S H A R E:

Celebrating 40 years of Justice, Compassion, and Love

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. ADRA is the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that serves communities regardless of ethnicity, political party, or religious affiliation.  The international non-profit agency works with communities, organizations, and governments to enhance the lives of millions of people via sustainable community development and disaster relief.

“Our 40th anniversary is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our staff members and partners, who have worked relentlessly to provide healing and hope to people in need.  ADRA has made significant progress in its four decades of existence, nevertheless, more work remains.  As we commemorate this milestone, we also look forward to the future and the opportunities to continue making a remarkable difference in underprivileged communities,” says Michael Kruger, president of ADRA International. “ADRA is grateful for the support of donors, volunteers, partners, and the Adventist Church, which make it possible for us to positively impact the lives of the millions of people we serve. We remain committed to our mission of serving humanity so that all people may live as God intended.”

The ADRA History Museum

To serve humanity so all may live as God intended.

Our motto: Justice. Compassion. Love.
ADRA believes that through humanitarian acts we make known the just, merciful, and loving character of God.

ADRA-UK is part of the international network of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency or ADRA. The Seventh-day Adventist church established ADRA to work as an independent charity that can attract external funding for development and relief projects.

Enabling women, men, and children living in some of the world’s poorest communities to create sustainable pathways out of poverty and distress.

ADRA continues to work in a long church tradition of social responsibility and caring for one’s neighbour – wherever they may be. From the very outset of the establishment of the church, its leadership felt that, based on the Biblical narrative, it should address the needs of the poor and impoverished.

Since its start in 1984, ADRA has become an impressive global organisation, and because of its Church roots, has an amazing reach. We partner with most major governments and attract funding from other external donors. ADRA-UK has been able to channel over £40m of aid between 2006 and 2021 to help people escape poverty or distress – all because we are able to tap into large funds available from external donors.

ADRA-UK is a fully self-funding organisation and not dependant on financial assistance from the Church.

This means that ADRA-UK is not supported by the tithe income from the British Union but must raise all the funds for its operation itself. ADRA-UK only exists because of the donations we receive each year, and these donations not only pay our small team (there’s less than ten of us!) but also funds the amazing projects you see in our stories.

ADRA is a Global Organisation

With a global network of over 130 offices, ADRA operates a kind of ‘franchise’ model. We follow, as far as possible, the church structure and all ADRA country offices are operating independently, sharing some common goals, objectives, and marketing models. ADRA country offices then form partnerships with each other to finance and run projects overseas, making sure that donations are going where promised and that there is local supervision by ‘ADRA’ for each of our projects.

ADRA is the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church—which in turn is part of the 20- million Adventists members, hundreds of thousands of churches and the world’s largest integrated healthcare and education network. Our humanitarian work delivers relief and development assistance to individuals in more than 130 countries—regardless of their ethnicity, political affiliation, gender, or religious association. By partnering with local communities, organizations, and governments, we can deliver culturally relevant programmes and build local capability for sustainable change.

Emergency response is where the network normally collaborates at a larger scale: ADRA International coordinates the rapid response to medium and mega size disasters. ADRA offices around the world pool their resources to respond to disasters and the generosity of the Seventh-day Adventist church members means that funds can be raised quickly to help those affected. Our self-funded relief projects are often supported by other donors, such as the UN (United Nations) and international governments.

Our office; ADRA-UK focuses primarily on sustainable, long-term development projects and providing immediate relief to communities affected by disaster. We work in partnership with private donors and with government entities such as the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) and the European Commission (EC).

In our work we focus on health, education, and sustainable livelihoods.

Whereas other relief agencies need to look for partners on the ground in the disaster area, ADRA, both through its network of local offices and through the local churches, can respond. And, unlike other agencies, ADRA and the church will remain to help people in need even after the initial responses have died down.

For decades ADRA-UK has been synonymous with helping to provide the necessities and create opportunities for thousands of people in need overseas. ADRA-UK is helping to provide training and support, improve sustainable food sources, promote sustainable economic development, give access to clean water and sanitation, and help men and women work better together. Of course, ADRA-UK also responds when disasters strike around the globe.

ADRA-UK also provides support here in the UK but only through its I AM Urban initiative that works in partnership with Adventist Community Services.

I AM Urban encourages all SDA congregations in the UK to adopt a sustainable outreach project, to motivate them to become involved in social justice projects and support them to change society for the better through loving service. It is only through the local churches that ADRA can also provide support here at home.

It is through our humanitarian work that we can demonstrate to people the message of hope. ADRA’s work is the “Gospel in Action”, reaching people with friendship and being the feet and hands of Christ by meeting the needs of the people.

We want all our members to appreciate that they are stakeholders and continue to support ADRA.

We also want you, as our ADRA Ambassador, to promote this concept to your church members. All of us need to play an important role in helping to help the disadvantaged peoples of this world.

The first organisation started by the church to care for people in its community is better known as Dorcas – a name adopted from a disciple of Christ who provided for the poor in her community.

Dorcas was started by a group of women in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, in 1874. Activities included making garments and supplying food for needy families, caring for the fatherless and widows, and ministering to the sick.

While this was initially a local perspective it soon widened to include ‘fields near and far’. In many places, over time, Dorcas changed its name and is now known as Adventist Community Services or ACS. Dorcas is still very active in many countries around the world: for instance in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Dorcas or ACS is caring for people in the local church community. But increasingly the outlook of the church became also to help people in other areas and overseas.

In 1956 the ‘Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service’ (SAWS), was created to aid those affected by serious disasters that were becoming more and more frequent. In 1973 the name changed to ‘Seventh-day Adventist World Service’ but it was, however, still a department of the General Conference (GC) largely focussed on North America.

In the 1970’s, external funding for medium term development projects was becoming available in some European countries, and Canada and Australia. The church in Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands applied successfully for government funding to help with overseas humanitarian aid projects, including schools and clinics. Similar applications for funding were successful in other countries, including Australia and Canada.

The Northern European Division established a department to coordinate this new way of securing funding for overseas development projects. This was the Northern European Division Development Aid Department – also referred to as Adventist Development Aid.

Increasingly, however, these funding opportunities demanded a separation of Adventist Development Aid from the general operation of the church. The donors required the assurance of transparency and proper separate accounting of the donated resources.

So in the early 1980’s there were two separate humanitarian organisations: Adventist Development Aid focussed on development and SAWS, mainly working in relief.

In 1984 steps were taken to the merging of Adventist Development Aid and SAWS into what is now known as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. ADRA was officially confirmed as a new agency at the GC autumn council in 1984. The new agency was different from the concept of departments, service or institutions to reflect the clear separation of assets and work.

National ADRA offices were created in the years following as independent organisations that were able to attract external donor funding, providing the assurance of transparency and proper separate accounting of the donated resources.

While Dorcas or ACS is an integral part of the church, it is wholly funded by the church. ADRA operates separately from the church and is thus able to tap into major external funding resources for e.g., ADRA-UK starts to be able to apply for funding from the UK Government and the European Commission (EC).

ADRA is a self-funding organisation, while Dorcas or ACS still receives their funding from the church and form part of the Church Ministries department of the church.

In 1913 hundreds of British Seventh-day Adventists took to the streets to collect for World- Wide Advent Missions for the first time. They took magazines such as The Watchman, which produced a special ‘Harvest Ingathering’ edition, and offered them to people in return for a donation. Harvest Ingathering was started by Jasper Wayne in Iowa, USA. In 1903 he mistakenly received a double order of some denominational literature, and started distributing it in return for funds for missions. The response was favourable, so he shared his idea with the president of the Nebraska Conference.

In 1908 the General Conference recommended that all churches adopt the programme called ‘Harvest Ingathering’. The money raised went mainly to global mission work: sending missionaries to places unreached by Christianity; building churches, schools, hospitals and orphanages, as well as community programmes within the donor countries. In 100 years of Ingathering, hundreds of millions of pounds have been raised towards the expanding evangelistic and humanitarian work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world.

Ingathering: The Early Years

During the early years of Harvest Ingathering just a few hundred pounds were raised, but within ten years this increased rapidly, and annual targets of around £2,000 were set for the British Union Conference.

1924 Harvest Ingathering Appeal
‘If we had more money, we [would] have missionaries we could send out who would
do faithful work. Large sections of Africa have never even heard of Christ. We must send them this Gospel message. The same is true of other parts of this Division. We are greatly in need of more mission funds during the last months of 1924. We thank our brethren for what they have done and we hope that their gifts may increase yet more.’ The Missionary Worker, 1924.

Collecting for missions was not unusual. Other missionary societies had been doing so for many years, so people were not unfamiliar with the request to support foreign missions.

1932 – an Ingathering Account
‘Students from Newbold unknowingly worked some territory in London that had already been worked by one of our churches, [members of which] had called it “bad” territory. Yet one student gathered well over £4 per day for several days there! His card showed good donations from a Mother Superior, and from a Christian Scientist, while a hospital matron collected £14 from her staff! Is any territory ever “finished”, and is any courage ever unrewarded?’ The Missionary Worker, 1931. (In 1931, an individual target of £2 was set.)

1933 – an Ingathering Account
‘We decide to work the shops in Barnsley. I enter a gentleman’s outfitters and approach the gentleman in a “half-crown” way to the best of my ability. He replies, “Sorry, I can’t afford a penny, things are pretty bad here.” I keep on smiling, and at last he says, “Of course you don’t believe me, and doubtless you think I am not interested in religious things, but I am very interested in the book of Revelation. Last Thursday, I went over to Manchester and searched the second-hand book shops for something to help me understand that wonderful book. Do you know,” he said, “I get up at five o’clock in the morning before the children awake and study that book.” ‘What do you think happened? Why, of course, I sold him a copy of Daniel and the Revelation, and also got a shilling for Ingathering. A few minutes before that he had stated he couldn’t afford a penny.’ E. E. Craven, The Missionary Worker, 1933.

Harvest Ingathering used to go on for months at a time, but in 1942 they started reducing the time for Ingathering reporting, ‘having only seven weeks to do the work’.

1944 – Ingathering during the War
‘At the present time we estimate that about 2,000 of our members are within the “flying bomb area” and many of them have suffered severe damage to their homes. However, in spite of the upsetting influence of these wartime conditions, our work has been pressed forward with faith and vigour. It is fully expected that 1944 will close with a record income for home and overseas work.’ British Advent Messenger, 1944.

In 1961, 9,277 church members raised over £76,000 for missions.

1966 – Ingathering is rewarding ‘Ingathering can be fun, interesting, and very rewarding. What has changed my attitude from that of my previous dread of meeting the people? Just that people have been so willing.

‘Instead of thinking only of the needy people we are helping, I became interested in the givers, and found a diversity of individuality at each knock of the door.

‘In a short period I met the following: a dear old lady of 86 with a wealth of wisdom and sweetness who couldn’t open her purse because of arthritic joints; needless to say I found her an easier purse, an old one, but received with such gratitude! She is now on my visiting list.

‘Next, two little girls playing by themselves at dressing up. I suggested they could be King and Queen dispensing gifts to poor subjects who needed help. They responded with pennies from their money box and played even “happier” after.

‘A commercial traveller had never given to charity and never would: “So much money goes on administration.” We talked and I showed him my auditor’s account. He was impressed and gave. I laughingly told him I had indeed won a victory. “But only on your balance sheet,” he said!

‘And so on, every knock an adventure and still two more weeks of fun and work. With the love of God and our neighbours in our hearts, surely we receive great blessings.’ Public Relations secretary, Wood Green Church.

In 1963, the fiftieth anniversary of Ingathering, over £80,000 was collected. By 1980, a cumulative total of over $289 million had been collected globally.

In 2002, after decades of collecting for the charity World-Wide Advent Missions (WWAM), the members of the British Union Conference started collecting for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency – ADRA-UK. This was essentially an organisational change, as much of the money raised for WWAM in the previous years was already delivering projects through ADRA. Messenger, 2002.

‘In recent years’ members and churches have become more creative in their fundraising, and wonderful events such as fun runs, concerts and sponsored bike rides take place each year. However, for the past six years’ funds have hovered around the £600,000 mark. While it sounds like a lot, it works out at around £20 per member, and due to inflation the actual value of this money has decreased.’

(Source: The Messenger, March 2013 – special ADRA edition 100 years collecting for people in need)

2022 – The end of scheduled national door collections

For decades, 100% of what was raised during ‘ingathering’ came from door-to-door collections across the British Isles.

However, the popularity of the door-to-door collections was waning even before COVID-19 came into the picture.

In 2019, just over 20% of what we raised during the ADRA Appeal period came from people knocking on doors and collecting money. The other 80% was generated in our churches through personal donations and church fundraising events such as concerts, cake sales and auctions.

The pandemic forced us to cancel the door collections in both 2020 and 2021. Instead, we asked our church members to donate directly to ADRA to help. In late 2021, we consulted our stakeholders about the door-to-door collection planned for 2022.

The consensus from our stakeholders was that the concept of the door-to-door collections was unpopular, antiquated and no longer fit for purpose. Reflecting on their response, with input from the church leadership and our Board members, we decided that, in view of the potential risks and the COVID-19 pandemic uncertainties, we would not organise public door- to-door collections in 2022.

An increasingly cashless society and a challenging cash depositing situation have also led us to conclude that we do not see a way to bring back the door-to-door collections on a national level. However, local churches may approach local councils, with our support, to apply for a collection license at a time of their choosing if in future should they individually wish to collect again.

With the end of scheduled national door collections, we have come to the end of decades of door knocking which has supported millions around the globe. But fund raising is not over. There are so many other ways of raising money for ADRA-UK. Imagine if every member raised £50 this year. We have a wonderful history of fundraising behind us; let’s ensure it continues. Whatever you do, please don’t ‘do nothing’. The money you raise does make a difference.

September 1993 – DIARY – Trip to Sarajevo – David Balderstone

‘Here I am in Zagreb. Last night the Walsall Aid convoy arrived. Over 50 trucks and more than 100 people. To see all those British trucks and vans come pouring into the car park made us feel really good. They were escorted by local police on motorbikes.

Over the weekend a couple of rockets landed somewhere near Zagreb. Down the road at Karlovac some people were killed by missile. It seems as if there are new things happening. Some say it is because the UN mandate is coming up for renewal soon and each side has reasons for waking the other up.

Last night we heard that one of the towns we have to go through and which we are to stay at, Banja Luka, came under fire yesterday. Still there can be fighting one day and be all quiet the next. Let’s hope so.

Yesterday, we saw the Austrian/ Bosnian man, Gabriel, who is leading our 3-truck convoy. He went through 3 or 4 weeks ago. He said we have to expect interesting times. There are places where the front lines between the two forces are only 30 metres apart. We have to go between them. Near Sarajevo, they call one area ‘sniper valley’. Let’s hope it is quiet on the day we go through. We heard that some of the ADRA people in Sarajevo were rounded up by Muslims yesterday. Don’t know what for – maybe we can find out today.

When we arrived at the warehouse on Thursday a.m. we had to unload part of our load and fill up with more food. Sure sweated some. At 6.45am we set off for Viskosci, about 300km away. Roads are interesting – very narrow. The driving here is terrible – they all drive like mad. I feel a lot safer up here – 2 or 3 metres above the cars. They overtake on bends, white lines, inside lines. We have seen several accidents. Saw one guy who pulled out in front of us – drunk. He weaved his way up the road for a couple of miles and eventually after stopping twice, gave up. We stayed well back from him and so did a couple of cars which overtook us.

Once we got to Viskosci, the Pastor met us at the ‘new wall outside the graveyard’. We got to his church in the small streets of the town. It was a festival weekend, so the centre was blocked off.  We could see some houses and flats with bullet holes and one or two places blown up on the approach road. As we travelled to the other side of town, whole streets were damaged, and most places abandoned. Then we came to the edge of town and here everything was destroyed. The ends of some streets were barricaded off and we were told that the Serb troops were 500 yards away.

The hospital, a four-storey building, had been badly damaged. All the top floors were unusable, but the low buildings around had been repaired and were now back in use. It is so sad to see the chaos which war brings. It will take a long time and huge sums of money to put it all back together again. The truck had to be unloaded into the church hall. That was a 25 yrd trek and there were only 5 helpers. I told the Pastor to find another 15. It took 2 ½ hours to unload. Very tiring work. We had a meal before setting off.

When we left Viskosci, we spent the weekend at the SDA college in Marusevec. Here it was nice to meet some English-speaking people. We were invited for lunch. In the young people’s meeting we were asked to speak a bit.

13th September

It is Monday morning. We are waiting, waiting, waiting – always waiting. If we had not agreed to go to Sarajevo, we would be crossing over tonight back to England. We spent all day Monday loading our truck. All the parcels had the names and addresses written down in a book before we could load them. Our truck took 2,500. We worked until 5pm.

Went back to the motel and got a shower and some good food. Nice to talk to the English guys. A few eyebrows raised when we told them where we were going.

Tuesday 14th September

Had some help today. Ivan’s wife and daughter came to help us. We finished off our truck and started to fill Gavro’s truck. He wants to go back to Vienna to get more parcels for delivery in Sarajevo. More delay. I don’t suppose he will show until late tomorrow – if then.

Wed. 15th

Waiting – frustration. Ivan told us it will be one day to Sarajevo and one day back. Let’s get going.

Thursday 16th

Looks like we are off. BUT not until 12.30.   Got onto a good road between Zagreb – Belgrade. Stop to get special pass. Police keep stopping to talk to us while we wait. We tell them we are going to Sarajevo. They shrug. No animosity. It surprises me. We get to the UNPROFOR point, and meet a Jordanian officer. He will take us through across the lines. They escort us for 20 miles or so. Past blown up bridges and burnt-out buildings. We pass farmers working in the fields. Come to more checkpoints and have to wait for ages at, I think, a customs post for clearance.

We drive on to Banja Luka. I am driving into the night. We end up in Banja Luka centre.  They have had trouble and tanks are in the streets. We just get past one, but the next one had its barrel across our way. They wind the turret round. We squeeze past. Then its round all the back streets. It tests my driving skills. We are made very welcome by the Pastor and his family. They all speak English. Phoned England spoke to Steve. Tell him it won’t be a short trip. We don’t know what is ahead of us.

Friday 17th

Expect an early start but Gavro had different ideas. We unload some stuff into the basement of the church. Here I see the ADRA operation for the first time. People come in with a card which shows they are registered. They are checked and then some food is handed up through the basement window to them. Works well. A truck from Belgrade came in while we were there. Banja Luka to Belgrade is through the Serbian corridor now called Krajina. It is a fairly regular trip for vehicles now. The truck is now partly unloaded and people start to bring parcels for Sarajevo. We are anxious to get going. In front of us we have a 10 hour drive. We get going, passing rolling countryside, normal villages, burnt out villages. One town called D. had had a real pasting – what a mess. We climb up through towns and through abandoned countryside. We take to dirt roads as we take a tortuous route through small villages, avoiding troubled areas. Evening approaches.  We have developed an air lead on the truck. Bob is worried about it as we are beginning to lose our half gears. He’s had an air valve go before. It’s getting worse. We start to climb into the hills surrounding Sarajevo. It’s a long hard climb and the truck grinds on up in the low gear. All our half gears have gone. It’s dark and in our lights we can see we are passing through bombed out areas. Keep climbing until we eventually come to Pale just 25 km from Sarajevo. We stop and spend the night with a lady and her son. They make us welcome. Give us beds. They are refugees from Sarajevo and are living in a Muslim house. The owner is a Muslim truck owner and because of this he has to live in Sarajevo. The people minding the house are Serbs, but friends of the Muslim so are looking after his houses. It is all so strange out here because everyone seems to know and have friends on the other side. They blame the people who come in from Bosnia for causing problems. They say they can all live together in Sarajevo. Did before and will again.


After a bread roll, we are off. The scenery is fantastic. Just like Austria. High mountains, deep valleys. We are on a small road climbing around the side of the mountains. There is another road that Gavro went on last time – ‘sniper alley’. In places both sides are facing each other about 20 yards apart and the road goes between the two. I’m glad we are not on it. Suddenly we come round a corner and there in front of us in the valley is Sarajevo. Parts of the tall modern buildings are derelict. What a mess in parts. Other parts appear untouched. We gradually descend into the outskirts of the city. We are passing alongside a fortified road with troops well dug in. Feel a bit tense and wonder what’s at the bottom. We drive into a compound. They are making bread for the army here. The place is called Lukavica. It was an army bakehouse. Inside the building are about 5 mobile ovens for baking bread. We are greeted like old friends by all. We have soup and a bread roll.  We don’t know why we are waiting because we cannot talk with Gavro.  Later a man comes in and tells us he is a Serb liaison officer and is arranging for us to come across the line tomorrow Sunday. All sorts of people turn up. One lady and her cousin spoke English and invited us back to her village. It seems she is married to a Muslim. Her cousin is a Croat. They live in a village 1 ½ miles outside the city. Their husbands are in the city. They haven’t seen each other for 1 ½ years. They send letters and food via ADRA.


The people with whom we stayed last night came with food parcels for people in Sarajevo. Army trucks brought more parcels for relatives in Sarajevo. We are supposed to cross the line at 9. – 9.30. We are still here at 9.00 and more and more parcels arriving. We must have loaded another ton at least. We’re off. Truck is playing up. Air valve is nearly gone and we are just about at the most dangerous part of the journey. We come to an army camp, up to the last barrier before no-man’s land. Bob says valve has gone. We are running on compressor only. Do we go on? We go. We get stuck under an avenue of trees. Top of trailer gets bent. The Combi and Gavro’s truck got through. Bob is furious. It was great to see him shouting about getting a chain saw and doing some tree felling. All this in an area which is potentially dangerous. A UN convoy was passing through. He said surely they would have a chain saw. He went stomping up and down shouting at Gavro and everyone else. We have to back out. Our slotted time is gone. We are late.   Eventually, we get out and are shown another way. It is just a cart track over narrow open sided bridges.  Some real tight corners. One in particular would have taken me some real working out. I’m glad I have a professional driver with me on this trip…. Overhead you hear and see the NATO jets letting everyone know they are there. Can’t see it does much good, but who knows. We have to run at right angles and only just make it. Come to a crossroads by a house. Have to jack-knife the trailer to get it round. Only just do it. Don’t know how we will get back – maybe have to push over the lamp post.

Now we are on the end of the runway. A big Hercules plane lands. We come up to a UN post. He checks our papers. On we go. Feel very exposed as we trundle down the side of the runway. Over to our right hand are acres of smashed up and burned-out buildings. Who is looking at us? On the other side, across the runway, is the Serb side with Mount Igman in the background. A UN armoured car races past. We head for the control tower and pass behind it. There are lots of UN vehicles inside earth barricades. We pass on and come to our first Muslim check point. We leave the checkpoint and pass into chaos. Burnt out tanks, buildings, debris on roads. UN convoys racing about. Buildings half demolished but still inhabited in the half away from the firing line. We come to a police post and have to pull in. Lots of talking. The odd bullet whistles past – but it is apparently a quiet day. Where is the ADRA man? He doesn’t show up. We wait. Police escort us to ADRA warehouse. It is now after 12 and we are supposed to be crossing back again at 4 – some hope. Between us we have carried 3500/4000 parcels.  These are now unloaded into the warehouse upstairs. A human chain is formed and we pass the boxes up. Bob is in the truck and I am at the top of the stairs. I don’t know how they will sort them all out. We eventually finish at 6.30 – too late to leave Sarajevo now. We will have to apply on Monday for clearance. Another 24 hours.


We go to the warehouse. There are hundreds of people looking at about 10 lists up on each of the eight notice boards. These lists are the names of those who have received parcels. They then go to the desk and tell them that parcel no. ? is theirs. They have to show identification and are then given a slip of paper. They take that up to one of 4 very large rooms. All the parcels are on pallets and are numbered by computer. People are really pleased to get them. I talk to some of the people who were working with me yesterday. It’s surprising how many of them want to try out their English on me. One guy has worked in Iraq. Another has a sister-in-law in London. Others have worked in Oxford. Many are football enthusiasts. I see them start sorting out the parcels we brought. The man in charge of the computer who was a professor at the University has brought in some of his former pupils to help. They take names and addresses and number parcels. They are then put on the computer and the lists are printed out. Good system. While I was there one of the girls found a parcel addressed to her. Delight all around.

Meanwhile Bob has dumped the trailer and gone off to find an air valve. He was taken to a truck company yard where there were many trucks and many damaged. Bullets through the screens, bodies damaged, etc…. They found him an air valve and it fitted perfectly. They will get paid in rations later. Bob gave them a carton of chocolates. We are very relieved because we didn’t expect to get back to Zagreb on the compressor only.

We are taken on a tour of Sarajevo in a minibus belonging to ADRA. We pass new and badly damaged Parliament buildings; past so many newish buildings which have been shot to bits – half of them gone. Houses with holes right through, streets with accumulated rubbish and holes in roads. So many abandoned cars – many used as protection against snipers alongside walkways. We come up to the river and cross over – this area is dangerous because we are in clear view of any snipers hidden in the Serb part of town just up the slope. Our driver says they can see the ADRA sign on the truck so we should be OK. I feel rather exposed sitting on that side of the bus. We cross the river again and drive at a great rate of knots along a clear stretch of road. We pass the Hilton Hotel. They still use the rear half of it. We go to the UNPF H/Q to see about our clearance with the liaison officer for tomorrow, Tuesday. It has to be left with them for 24 hours. In the background you hear the occasional sound of gunfire. The odd bullet whistles by. The people feel they are in a prison camp. In reality they are surrounded by an enemy in all the hills.  The ordinary people want peace and to get on with their lives. Here at the warehouse Muslims, Serbs and Croats all work together. They get one good meal a day. Why can’t the rest of the country work together the same?

Tuesday 21st.

So, we are supposed to be leaving here this morning around 9am. Spent the night in the Pastor’s house. These people are very friendly but feel very cut off. Over the evening meal we discussed the problems ADRA is having. They seem really pleased that Gavro and we have established a route through from Zagreb. They are having problems getting stuff through from Belgrade. They encourage us to keep coming. We feel we ought to. After waiting until 10.15 we hear there is something not right with our exit papers. It may be that the group from Belgrade have not got something right, so that is holding us all up. They are going to try and get us out separately later today. All liaison officers have to agree. UNFP needs 24 hours to get it sorted. Last night we heard a bit of gun fire in the city, and some heavy stuff away up in the hills. This morning there has been more. It’s not far away. The city lies in a valley surrounded by hills so that when a gun goes off the sound reverberates on and on. It seems strange sitting here and looking up at the hills not more than ½ mile away and realising that enemy eyes are looking down. In the streets people are walking, cycling, pushing barrows and trolleys or pram wheels as they go about looking for food. As they pass open areas between blocks of flats they pass behind trucks, trailers and old buses which act as screens to stop sniper bullets coming through. The city is wrecked in some parts. Tall blocks of flats have been burned out and stand as blackened monuments pointing at the sky. A few people in cars tear along beside the river which acts as a sort of front line between the Serb community and the rest of the city. Always there is the danger of snipers. Bob has just come back. He’s been talking to one of the Belgrade truck drivers. It seems it’s easy to get into the city but the police make it difficult to leave. We have a hot line telephone number which we might try later. Still people talk about us getting out today. Let’s hope so. The highlight for the people in these houses is that the water pressure has come back up again. We are on the 3rd floor and have got running water again instead of having to carry it up from the basement. They are filling all the containers. You wash your hands in a basin in the bath, then empty it into a bucket which is used for flushing the loo. Such is life in an emergency situation. It seems strange. There was a time when both water and electricity was off.

Outside the church there is a letterbox where people bring their mail. Some is for distribution around the city, some for outside and some overseas. It is all sorted and boxed and about forty people carry the post around the city. It is a real organisational challenge here. The mail is sorted under the church and then taken to various places under blocks of flats in sacks. From there it goes out with ‘postmen’. They handle 10,000 letters per month. Well, the bad news is that we don’t leave until tomorrow. We went home with an ADRA colleague. His wife gave us a drink and then we went for a walk. We went down to visit a couple of soup kitchens. One kitchen looked after kids – one meal a day 450 kids. The other fed 950 adults. All experience problems with supplies. These places were in old schools in the middle of housing estates of 6/8 storey flats. Hundreds of people, damaged buildings, odd flats with shell holes in. Outside, the school grounds were dug up for vegetables. We are taken home at 10pm at breakneck speed through dark streets with road blocks looming out of the darkness. Curfew was just about in. Driving here is a nightmare.

Wednesday 22nd

Up at 7.15am. We are going today. They talk of 8 but that means 9 or 10am or later. There will be 9 of us in convoy – our 3 and 6 others. Some are going to Belgrade. We wait for a paper. Down to the Depot at around 10am. Lots of talking. Leave at 11. Down to police post. Wait for one hour. Next post, WAIT. Pass through devastated area near airport. Wait for clearance on outskirts of airport. This is the last Muslim post before the airport. They check our vehicle, passports. Another hour passes. UN vehicles go rushing by. All the vehicles are armoured and personnel in flak-jackets. Makes us feel a little vulnerable. We’re off. 300 yrds UNPROFOR checkpoint. Now we pass through airport past aircraft unloading, new troops arriving, more waiting. Now we are out on the runway edge. It’s a lovely day – good day for snipers, but all is quiet. We negotiate narrow tracks and come out into the road – we’ve crossed the line okay. More waiting – more clearance – needed 1 ½ hours to pass. We are parked alongside a dug in tank. Off we go again round the corner to Lukavica. Soup and a meal – lots of friendly people. Many letters have come with us and are eagerly given out. Army guys sit around reading letters from the loved ones on the other side. Girls whose husbands are Muslims get letters. The lady we had an evening meal with got 4 letters from her husband. What are people thinking? There they are in the Serb army sending letters via ADRA through the lines. It is a real mix up.

4.00 we are off. Bob and I feel good as we have phoned our wives. Shame Audrey wasn’t there – still at least she will know we have crossed the line okay. As we climb the hill we get a smashing view of Sarajevo. It is a beautiful day and we can see the full horror of the damage. Poor people down there – when will it ever end?

We start to pass the fortified road. Log edges, bunkers, earthworks. Around a corner we come across one of the ADRA trucks which left ahead of us. A great pool of oil in the road. It’s thrown a rod or piston straight out of the side. No luck today. Gavro stops. We are alongside some of the gun nests that overlook Sarajevo. We are warned that Muslim snipers shoot here. Fortunately, we are shielded by the trees. Gavro takes the truck in tow. Pulls it a couple of miles uphill to where there is a lay-by then goes back for the trailer. We wait. It is now nearly 6pm. We won’t get far tonight. I wonder if we will get to Zagreb tomorrow. I wonder when I’ll get the plane home. Darkness falls. We unload truck and trailer into a truck going to Belgrade. This truck is going to tow the broken truck to Pale up in the hills 25km away. Gavro will tow the trailer. We eventually get to the truckstop. It is around 10pm. The broken truck is backed in. We push the trailer alongside. Are we going to stay the night? So much is lost in communication between us all because we do not understand each other’s language. Bob’s favourite words are ‘nemar problem’ and then he airs his views when there is one! He is a real laugh at times. Thank goodness I asked someone I can get along with to come with me on this trip. We’re off again. Bob is driving. It’s late at night. I won’t be able to see the mountain road going down. Gavro talks about getting to B.L. tonight but its nearly 400km away. At 12.30 we stop at a police patrol. He tells us to lay up for the night. We park up. Bob and I are fortunate we have sleeping bags and pillow.

Thursday 23rd. As usual I wake early around 5.30 which is around the first signs of dawn. We want to be away at 6am because we want to cross over through the UNPROFOR lines before dark. Gavro wants to make a telephone call to Vienna so that they can call UNPROFOR and let them know we will be wanting to cross later. While he is gone I notice we are parked alongside a cemetery. New graves with flowers, scarves, and pictures of young men in uniform. There are 50/ 60 of them, mainly buried in 1992 and a few in 1993. There is an excavator for more graves. I walk on up among the old graves. Nearly all are dated 1943 – WW2. What a toll to pay for man’s inability to talk, compromise and understand each other. I must always work to relieve the suffering and try never to cause any. I feel strongly that I have been privileged to have a peaceful life and I must share my blessings with others. I just hope that when the time comes to talk in public, I can find the right words to say so that people will understand and help us relieve the suffering we have seen.

The ADRA truck we bought is being well used. It is where it is needed – so I feel it is money well spent. I just hope that the ‘powers that be’ back home can be persuaded of this too. I will do my best with the support of the donors, who I am sure will support the decisions we have made on the spot. 6.30am. We are about to leave. We are passing along narrow roads, past some good villages, past wrecked ones. We come to a lake which must have been a tourist trap in better times. Bob tries to take some pictures as we drive. We stop at an hotel. On the lake side it has a terrace. A few windows on the side have holes in them. We get omelette, bread and jam. I will be driving all today – more practice. I’m feeling better about the truck now. We have to take a very roundabout route passing some towns like Tuzla which are still dangerous areas. Some of the roads are just gravel and the dust is really bad. On our way out in this part we lost our jack when the toolbox door opened.  Bob is keeping his eyes out for it – not much hope though. We come to some areas that have bridges without sides – you just have to hit them square on. Gavro keeps stopping for hitch-hikers and then to deliver a letter. It is getting late now. Banja Luka is still a fair way away and it is 2pm. We are beginning to run low on fuel. All that gear changing had used up a lot. The combi van must be running on fumes only. We keep pulling into garages but they don’t have any. It is DM2 per litre – really expensive. We stop in D. I have to back up 100 yards or so because we passed our turn. It worked OK until I nearly started up again on the left-hand side of the street. We arrived at Banja Luka about 3.30. Gavro is going off to visit his relatives.  I am going to have a shower. I know what heaven is going to be like – just being clean again; no dirty smelly clothes. We will be in Zagreb tonight and a decent bed. A shower in the morning and I will be on my way home. We are supposed to leave at 5pm.

5.45 we’re off. We put about 4 gallons in our tank. Bob said he wanted 25 gallons, but they just laughed at us. I think we will be OK anyway. Bob is now driving again – I have done my hours. 3 miles down the road the Combi starts to play up. It is going slower and puffing smoke. It is no good. It’s going to stop. Maybe the air cleaner is blocked. Gavro gives it a bit of welly – off we go again. It doesn’t help much. He mutters about UNPROFOR. I think we have to be across by 9pm and it is nearly that now. We are going to have to camp up I think. We tow the Combi. The rope breaks, but the Combi appears to have a new lease of life and slowly goes away. It only goes about 30mph but keeps going. Maybe it’s water passing through. We come to the UNPROFOR area. Pass through Serb checkpoint. Soldiers from Nepal greet us. Bob and I want an escort. Gavro doesn’t. The Nepal Captain says it’s ok unless you get a problem. Gavro goes – we follow. But is muttering in his usual questioning style. We are both a bit nervous, I think. It is really lonely out there. Gavro hesitates – do we go left or right? If only we had an escort. We go left onto a very rough road. Yet it’s ok. We are alongside a blown-up bridge. After a few miles we come to a checkpoint. Soon we pass through. One more to go – the Croatian one. Talk. We wait. 1 ½ hours. They tell us to put out our lights just in case of snipers. We wait.

Midnight. We have stopped to fill up with some cheaper fuel. I tell Bob to wait as I have only got a few hundred dinars. I haven’t got enough. We walk to Gavro. Pay the rest in DM. Into Zagreb. Have to help Gavro unload. We want to go to the station and get some sleep. Gavro wants to wake up people in ADRA (2.30am) and give them parcels. Tells us we can sleep there. We say we’ll take the parcels but he insists – we go to the station and sleep in the truck again. Gavro takes the parcels and wakes everyone up. He wants to go back to Vienna tonight. I am going to fly home tomorrow. I am already ten days late and the business is beginning to suffer. Bob will stay on and do another trip with Gavro. I don’t expect he will be back for two weeks. Maybe I will fly out and take the truck in for a third trip and Bob can fly home. We’ll see.

Friday. As usual I wake at 5.30am. Lie and doze, thinking of home. 7pm get up and wander around. Have a cold wash with water from truck. Clean teeth and get prepared to get my ticket home organised. Bob is stirring and together we go off to the ADRA office. We hear Gavro has been stopped at the Croatian border on his way home to Vienna last night. He will have to come back for a piece of paper in his passport. Poor chap – they were hoping to get to Vienna last night.

In the office I see a fax from the Division. Looks like I’m going to have to do some positive talking when I get back. I get a plane ticket. Costs a lot. Have to borrow money – but at least I will be home tonight some time. Manchester – is it too much to ask someone to meet me there? When I get to the airport they tell me my plane also goes to London. Quick telephone call home – it’s ok – Heathrow here I come. Fly down to Pavla on Adriatic Coast. What a contrast. Normality. Life is unfair. We are so fortunate.

I hope to get another load together quickly and maybe go out again. That will depend on the state of my work at home. I didn’t mean to be away for so long. Let’s hope I can pick up the pieces again quickly. Be nice to get ADRA off the ground at St. Park. I am told they got the ADRA store sorted out. It is good to have friends backing you. Friends are so important. A man who has friends has so much. It pays to look after the friends you have.