An elderly woman receives a bag of food from an ADRA volunteer during an assistance provided to more than 300 families in several municipal towns that were affected by block roads as a result of protests in the northern regions in the country since early in March this year.[Photo: ADRA Colombia]

April 18, 2023 | Medellín, Colombia | Daniela Arrieta and Inter-American Division News

Responding to the social emergency resulting from recent road closures in Bajo Cauca, Antioquia, in northern Colombia, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Colombia, partnering with the West Central Colombian Conference, delivered food to assist high-risk populations affected.

“Both organizations, ADRA Colombia and its regional branch, were in charge of delivering the food,” said Jair Flórez Guzmán, ADRA Colombia director. “We thanked God for the communities that contributed to collect the food delivered in this difficult time.”

ADRA has assisted around 300 families with essential food items such as rice, beans, and oil in the northern municipal towns of Zaragoza, Caucasia, El Bagre, and Segovia, leaders said. It was a difficult delivery due to safety challenges in the area.  Miners had been protesting to improve labor conditions which resulted in roadblocks that affected thousands in two provinces from getting food, medicine and fuel, media outlets reported.

A person smiles as she receives a food bag from an ADRA Colombia volunteer last month. [Photo: ADRA Colombia]

Still, ADRA managed to overcome the hurdles to reach hundreds of beneficiaries. “When the roads were closed, we sent money and food through a driver escorted by the police and the army,” said Roger González, ADRA coordinator at the West Central Colombia Conference. “We surveyed the population to find out families facing food shortages, and then chose those most affected,” he explained.

At the same time, González highlighted the support of the Adventist community in Medellín, who moved to assist the population of Bajo Cauca. “We shared about the situation of our brothers and sisters with our Medellin members,” González said, “and they provided money and food. It was such a great blessing that everyone came together,” he said.

Noting how important it is to be ready for emergencies, ADRA has begun working on a project called Plan José, which seeks to have food reserves in each of the churches, following the guidelines of emergency agencies. The idea is that, when difficulties arise, the congregations themselves can contribute to support assistance initiatives, leaders said.

Families assisted said they were thankful for the support received, explained Guzmán. “The food delivery initiative was a blessing for them and allowed them to have a respite amid the ordeal they are going through.”

Church member volunteers sort out food items to distribute to towns affected by blocked roads recently in northern Colombia. [Photo: ADRA Colombia]

A program for a better quality of life

Initiatives of providing food security to vulnerable families are making a concrete difference in the lives of those who most need it, ADRA Colombia leaders said.

“I used to want my children to wake up late so I could save a meal,” said Betzabeth Barragán, a mother of three in Medellín who works recycling trash to support her family. Despite her hard work, Barragán struggles to access adequate food.

Despite her dire need, Barragán carries her work out with dedication and commitment. One of the biggest thrills, she says, is when she finds discarded clothes. “When my children see me arrive back home, the first thing they tell me is, ‘Mom, what did you bring me?’ And if I take out clothes, they get excited because, for them, they are new,” she said.

One day, while working, she received a call from ADRA Colombia. She was informed that she and her family were scheduled to receive food assistance. “I felt very excited, even though I was not sure who was behind the call,” she said.

ADRA volunteers hold together the assembled food bags to be distributed in communities affected by blocked roads. Photo: ADRA Colombia]

Barragán said she had a hard time to understand that someone could care about her situation and give her a helping hand amid her need. From that moment on, everything changed.

Thanks to the help Barragán received, her family stopped going to bed hungry. And ADRA’s help did not stop with food. Barragán shared how her children had appointments scheduled with nutritionists. ADRA also provided medical assistance to her whole family, improving their access to health care.

Year-long ADRA initiative

This ADRA initiative is part of the agency’s SASVEN Program, which from April 2022-March 2023, has benefited more than 24,000 people in Colombia. According to ADRA figures, 12,715 people have received food assistance in the form of prepared meals in Bucaramanga, while 7,252 people have benefited in migratory corridors in Santander, with medical attention in first response. At the same time, 10,820 beneficiaries have been treated in general medical consultations.

Betzabeth Barragán a beneficiary of ADRA Colombia’s SASVEN initiative plays with two of her children in Medellín, Colombia. ADRA has been assisting thousands of families from Colombia and Venezuela at several northern cities with food bags, meals and free medical care for months.  [Photo: ADRA Colombia]

The SASVEN program has proven to be an effective tool to improve the quality of life of Venezuelan and Colombian migrant families, regional leaders said. ADRA’s dedication and commitment to its work has changed reality for many families like Barragan’s, giving them hope and a healthier future.

“If there’s one thing I must thank ADRA for is that it put an end to a situation where my children and I had nothing to eat”, she said. “ADRA is for me the security I never had, the hope I thought I had lost, and for my children and me, the love that we needed.”

To learn more about initiatives and projects led by ADRA Colombia, visit adracolombia.org

Top news

Are Angels Real?
Grateful Family Donates US$1 Million to Adventist Hospital in the U.S.
Cancer Nutritionist Partners with Patients to Enhance Nutrition