ADRA-UK reflects on 2019 and looks forward to 2020.
Written by: Bert Smit, CEO
All for one, one for all There’s no way we’ll reach our greatest heights Unless we heed the call Me for you, you for me There’s no chance of world salvation ’less the conversation’s peace. (‘Conversation Peace’ – Stevie Wonder, 1995)
As I sit and write this article, NATO leaders are meeting in a luxury hotel here in Watford, less than 2 miles from our office. One of the key items on their agenda is the use of defence spending to secure world peace. It should be clear to us that a roomful of politicians, however gifted, cannot achieve this. Indeed, we know that some left the summit clearly disgruntled about the outcomes of the three-day meetings. Peace is sometimes defined as the freedom from disturbance, or the freedom from the interruption of a settled condition or state of mind. Millions of people in the world today are living in poverty, suffering from exploitation, and experiencing gross inequalities: they are not living in peace. These are the people with whom ADRA has been working in 2019, both in the UK and overseas, and will continue to assist in 2020.
Impact 2019: ADRA-UK continued to have a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable communities around the world. The results of our work directly impacted 1.2 million people. We responded to urgent needs on the ground in humanitarian emergencies in 11 countries, while our long-term development programmes continued in Ghana, Zambia, Eswatini (Swaziland), Rwanda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand. Our strategy prioritises the most vulnerable communities and groups, with a major focus on the needs of women and girls, in conflict-affected and fragile states.
Sectors we worked in: Projects are categorised under the following thematic sectors such as: education, health and livelihoods. We often work across sectors in an integrated way in order to achieve wellbeing more comprehensively for the communities and groups that we support. For example, education programmes also include aspects of livelihoods for households, ensuring that limited household income does not create a barrier for children to attend school. Aspects of household resilience, such as agriculture, can also be a part of health projects.
Impact 2020: ADRA-UK will continue to respond to humanitarian emergencies when they occur, as well as implementing ongoing, long-term development projects in an integrated way to maximise impact. In South Sudan we will expand our education programme, providing improved access to quality education for over 68,000 girls and boys.
Impact 2019: Under the Urban Ministries initiative, which was launched at the end of 2018, we sought to support local community outreach and social justice projects with Seventh-day Adventist congregations throughout the UK, and this continued throughout 2019. Between 2018 and 2019 we have provided over 70 grants to churches for their projects through our 10% reversion scheme. We also provided support and direct funding for three homeless shelters, in addition to partnering with other charitable organisations, and we have graduated 35 individuals through our Community Services and Urban Ministries certification programme.
Sectors we worked in: Projects are categorised under the following thematic sectors such as education, health, gender equality, reduced inequalities and livelihoods. We have worked with Mind (Tower Hamlets and Newham) on our PEDAL FORWARD: build a life, build a bike project. We have also supported the work of knife crime prevention with the Holloway and Willesden churches, and we have partnered with the Adventist Community Services to launch the BUC Urban Garden, and developed the ‘Beyond’ concept for several educational initiatives in partnership with local churches and community groups.
Impact 2020: Under this initiative, ADRA UK will continue to build its networks in the UK, encourage greater involvement of teens and young adults, and utilise new and emerging technologies to encourage wider participation in its projects.
By the time you read this article, the UK will have had a general election and will still be in the throes of our Brexit negotiations with Europe. The tumultuous time we have had over the past few years in the United Kingdom has divided families, spawned greater xenophobia and created feelings of disquiet in our homes and streets. The rise of knife crime on our streets has rocketed. It is estimated that around 14 million people in the UK live in poverty. The challenge of climate change impact is a seriously pressing matter.
As a pastor and church leader, I affirm and reaffirm my belief in the soon return of Jesus Christ, and I am looking forward to that day with anticipation and expectation. And while I wait, I believe that we as His followers are called to bring an active message of peace to the suffering people of the world. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ In 2019, ADRA-UK worked to bring the ‘conversation peace’ to the table through International Development and Urban Outreach.