Dengue Epidemic in Southern Brazil Prompts Volunteers to Bring Snacks and Juice

Adventist members distribute much-needed food and drink and encourage waiting patients.

Andresson Basthos and Adventist Review
Dengue Epidemic in Southern Brazil Prompts Volunteers to Bring Snacks and Juice
Adventist Community Services volunteers distribute food to patients waiting for treatment of dengue fever. [Photo: South American Division News]

The state of Paraná in southern Brazil is facing an epidemic of dengue. In some places, people have died from the mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. According to the bulletin of Paraná’s Department of Health, the state has recorded 16,693 confirmed cases of dengue. Out of those, 2,707 were in the city of Apucarana (pop. 140,000), the highest in a single place.

As he followed news of the epidemic on the internet, Andréia Bossa, director of Adventist Community Services in Apucarana, decided to enlist some volunteers who attend a local Seventh-day Adventist church in the Vila Nova neighborhood to help those affected by the disease.

“As I was following it on social media, I noticed that there were many people waiting for assistance [at the public health unit],” Bossa said. “Based on the demand, I imagined that these people must have gone without eating for hours. The idea came at the time: ‘These people need physical food but, above all, spiritual food.’ Then I called some people.”

The volunteer initiative took place January 24 to 26. During that time, natural snacks, juice, and cookies were distributed free of charge, along with copies of the missionary books The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, and Clifford Goldstein’s The Final Hope, as well as some leaflets that addressed themes of faith and hope. In addition to serving people who were waiting for help, the project also benefited health workers who were on call.

Epaminondas Rillo Pereira, director of Apucarana’s Harry Fenner Pathfinder Club, which joined the volunteer effort, said he felt highly motivated by the gratitude patients showed. “It has been a wonderful initiative and a pleasant experience,” Rillo said. “We also use the public health system, and we know that sometimes there are long wait times. Since we would also like someone else to do it [for us], we decided that we would help those who were waiting. Seeing people’s smiles and feeling their gratitude was very gratifying.”

“I appreciate your work. I was able to witness how the environment changed after people had some food,” Ana Karine Alves Vieira, superintendent of the Emergency Care Unit, said. “I thank you for your commitment and seriousness. This is also evangelism. God bless you.”

“It was very good to do what Jesus taught us,” Elisa Santos, women’s ministries director of the Vila Nova church, said. “Of course, it was just a small act of solidarity and compassion. But we were able to bring physical and spiritual food to that very sad environment, when people feel sick and week. It was a very rewarding activity.”

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.

Andresson Basthos and Adventist Review