3rd February 2017

Ian Sweeney, Chair of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA-UK), returned from Nepal this week after spending ten days visiting the UKaid co-financed ELIVES project with Bert Smit, CEO of ADRA-UK. During his visit, a film crew accompanied them to film an upcoming new documentary highlighting the success stories of the development project.

Sweeney was visiting the Terai region in Nepal, where ADRA and its local nepalpartners are providing knowledge, tools and techniques to assist 30,000 farmers to increase their vegetable and goat production. By building on their existing livelihoods and skills, ADRA is working with the community to address their own poverty challenges and embrace opportunities that will increase their household income.

"It was a life-changing experience for me to witness first-hand the work that ADRA is doing to alleviate poverty in Nepal and to empower some of the world's poorest to improve their lives through education and building on their own available experience and local expertise", said Sweeney reflecting on his recent trip. "I am honoured to chair a board of nepal2such committed individuals that work in ADRA-UK providing humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of people overseas."

However, as well as working with the poor in several countries around the world, ADRA-UK has recently partnered with Adventist Community Services (ACS) in the British Union Conference (BUC) to provide funding for humanitarian projects based right here in the United Kingdom. This 'first' for ADRA-UK will provide much needed resources for food banks, night shelters, luncheon clubs and the many other initiatives that are run by the volunteers of the nearly 320 Seventh-day Adventist congregations throughout the length and breadth of the UK.  For the past 28 years that ADRA-UK has operated, most of its funding has gone to assist the world's poorest overseas, some of which live in appalling conditions. The work that ADRA-UK has completed and continues to do, is helping to lift the hundreds of thousands of individuals out of poverty, provide them with more sanitary and humane conditions and educate them in areas of agri-business, sustainability and healthy living among other things.

For over 15 years, ADRA-UK has helped to fund the annual disability camp that is held at the Aberdaron campsite in Wales and since 2008 financially supported the work of the Adventist Special Needs Association (ASNA). However, it will now expand the funding of projects in the United Kingdom and help the many people in this country who are experiencing hardship. The United Kingdom may be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but according to a report in the Guardian newspaper on the 16 May, 2016 based on statistics from the Office kW7lCWRf_400x400of National Statistics, (2014), "one in three people have experienced poverty in recent years", often due to the preponderance of low-paid, low-skilled work which has pushed many families into dire hardship.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that in 2014, 6.5% of the population were living in persistent poverty. That equates to nearly 4 million people who are living in poverty. In the United Kingdom! In the 21st century! And that's totally unacceptable!

The volunteers that run the projects in the local churches give many unpaid hours to ensure that poverty and hardship are alleviated in some way. The hours, if quantified in monetary terms, equate to thousands and thousands of pounds each year and their contribution really does assist people such as John*, who become homeless after a messy divorce and benefits from the Advent Centre Shelter in London that is run by the South England Conference over the Christmas season.

The trustees of ADRA-UK recently voted that 20% of the monies raised directly from the door-to-door appeal in 2017 will benefit UK initiatives. A minimum of 10% of these funds will be administered by the Adventist Community Services (ACS) under the direction of Sharon-Platt-McDonald, at the BUC. "I am very excited about this new partnership between ADRA-UK and ACS which will greatly benefit the people of the United Kingdom. There are increasing areas of need in this country and with the help of our members collecting in their communities, we can assist those who are in persistent poverty."

Bert Smit, CEO of ADRA-UK, commenting on ADRA-UK's forthcoming Appeal said, "If every member get out there and becomes a door-to-door fundraiser, we can really help to relieve poverty in the UK in addition to the many people we assist around the world." He continued by saying that, "ADRA-UK welcomes the opportunity to expand its work in the United Kingdom and to work even more closely with the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in this country."

The old adage states that DSC_1771'charity begins at home' and in the case of the new partnership between ADRA-UK and Adventist Community Services, charity will not only begin at home, but it will stay at home, as well.

ADRA-UK will however, also continue its life-affirming work abroad to ease the burden of poverty with the millions of people who are affected, because, 'a life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change'.

ADRA-UK's Annual Appeal will run from 25 March until 9 April (outside London) and 16 April (Greater London).

A full interview with Ian Sweeney regarding his Nepal trip with ADRA-UK will be featured in the Messenger (24 February). The documentary will be released in spring 2017.


[Catherine Boldeau]

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