The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in El Salvador inaugurated its new headquarters during a special ceremony held in San Juan Opico, in the Libertad Department on Aug. 6, 2023. Dozens of church leaders, government officials, church members and students from ADRA’s literacy program gathered to witness a 22-year-old dream come true.
Nestled on the campus of the Adventist Training School operated by the church, the two-story building will allow more space for staff, volunteer training, workshops and special training events for the community, church leaders said.“I have extraordinary joy in my heart today,” said Pastor Elie Henry, president of the Inter-American Division. “To see that this new ADRA building follows the great work done by so many people involved in acts of kindness, preaching, educating, and serving the community.” Exactly the method that Jesus taught while on earth, said Pastor Henry, as he congratulated the church for its visionary leadership in the Central American country.
A center of operations
The new facility will not only serve as a center of operations for the activities for ADRA El Salvador, but will strengthen the image before civil and government authorities, said David Poloche, ADRA Inter-America director. “Consolidating operations and coordinating efforts in one place will bring stability and effectiveness to the organization’s work,” he said. “This new building represents a step forward in transforming ADRA from a central entity focused on emergency relief to a driving force of community development and improvement of the quality of life.”The ADRA building consists of nine offices, two meeting rooms, a conference/training room for up to 70 persons, a reception area on each floor, a storage room, an employee’s kitchen, five restrooms, and a one-bedroom apartment.
“We praise God and thank the many persons who have helped make this ADRA office a reality,” said Pastor Abel Pacheco, president of the church in El Salvador. “For us, ADRA is not a building, but ADRA is us, persons who assist the community, as an Adventist Church we support each other and collaborate on projects or when emergencies occur.” ADRA, for many who are beneficiaries, is a macro tunnel in agriculture, or a teacher who teaches them to read and write, he added. “By God’s grace we will continue to serve and support those most in need.”For many years since ADRA El Salvador was officially established in 2001, operations were run from different rented facilities in San Salvador, the capital city, 30 minutes away from where the new building now stands. “ADRA’s location is stationed in a very good location, free from the traffic and in a central route where it connects to the different extremes in the country without going through the capital city,” said Pacheco. It became difficult to purchase a location in the city, he explained, so the property owned by the church’s training school proved to be more beneficial, he added.
Growing literacy and social assistance projects
Deputy official to the Central American Parliament Frank Menjiver praised the work of ADRA in collaboration with the government and mayoral offices in communities, like literacy and social assistance projects.“It’s important to be able to rely on ADRA as a formal organization and that makes it easier for the government to work in an articulated way to aid needs in the country,” said Menjiver. “With ADRA, we have been able to reach communities and people with literacy programs that go hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Education, such as providing wheelchairs and walkers in support of the health ministry or the national rehabilitation institute,” he said. “For us,” said Menjiver, “this is fundamental and key in identifying needs in small settlements. Just knowing that ADRA is not only present here but all around the world gives us more confidence.”
ADRA El Salvador is committed to continuing to help people better their lives, said Alex Figueroa, ADRA El Salvador director. “El Salvador has historically been an underdeveloped country due to different social problems and there are needs in education, literacy, among others,” explained Figueroa.“We are very clear that ADRA is a humanitarian aid organization that to be able to reach more it needs to make pertinent alliances and links with friends and corresponding institutions to assist in the best way,” said Figueroa.
ADRA’s new location has more than 150 trained volunteers that teach in the literacy program to adults and the elderly, said Figueroa. Every year, more than 1,000 persons go through the literacy program, he added.Maria Celia Santos, a retired teacher, is among the dozens of volunteers who spend time every week to be a facilitator or teacher in the literacy course that ADRA oversees. She was excited to be part of the inauguration ceremony of the new ADRA office and continues volunteering with the agency. “I am so happy to be part of ADRA and this project,” said Santos. “It’s something that I plan to continue until God calls me to rest. Every person I teach to read and write I feel blessed. It brings me life.”
ADRA El Salvador is also involved in entrepreneurship programs such as growing vegetable gardens, family poultry farms, as well as programs to assist single mothers and their young children, and more, reported Figueroa.
“We continue to ask God to help us to make ADRA an emblematic institution to help others,” Figueroa said.ADRA El Salvador is part of the global network of ADRA International that delivers relief and development to individuals in more than 130 countries. ADRA works with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive change through empowering partnerships and responsible actions.