September 23, 2023

In Brazil’s Largest Slum, South American Division Office Staff Are Volunteers

In partnership with ADRA Brazil, they reached out to the Sol Nascente community.

ADRA Brazil, South American Division, and Adventist Review
Sol Nascente residents received medical care and free legal advice. [Photo: Silvia Tapia and Irene Strong]

Staff serving at the South American Division (SAD) headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brasilia, Brazil, participated in the Love on the Move project on September 17.

The initiative was carried out in partnership with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Brazil, in the Sol Nascente community, located 22 miles (35 kilometers) from the nation’s capital.

With more than 33,000 makeshift dwellings, Sol Nascente recently became the largest slum in Brazil, according to data issued by government officials earlier this year. According to the government data, Sol Nascente surpassed Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro, historically the largest favela or slum.

When ADRA International staff found out about the situation, the humanitarian arm of the Adventist Church decided to act. What started with a simple idea became a large project that benefited 140 people through various services and another 259 through the donation of food vouchers.

ADRA Brazil director Fábio Salles emphasized the importance of the planning stage of the initiative. “Our colleagues in the office [and their families] followed each stage of the activity, from the initial site visit, the mapping of needs, the organization of the rolling out of services offered, the logistics, the process of selecting beneficiaries, and the training course that each volunteer had to complete,” Salles said. “[SAD] volunteers could apprehend and even experience for themselves how ADRA actually works.”

Love on the Move

The name of the project was born out of the desire of SAD workers to bring love to action, to get out of the office and join the local Adventist community to carry out acts of service on behalf of people in need.

For Luís Mário Pinto, an SAD vice president, there is an additional reason. “This kind of project sensitizes and to some extent revitalizes the desire to serve, following in Jesus’ footsteps. It is love on the move,” Pinto said. “We hope that other church regions will soon follow suit and join their local ADRA representatives to work in partnership.”

The first project of Love on the Move mobilized more than 100 volunteers who not only donated their time but also resources. Their generous contributions allowed them to offer various services, including health check-ups, psychological assistance, legal advice, and free clothes and haircuts. Volunteers also distributed food vouchers worth 220 Brazilian reals (about US$45), 100 school kits, 100 toys, and 300 lunch boxes among the residents.

A Transforming Partnership

For Mara Ramos, who has served at the SAD headquarters for three years, participating in an ADRA initiative was a learning experience. “We learned about the process, mainly during the volunteer training,” Ramos said. “It was great to get to the place of knowing what everyone had to do. We performed our tasks with a smile on our faces.”

For Luana Silva, mother of seven and one of the beneficiaries of the food voucher, the timing of the assistance she received was very welcome. “It will help us make it to the end of the month,” Silva said. “I thank every single donor, and I hope God blesses them. And please come back. We need you.”

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