June 23, 2021 | Bogotá, Colombia | Elva Gómex Oviedo, ADRA Colombia, and Inter-American Division News

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’s workers and volunteers will benefit 1,100 families of Venezuelans who were displaced after conflicts broke out in the area and arrived in the 43,000-resident border city 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 during five days, 1,100 families are now better prepared to face their current challenges,” he said.

ADRA Colombia volunteers begin distributing hygiene kits to 1,100 Venezuelan migrants in the northern town of Arauquita in Arauca, Colombia, since April 20201. Thousands of Venezuelans have filled the border city in Colombia looking for shelter after fleeing from economic crisis in their home country. [Photo: ADRA Colombia]

The kits included toothbrushes for adults and children, toothpaste, deodorant, and bath soap, ADRA reported. They also included a comb, laundry soap, sanitary pads, and diapers.

Florez explained that the initiative was funded thanks to a partnership between various regional offices, including ADRA International, that assigned US$10,000 to the project. For its part, ADRA Inter-America added US$7,000, and the North Colombia Union Conference sent another US$3,000 to fund the initiative. The GARSA Rescue team traveled to Arauquita to support local lay church members and volunteers in the distribution of the kits to the families in need.

It 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 in different projects to cover for the displaced people’s basic needs. Just one of those projects in 2019 saw ADRA invest US$2.5 million during seven months to provide basic hygiene kits and health-care to thousands of migrants arriving from Venezuela. That same year, ADRA also supported other people groups and organizations assisting the new influx of migrants, including some indigenous communities in the north that embraced the new arrivals. Last year, ADRA Colombia set up a mobile clinic unit by a main highway to offer medical assistance to migrants that decided to walk north back to Venezuela for days during the nationwide lockdown.

An ADRA volunteer distributes a hygiene kit to a head of family in Arauquita in the northern border city of Arauquita, Colombia, recently. [Photo: ADRA Colombia]

According to government statistics, by the end of 2020 there were more than 1.74 million Venezuelans displaced living in Colombia, something that presents officers and humanitarian agencies with significant logistical and financial challenges.

In that exacting context, ADRA Colombia is known as having 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 ADRA a letter after benefiting with free medical consultations. She wrote, “Thank you, ADRA for supporting so many people, especially those in need of medical care.” The woman then shared that she was sick and hadn’t been 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.”

Each hygiene kit distributed included toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and bath soap for adults and children  as well as a comb, laundry soap, sanitary pads, and diapers. [Photo: ADRA Colombia]

Flórez reminded that the agency is always ready to assist others when there is a need due to natural disasters or other crises. Many of these initiatives, he explained, are accomplished thanks to partnerships and the loyalty of many anonymous supporters. “We want to thank every advocate, every volunteer, and every donor who make possible for ADRA to fulfill its mission of care,” Flórez said. “Your support has allowed to cover the basic needs of many people and share the message of hope.”

To know more about ADRA Colombia projects and opportunities to help, visit the agency accounts on Facebook.

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