Religious organizations have faced the challenge of finding ways to reduce the disastrous effects of the pandemic on society. In that context, Seventh-day Adventist institutions and organizations in the South American Division (SAD) have assisted more than two million people in the first six months of 2021, according to church data. The assistance includes a variety of services provided across the eight countries comprising the church region — Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
ADRA and Adventist Solidarity Action (ASA)
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in South America carried out 112 projects across the territory from January to June 2021. The humanitarian agency initiatives resulted in 972,233 people directly benefited. ADRA has partnerships with public agencies and private entities as part of its ongoing service to those in dire need.
Adventist Solidarity Action (ASA), a ministry active across local Adventist congregations, also helped those with needs. According to church data, ASA led 51,286 solidarity projects, with 953,044 people impacted. Overall, records show that ASA volunteers collected three million kilograms (6.61 million pounds) of food. Another 60,026 people participated in ASA-hosted human development courses.000
“Life for Lives” and “A Friend’s Ear”
Another ongoing action was the project to encourage blood donation. “Vida por Vidas” (Life for Lives), coordinated by the SAD Youth Ministries department, has been active for several years. In the first half of 2021, it managed to enroll 63,277 donors in the initiative. A sizable percentage of these donors regularly donate to blood banks, something essential for maintaining stocks.
The “A Friend's Ear” initiative, launched during the pandemic, is now active across the eight SAD countries. The project offers free primary care to people seeking psychological help because of anxiety, depression, or other disorders. From January to June 2021, the project served 7,097 people.
The Adventist Educational Network has also contributed to the number of people assisted. Adventist schools across the region saw 50,661 helped, thanks to 25,033 essential-items baskets.
SAD president Stanley Arco said that the data highlight at least two issues. The first is that society needs ongoing initiatives, not just one-time events. “As Seventh-day Adventists, we are seeking not only to launch commendable projects but to keep them going constantly, so there is a process of continuity in serving the most vulnerable,” he said.
The second aspect, according to Arco, is that initiatives are not only driven by Adventist institutions or official organizations. Behind these numbers, he explained, there is the dedication and love from many volunteers willing to reach out to serve others. “These figures are the result of the love and faith of people who, moved by the Holy Spirit, are eager to alleviate the pain of those who are suffering around us,” Arco said.