off a month-long campaign to support refugees that will compliment World Refugee Day Sabbath on June 18 and culminate in World Refugee Day at the end of the month.

The main action of ADRA’s campaign is to ask people to sign a pledge to do three things: support the resettlement of refugees in their communities, to be an advocate for refugees among peers, and to keep an open mind and heart.

“As Christians, we are called to respond in times of trouble,” Jonathan Duffy, president of ADRA International, said in e-mailed comments. “We mustn’t despair in the face of great suffering, but let it further motivate us to find a way to fulfil our Christian duty.”

The campaign, which ADRA is implementing in collaboration with other nonprofit organizations worldwide, aims to engage the public in an open dialogue, providing a better understanding of refugees, and challenging some of the prejudices and misinformation that surround the issue.

ADRA has assisted more than 120,000 refugees in seven East European countries since refugees began arriving in Europe in unprecedented numbers last year. Its staff and volunteers have provided essential items, including food, winter clothing, and hygiene kits, as well as services such as transportation, information and translation services, psychosocial support, and charging stations.

Even a simple hug can go a long way.

“Every day before I go to work I’m reflecting on what I did yesterday, that even a small thing can make a big difference for them,” said Sofija Manjak, a volunteer with ADRA in Serbia.

“When they are hugged, they are so grateful for that,” she said. “They are grateful for a touch, for a smile, for a look of understanding. We were in a queue leading to the refugee registration, when a girl in tears approached me. … I gave her a hug and that was enough. No words needed.”

In Serbia, ADRA and its partners have opened an information center in the capital, Belgrade, that provides refugees with reliable information and resources in their own languages.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, ADRA’s Slovenia branch received a national award for their outstanding contribution during the refugee crisis. Last year ADRA workers in Slovenia arranged for a plane to transport material donations to refugees arriving in Lesbos, Greece, free of charge. Donations poured in and within hours the plane had reached its 2.5-ton capacity. A further 10 tons of overflow donations were sent on a train to refugees in Serbia.

Meanwhile, the closure of European borders in March has left about 50,000 refugees stranded in Greece. ADRA has established a presence in Greece and is responding to some of the immediate needs of the camps in the country’s north, including the installation of a water purification unit in a refugee camp capable of providing safe drinking water to everyone in the camp.

“The overall project goal is the improved living conditions for vulnerable refugees and migrants,” ADRA said in a statement.

ADRA’s month-long campaign started May 30 and will end on World Refugee Day on June 20.

More information on the campaign and ADRA’s work with refugees is available at ADRA.org/refugees and ADRA International’s Facebook page.

ADRA’s pledge to support refugees can be found at https://actionsprout.io/4348D6/initial