The mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro recently received a visit from “The Solidarity Truck,” a mobile service unit maintained by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Brazil. The initiative took place a year after the tragedy caused by heavy rains, which killed dozens of people in the region and left thousands homeless.
During the March action, the truck traveled through Petrópolis, Mesquita, Nova Iguaçu, and other places still suffering the effects of the natural disaster. More than 240 volunteers joined the initiative, helping to distribute approximately 3,000 meals and more than 1,600 pieces of clothing. They also offered about 400 free haircuts, legal advice, and medical care. Free services benefited more than 4,400 people.
According to ADRA Brazil president Fábio Salles, the initiative was a testimony of ADRA’s commitment to offer humanitarian assistance and support communities in need.
“We hope to make a difference in the lives of the people who are still suffering the consequences of that tragedy,” he said.
The specially adapted ADRA truck, with a floor area of 45 square meters (484 square feet), contains three sections. The first is a kitchen where hot meals are prepared. The second is a laundry room with washers and dryers. The third holds offices where volunteer professionals provide free psychological care.
Volunteer physician Luciana Brotto was moved to tears when she witnessed the situation of those living in the streets. “I know it’s a momentary relief,” she said. “Someone is in pain; we give the medicine that relieves their condition, wash and put a dressing on an infected wound. This leads the person to somehow thank God for the blessing of having someone take care of them at that moment.”
Brotto, who has participated in cross-cultural missions in India, Guinea-Bissau, and Brazil’s Piauí and Rondônia regions, said that theirs are small actions, but “they make a difference, because we show God’s love for each one of them.”
Cláudio Braga was a homeless person who eventually left the streets thanks to the community work of a local congregation in Rio de Janeiro. He now volunteers with ADRA’s initiative.
“Being here today is a joy for me, because actions like this make all the difference in the lives of these people who are on the streets,” Braga said. “I have been through it, and I know that we are doing a lot more than just a good action. We are showing them acceptance, which is what they need the most.”