Displaced people at a border town benefit from assistance while staying in shelters.
Under its motto “Justice, Compassion, and Love,” the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia recently distributed 1,100 hygiene kits among Venezuelan migrants in the northern town of Arauquita, in the Arauca Department.
The kits distributed by ADRA workers and volunteers will benefit 1,100 Venezuelan families displaced after conflicts broke out in the area. The families recently arrived in the border city of 43,000 looking for shelter.
According to ADRA Colombia country director Jair Flórez, the displaced migrants have been accommodated in several local government shelters across the city. “Thanks to ADRA’s efforts over five days, 1,100 families are now better prepared to face their current challenges,” he said.
The kits included toothbrushes for adults and children, toothpaste, deodorant, and bath soap, ADRA reported. They also had a comb, laundry soap, sanitary pads, and diapers.
Flórez explained that the initiative was funded through a partnership of several regional offices, including ADRA International, which assigned US$10,000 to the project. For its part, ADRA Inter-America added US$7,000, and the North Colombia Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church sent another US$3,000 to fund the initiative. The Adventist volunteer GARSA Rescue team traveled to Arauquita to support local church members and volunteers in the distribution of kits to families in need.
This is not the first time that ADRA Colombia has stepped up to assist migrants arriving in Colombia from Venezuela. Since 2018, the agency has been working on a variety of projects to cover the basic needs of displaced people. Just one of those projects in 2019 saw ADRA invest US$2.5 million over seven months to provide basic hygiene kits and health care to thousands of migrants arriving from Venezuela. That same year, ADRA supported other people groups and organizations assisting the new influx of migrants, including some indigenous communities in the north that embraced the new arrivals. In 2020, ADRA Colombia set up a mobile clinic unit by a main highway to offer medical assistance to migrants who had decided to walk back north to Venezuela during the nationwide lockdown.
According to government statistics, by the end of 2020, more than 1.74 million displaced Venezuelans were living in Colombia, something that presents officials and humanitarian agencies with significant logistical and financial challenges.
In that context, ADRA Colombia has had a long history of active participation in initiatives that have benefited thousands of people in need, providing them with basic needs, including free medical care, Flórez reported. He shared about one particular woman who recently sent a letter to ADRA after benefiting from free medical consultations. She wrote, “Thank you, ADRA, for supporting so many people, especially those in need of medical care.” The woman shared that she had been sick and wasn’t able to secure proper care. “But then I wrote to ADRA, and they soon helped me get the tests I needed and a diagnosis,” she commented. “Thank you, ADRA, because when I felt nobody cared and I soon would be dead, you gave me the hope of living again.”
Flórez reiterated that the agency is always ready to assist others when there is a need due to natural disasters or other crises. He explained that many of these initiatives are accomplished thanks to partnerships and the loyalty of many anonymous supporters. “We want to thank every advocate, every volunteer, and every donor who makes it possible for ADRA to fulfill its mission of care,” Flórez said. “Your support has allowed us to cover the basic needs of many people and share the message of hope.”
The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.