September 24, 2015 | Silver Spring, Mayrland, United States | By Andrew McChesney, news editor, Adventist Review
ADRA kicked off a seven-day “Prayer for Everyone” initiative on Thursday to share with Seventh-day Adventists worldwide its plans to work with the United Nations to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and combat climate change.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is joining other faith communities around the world in promoting the initiative, which is using the hashtag #PrayerforEveryone. Participants seek to support the UN in achieving its Sustainable Development Goals, a 15-year program that starts in January and runs through 2030.
“Let’s join together to pray, to act, and to make the world a better place for all,” ADRA said in a statement on its Facebook page, where it will be posting information about its plans over the next week.
The UN’s Global Goals expand and follow up on the Millennium Development Goals, which were established in 2000 and expire at the end of this year. UN member states have agreed on 17 goals that address more issues than the initial Millennium Development Goals and are to be approved at a UN summit in New York on Sept. 25 to 27.
“All human life is important, and for this reason we join the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations, governments, and communities around the world in this effort,” said Jonathan Duffy, president of ADRA International.
ADRA noted that it has been at the front lines of social change for more than 30 years and its current projects support many of the Global Goals, including ending poverty, achieving food security, and ensuring healthy lives.
“We believe that while we have already made progress toward these goals, there is still so much to be done,” Duffy said in an e-mailed statement. “This is a critical time and the right time to bring impactful and sustainable change to the world. As global citizens we have to come together to make sure that people are thriving.”
Here are four ADRA programs that meet the Global Goals, according to information provided by ADRA:
1. Bananas in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Since its independence from Belgium 55 years ago, the overall production and availability of staple foods in the Democratic Republic of Congo has declined. Cassava and banana are popular foods consumed by most families in ADRA’s targeted region, and both of those crops have been destroyed over the years by diseases. In addition, decades of armed conflict have displaced the workforce, rendered people landless, and instilled fear of being in exposed areas such as farmlands. This conflict has also caused generations to go uneducated, both academically and vocationally.
“This is key because most people in our targeted areas rely on farming as a source of survival and income,” ADRA said. “Because of the fighting, there are generations who have spent their lives migrating and have never gained the training to be able to farm.”
Through ADRA’s JENGA II project, villages have been taught new and improved farming practices to grow new crops and increase their yields to adequately feed their families. In addition, villagers have been provided with the tools they need to combat the diseases that had decimated their cassava and banana crops.
“Today, many villages have adequate food supply, enough to preserve for times of drought or flooding,” ADRA said.
2. Schools in Afghanistan
ADRA has constructed 12 schools in four districts of Afghanistan’s Bamyan province and two schools in the capital, Kabul. Construction is ongoing at three more schools that will provide schooling for 1,500 children from three villages.
Construction of the schools has increased overall school attendance by 25 percent. For girls, the increase in attendance rates has reached 30 percent.
“The central highlands of Afghanistan are some of the poorest and least developed areas of the country,” ADRA said. “Children are thirsty to learn and lack access to basic education.”
3. Healthcare in Nepal
Nepal’s beautiful but arduous terrain made up of mountains, hills, and plains presents major obstacles for families that want to access medical care, including family planning services. Recently, the government of Nepal has prioritized increasing the availability and access to reproductive health and family planning services.
ADRA has been implementing programs to increase the quality of and access to available healthcare. So far, 13,948 people have benefitted from these programs, which teach families more about reproductive health and family planning, with the goal of increasing demand for services.
“Training community volunteers is a crucial part of the program, as well as group counseling and awareness campaigns,” ADRA said.
4. Clean water in Bolivia
In Bolivia, 21 percent of the population does not have consistent access to clean water and 42 percent do not have basic sanitation systems. ADRA Bolivia, in conjunction with the South American country’s authorities, implements projects that allow people in rural areas access to these valuable resources.
A safe-water system that ADRA installed from 2010 to 2014 provided drinking water to 22,100 people and basic sanitation systems to an additional 16,336 people.
ADRA also has been able to influence the sanitation habits of entire communities, thereby reducing disease. In these areas, 70 percent of women and 68 percent of men are now practicing correct hand washing, it said.
“When we arrived in the area, most people did not wash their hands and did not practice personal hygiene,” said Jimena Ramos, an ADRA social facilitator. “If through the program I have been able to change at least one life, I am happy.”
ADRA said one of the biggest accomplishments for the project has been the reduction of diarrheic illnesses in 5-year-old children.
“Thanks to the project, the number of children suffering from these illnesses as a direct cause of bad hygiene has dropped from 26 percent to 14.1 percent,” said Wilfredo Pinto, a senior official with ADRA’s Bolivia office.