ADRA Colombia Director Gabriel Villarreal receives the medal on behalf of Colombia’s House Representative Hernan Sinisterra and Senator Edinson Delgado on Dec. 1, 2015, at the Boyacá Boyacá Room in the Congress building. Images by Shirley Rueda/IAD

December 7, 2015 | Bogota, Colombia | Shirley Rueda/IAD Staff

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia was honored by the House of Representatives in Colombia for the more than 25 years of dedicated work in the country, during a special ceremony held at the Congress building in Bogota on Dec. 1, 2015.

Posing for a photograph from left to right: Wally Amundson, former ADRA Inter-America director, Juan Caicedo, president of the church in Bogota, Gabriel Villarreal, ADRA Colombia director, Representative Hernan Sinisterra and Senator Edinson Delgado.

House Representative Hernan Sinisterra Valencia thanked ADRA for its early role in providing assistance and humanitarian aid in the wake of one of the November 1985 mudslide that buried the town of Armero and claimed the lives of thousands. It is one of the worst tragedies in recent history in the country.

“This inspired me to give this recognition to ADRA, with the purpose to motivate them to continue working and helping the most needy people,” said Sinisterra. “For our part, we will continue to do what we can to continue expanding your humanitarian work,” he added.

Regresentative Sinisterra awarded the Order of Democracy Simon Bolivar Commanders Cross decree certificate and placed the medal on Gabriel Villarreal, ADRA Colombia’s country director.

Villarreal, who has been working with the Adventist agency for eight years received the honor on behalf of ADRA in Colombia and the Adventist Church. “Today, we have been recognized for the work that until now has been done, and now this is a motivation to continue contributing to that peace that we all need in Colombia,” said Villarreal. More than 100 church leaders and church member volunteers witnessed the ceremony.

Senator Edinson Delgado said the recognition was given to ADRA after analyzing the contribution that it had done in favor of the communities in Colombia. The senator also referred to the role the NGOs will be able to play in the post-conflict process in the country.

“After achieving the signing of the end of the armed conflict, we want to achieve the integration of Colombians,” said Senator Delgado. “We have a country that gives opportunities to everyone and NGOs play a fundamental role and should continue contributing to building that new society,” Senator Delgado added.

Church leaders and member volunteers gathered for the history ceremony in the Congress building in Bogota, Colombia.

The recognition of the government in Colombia is a first for ADRA Colombia and one that becomes a historic recognition in Inter-America and around the world, according to Wally Amundson, the recently retired ADRA Inter-America director. ADRA successfully carried out many good initiatives in Colombia, said Amundson, and cited projects like relocating displaced persons, training women head of households for income generating business, family home garden training, emergency and disaster response, and more.

“Colombia is a very special country with many different challenges and the fact that ADRA and its volunteers and professionals are always ready to respond to any situation is something that calls the attention of the government,” said Amundson, who attended the ceremony. Amundson served as ADRA director for more than 23 years in Inter-America.

“I believe that ADRA made a great impact in the life of this country and this is why we are living in this historic moment around the world,” added Amundson.

ADRA was established in 1956 and currently operates 134 local offices around the world providing assistance when disasters strike and for the day-to-day implementation and management of regional programs.

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