The Seventh-day Adventist Church in western Venezuela sprang into action to help hundreds of families affected by the torrential rains that overflowed rivers and flooded communities in the state of Táchira in November 2020.
Many municipal districts were left without power and enough drinking water, local officials said.
“One of the first communities to be impacted by the rains was Rubio, where 3,345 persons were affected in the first week of the flooding,” said Ever Becerra, communication director for the Adventist Church in the Southwest Venezuela Conference. “But estimates of the affected families surpass 10,000,” he continued. Another 750 people were affected, including 50 Adventist families in Santa Ana and several neighboring communities, he added.
“We are truly concerned about the disaster that caused many families to lose everything,” said Marcial Escobar, president of the Adventist Church in southwest Venezuela.
Julio Palacio, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) regional director, said that some 3,030 food bags have been distributed throughout the most affected communities, thanks to the assistance of 200 church member volunteers. Food items included non-perishable foods, arepas, plantains, vegetables, clothing items, and more, Palacio said. In addition, a group of professionals offered free medical services to more than 600 people.
“We put out a call to the membership to donate any non-perishable foods, clothes in good condition, shoes, medicines, mattresses, sheets, blankets, water, and baby bottles,” Palacio said. “Despite the [economic] situation in the country, so much came in, including school supplies, that we were able to bring hope to so many families.”
Orlando Ramírez, president of the Adventist Church in West Venezuela, said that union conference leaders immediately made funds available to go toward the disaster in Táchira.
“The funds we sent went to help in providing food for families during the first days of the disaster, and after assessing the damage, we activated an emergency plan for ADRA International,” Ramírez said. “We are looking at how to take care of the church members who have been directly affected and fix the flooding damage done to the only Adventist church in Santa Elena in Táchira.”
Andrea Rojas, a volunteer and friend of one of the affected families, said they were still in shock. “They lost their house and the two cars they had when these were swept away by the waters and said it would be difficult for them to be able to recover what they had.” What’s more, Rojas said, the families are staying in their damaged homes in Santa Helena. “Some of the families are in a terrible situation because there is no place available for them to relocate, they have no place to go, and some have moved to stay with family members,” Rojas said.
Church leaders in West Venezuela said Adventist members and leaders will continue to provide additional assistance during the next weeks. The church recently distributed school supplies and toiletry kits to dozens of children in the affected communities through a special one-day Vacation Bible School activity.
Kelly Santander contributed to this report.