Charles Sandefur

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA) has experienced explosive growth and massive change in the past two decades, but one abiding principle has remained constant: our unshakable belief that every human can and should be able to achieve their God-given potential to the fullest. One person can make a difference, and they do every day in ADRA's world.

We now live and serve in a very complex world: a world of international politics, profit, and power. A world in which technology often replaces people, and success is measured more by the bottom line than by the number of those who have the dignity of taking home a paycheck. A modern society where computer chat rooms are increasingly replacing community action, and partnerships with the poor are often tainted with self-interest. Nongovernment organizations are not immune to these powerful forces that shape and mold our global culture and sometimes even try to determine the very nature of our mission.

ADRA is an agency that believes in people. It's an agency that still places people at the nonnegotiable center and focus of our mission. Our success is not measured in terms of the amount of food we have delivered or the bricks and mortar we have laid, but rather by the positive and sustainable impact made on individual and community livelihoods as a result of our partnerships with them. There can never be a higher fulfillment than that which ennobles the human spirit and brings dignity and justice to those who live at the social margins of our world.

Last year ADRA celebrated its twentieth anniversary. Reaching the milestone of the twentieth anniversary is accomplished by standing on the many stepping-stones of success made by people in our history. It requires an agency with vision and passion. And it requires a staff with tremendous passion, dedication, and a high level of professionalism.

All great accomplishments come at great expense, too. That's true for ADRA every day. The ADRA family has paid and continues to pay great costs for what we do. But our passion keeps us to the task. Which is why we dedicated our twentieth-anniversary commemoration to those most familiar with those costs: those ADRA staff who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of service. We celebrate their life, grieve their absence, and prayerfully remember those who loved them and courageously live on, despite their absence.

Now ADRA is entering our third decade in the face of many challenges and opportunities. But we press on, believing that when history writes the final epitaph on this world, it will be seen that, under God, it is ultimately people who change the world.

Investing in Potential
Every society has them--the outcast, marginalized, ill, illiterate, poor, and hungry. Their state in life results from poverty or lack of opportunity, from being displaced by war, or from being considered an inferior ethnic group or gender. Or more sadly, from our fear or apathy. They're often summarized in statistics that overwhelm us: 37.8 million people are living with HIV and AIDS.
1 One billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition,2 and 1.2 billion people earn less than $1 per day.3

The magnitude of these statistics can cast a haze over the faces that each number represents. They can also weaken the belief that the flame of hope has not been snuffed out, that a promising future, while latent, is still achievable.

Despite the statistics or the stigma, the hands of ADRA reach into this world every day. We stoop to raise the downtrodden and stand shoulder to shoulder with millions of men, women, and children until their hope is reborn and their dreams are realized.

Recognizing the dignity that is inherent in every human being, ADRA is committed to improving the quality of human life by unleashing possibilities, building capacity, unveiling dignity, and nurturing the promise we see in each life.

Simply put, ADRA is investing in potential. We say "investing" because it involves allocating energy, time, and resources in something we believe to be of value. We see investing as a commitment that we're in it for the long haul.

Last year we celebrated 20 years of Changing the World, One Life at a Time. We celebrate this milestone with grateful recognition for our donors who also have invested in the promise and value in the lives ADRA expends itself to reach and empower.

If you have been with us during this 20-year journey, we thank you for strengthening us. If you are new to ADRA's work, we invite your partnership in our continued work . . . investing in potential.

ADRA's Five Core Portfolios
Through five core portfolios, ADRA is investing in potential of millions of men, women, and children worldwide each year.

  • Food Security

  • A father longs to feed his family. A mother spends her day searching for food for her children. A hungry family survived a disaster with just the clothes on their back. In emergencies, ADRA brings immediate food aid until a family can return home or meet their own needs. For long-term solutions, ADRA trains farmers in new techniques and puts seeds and tools in their eager hands, enabling them to meet the nutritional needs of their family.

  • Primary Health

  • Knowledge is power, and ADRA is devoted to empowering people to make healthy lifestyle decisions to reduce the risk of HIV and AIDS. ADRA expends itself to teach the importance of immunizations, breast-feeding, proper hygiene, and sanitation, and promotes a tobacco-free lifestyle so individuals can have healthy futures.

  • Economic Development

  • Just a small investment by ADRA to create a community bank that provides microcredit to women is often all it takes to unleash the dreams of many women and their families. Along with a small loan, ADRA provides business skills, literacy, and numeracy training so women can start or expand businesses that enable them to provide for the needs of their family.

  • Disaster Preparedness and Response

  • Many times they've lost everything they own. They're displaced--no home, no food, no clothing. They're courageous survivors of war, hurricanes, droughts, or other disasters. ADRA quickly responds, providing medical aid, shelter, food, and clothing. ADRA also seeks to protect the fragile futures of communities by having disaster preparedness plans in place to minimize the effects if a disaster should strike.

  • Basic Education

  • Recognizing that education is the key to breaking the poverty cycle, ADRA has launched education initiatives for children, vocational training for orphans and other vulnerable children, and literacy training for adults denied an education in their youth. These programs unlock a world of opportunity, a future with hope for
    1 UNAIDS, 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, July 2004. (Figures are 2003 estimates.)
    3 Human Development Report 2003, Millennium Development Goals: A compact among nations to end human poverty, United Nations Development Programme,

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