Category Archives: Disaster Relief

Tent Distributions in Nepal

Shelter Distribution Begins in Nepal

Response to the earthquake in Nepal continues as ADRA begins to distribute much needed shelter to affected families in Dhading and Kavre districts.

Rainfall has already begun in Kathmandu and other affected areas. Meteorologists have predicted rainfall for the next 10 days, creating difficulty and discomfort for those still forced to sleep outside.

“We are working on responding as quickly as possible,” said Robert Patton, ADRA’s emergency response coordinator. “Trying to help protect these families and those who are most vulnerable—children, the elderly, the disabled—from the elements is one of our top priorities.”

Already, ADRA has distributed 1,710 tarps—1,360 in Kavre, where homes have been completely flattened, 345 in Dhading and five in Lalitpur.

Mai Ogawa, a program manager at ADRA Nepal visited Dhading district yesterday in anticipation of another distribution there in coming days.

“I felt helpless when I learned that it takes seven days to walk to the most affected areas. Helicopters have been prioritized for referring injured people and thousands are sleeping in open farming areas with what little they have left,” she explained. “Transportation is our biggest challenge right now.”

How to help

Aid agencies are asking that those who want to help the people of Nepal give cash donations.

“Cash donations enable organizations to respond to urgent needs as they change, which happens frequently in early stages of response,” said Thierry Van Bignoot, ADRA’s Director for Emergency Management. “They are the most efficient and allow us to purchase good locally, ensuring that everything we get is culturally and environmentally appropriate.”
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Massive 7.8 Earthquake Devastates Nepal

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake has devastated much of Nepal, leaving thousands dead, injured, and missing.

Search and rescue teams have yet to reach remote and rural regions and with strong aftershocks still shaking the country, more destruction is anticipated, with a likely increase in the death toll.

The need in Nepal is strong and very urgent: 

  • • The ADRA Nepal office and staff escaped harm allowing them to immediately begin the relief efforts.
  • The death toll is more than 4,000 and rising quickly.
  • More than 7,000 people are reported injured with hospitals struggling to meet the need.
  • 35 of the 75 districts within Nepal have been affected with damage and casualties also reported in neighboring countries.
  • Reports indicate up to70% of homes and villages are damaged or destroyed in nearby rural areas.
  • Thousands are sleeping outside in freezing temperatures either because their homes have been destroyed or they fear falling debris from ongoing aftershocks.

ADRA Nepal is already responding with plastic sheeting for temporary shelter, and relief supplies from the ADRA network are already en route. An additional ten ADRA Emergency Response Team members from several countries are on their way to Nepal to assist the local office with coordination and continued relief efforts.

The current response is focusing on shelter while looking ahead to additional assistance in food, water, and health care to prevent the spread of disease in the wake of the disaster.
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A cramped street in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Pray for Victims of Earthquake in Nepal

ADRA Emergency Director: “Pray for Victims of Earthquake in Nepal”

Updated on April 25 at 3:44 p.m.

KATHMANDU, NEPAL— A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal about 50 miles from its capital, Kathmandu, on Saturday, leveling buildings and killing hundreds. News sources are reporting 1,400 deaths so far, with the death toll rising.

The earthquake hit around midday local time, flattening buildings while locals and tourists scrambled to get outside into open spaces. Tremors have been felt as far from the epicenter as New Delhi.

“First reports suggest that the destruction is widespread and devastating,” said Thierry Van Bignoot, ADRA’s Director for Emergency Management. “At this time, we ask for your prayers for the people of Nepal and for our team on the ground. We are in the process of finding out more about what’s happened there.”

All ADRA staff has been accounted for and are safe.

“I praise God that the ADRA staff is all safe, however, they need our prayers, as do the people of Nepal at this sad time,” said Robert Patton, ADRA’s Emergency Management Advisor in an email communication today. “At this time we know that up to 80 percent of houses closest to the epicenter of the earthquake are damaged or destroyed.”

More information to come as the story develops.

About ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency International is the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. For more information, visit

ADRA’s Ebola Response Continues

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was unprecedented in its scale, with 25,600 reported cases and 10,600 deaths. Along with the health threat, Ebola also disrupted farming, economic activity, school systems, and even social customs, leaving very few not affected.

ADRA’s Ebola response in Liberia and Sierra Leone is focused on three main areas:

Awareness and Prevention

  • ADRA Liberia’s community health campaigns, including media and handouts, have educated more than 32,000 people on how to protect themselves and their families.
  • More than 335 soap and chlorine hand-washing stations were established in schools, community centers, public areas, and other strategic locations.
  • ADRA Sierra Leone’s decontamination center have disinfected more than 2,600 households and replaced contaminated mattresses, bedding, and mosquito nets.

Clinical Response

  • ADRA sent 7 shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to protect staff and community around Cooper Adventist Hospital in Liberia.

 Community Support

  • More than 140,000 people received emergency food supplies after their crops and income were cut off by the Ebola crisis.
  • In Liberia, ADRA has distributed more than 800 survivor kits with mattresses, bedding, food, soap, and basic household items.

Around 285,000 school meals are being provided to students who have returned to school.

Vital Needs Met in Vanuatu

PORT VILA, VANUATU— ADRA Vanuatu continues to support the response to Tropical Cyclone Pam by providing local communities in need with safety, food, and access to water.

On Friday, 130 water filtration kits were distributed to four locations in the northeast area of Efate, the main island of Vanuatu. The filtration kits convert contaminated water into clean drinking water and have been set up in schools and churches within the communities.

Six ADRA-supported evacuation centers were set-up with generators to increase the safety and security for the women and children, and to charge devices to assist with communication.

Since Saturday, ADRA Vanuatu volunteers have distributed 320 much needed supplementary food parcels, enough to sustain a family of five people for up to two weeks, to displaced people in the ADRA-supported evacuation centers.

Currently there are nine ADRA-supported evacuation centers across the island of Efate, supporting and providing more than 1,000 displaced people with shelter. ADRA Vanuatu Country Director, Mark le Roux, is grateful to all the volunteers, and the effective coordination with our partners who are helping ADRA with the response.

“Our volunteers are working hard to make sure the distribution of the food parcels happens quickly to those who need them most,” said le Roux. “To effectively respond to the needs of the people, we rely on strong partnerships; with our local community, our volunteers, across all the agencies involved, and coordinated through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO)”.

“Coordination and cooperation is essential to ensure long-term, future planning for the people of Vanuatu,” he said.

At this point, all ADRA staff that had been missing has been accounted for.

Stronger than the Storm

Stronger than the Storm: Behind the Scenes with Sanjay



The man and his boy are bowed over the side of the boat, their faces dark in the shadow of the setting sun.  Cast against the light fading behind ageless mountains, they seem to flow formlessly with the sea, and, but for the flash of nimble fingers and woven nets, they are specters on the water.  The world is a wheel of dissolving colors in that encroaching night, and through it all the fingers dance and dart and cut through the shadows.

The man stands, his muscles straining.  The boy bends and grasps something below the surface, then lifts the hand-woven trap from the water and stands alongside his father.  Together they examine the crab clacking through the mesh.  There is a murmur of dialogue and then silence, as they bow over the side of the boat again.

I observe them from my boat until they have finished for the night, and in tandem we return toward shore.


Not long ago, this same man watched helplessly as his family began to starve. The sea that had once given Cesar the means to send his children to school had taken everything away from him, including his ability to feed his wife and kids.  With no food and no income, Cesar had no hope.

For people in the Philippines, the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan is measured not only in lives, but also in livelihoods.  When the unprecedented storm finally retreated into the ocean, thousands of boats lay in splinters along the coastline, leaving thousands of families with no source of income or sustenance.  In a country where life depends on the haul of one’s boat, the chaos was unprecedented.

The storm didn’t just take Cesar’s boat—it took most of his roof, too.  He thanks God it didn’t take any of his family, though that alone is a miracle.  When he showed me the damage to his house, I was amazed that there were no fatalities.  During the storm, the family fled to a downstairs corner in the kitchen, huddling together against the wall while the winds tore the roof piece by piece, leaving a gaping hole in its wake.  Had any member of his large family been caught upstairs, they would never have come down alive.

Fifteen months later and the roof is still a gaping hole.  When it rains, which it often does, Cesar and his family maneuver tarps and sheets and hope they hold, which they often don’t.  Over time, they have grown accustomed to the inconvenience. For Cesar, it is simply that—an inconvenience.  Compared to the agony of helplessness when he was unable to fish and feed his family, a roofless house is a small problem.

In the wake of Typhon Haiyan, ADRA got busy restoring order.  As soon as the immediate needs for food and clean water were met, they began repairing boats and nets and livelihoods.  They also offered a cash for work program where fishermen could earn money in exchange for making crab traps, which they then got to keep.  Watching them weave these crab traps was like watching a farmer planting seeds in a field.  These traps are the seeds of their future harvest, and a bastion against hunger and extreme poverty.

Crab Net

Now that he has a boat again, and new nets and crab traps, Cesar is confident that he will soon be able to fix his house.  For him, like so many others who depend on the sea for survival, it is all about the boat.  Just by owning this simple wooden vessel, Cesar has the means to feed his entire family, while earning money.  And though there may be a hole in his house, Cesar has a boat.  And that is the hope he needed.

Winterization Assistance in Syria

ADRA’s Winterization Assistance program provides Syrian internally displaced persons (IDPs) with winter clothes and blankets to stay warm during the brutal Syrian winter.

Rita is an elderly woman who never imagined having to leave her home behind at this stage in life. But when violence and unrest in Syria threatened the safety of her and her family, there was no choice.

Rita fled her home with her remaining family members and was unable to take anything with her. “I left my home high and dry,” she says. “I am empty-handed. The only son I was dependent on was killed.

Home for Rita is now a school, where she shares a classroom with her grandchildren and several other families. The room offers no privacy and very little protection, and the family struggles through the long winter nights.

“There are no doors or windows in this school, and the cold weather gives me frostbite each night,” Rita shares. “There is only one blanket, and at night my grandchildren and I sometimes warm ourselves by hugging and crying. We left our homes with no clothes and with no hope, and here we are.”

ADRA Syria provided Rita and her family with four blankets and warm winter clothes for seven people, including the children. She can now stay warm at night and take comfort in the warmth of her grandchildren.

Seeds of Hope

Seeds of Hope: Behind the Scenes with Sanjay

There is a moment during every sunset when the world is drained of all ugliness and pain and only colors remain.  In that ephemeral space of light and shadow, the world is beautiful.

Then the colors fade, the shadows lengthen, and the moment is gone.

In Adjumani District in northern Uganda, the contrast between pain and beauty is especially poignant.  The horizon absorbs the blood red sun in a stirring panorama of primal splendor and the evening sky becomes a vast, cosmic easel.

And under it all there is profound loss and suffering.

When violence erupted in South Sudan, a mass exodus ensued.  Hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom were women and children, fled only with what they could carry.  In most cases, there was no time to carry anything more than an infant child or a handful of food and clothes.  When these refugees reached Adjumani, the northernmost asylum in Uganda, they were homeless and destitute.

When I arrived in Adjumani, I thought I was prepared to confront the horrific results of war.  I was wrong.  For example, nothing in my privileged life could have prepared me for the moment Emanuel, a teenage orphan of the conflict in South Sudan, welcomed me into his small hut.  It wasn’t the lack of material goods that struck me, but the lack of people.  He was truly and utterly on his own.  All the sadness and hunger, homesickness and boredom, despair and apathy—these were his to bear alone.

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The film crew and I walk with Emanuel (in red) and his friend on our way to his hut.

Photographs and films often accurately portray the scope and magnitude of conflict, but nothing makes the individual trauma of violence as clear as interacting with an orphaned survivor in their own, solitary home.  The bare walls, dusty bed, and threadbare blanket speak of loss louder than any film ever can.

Tragically, Emanuel is not unique in this loss.  Everywhere there are similar stories of children struggling for survival, too often by themselves.

And so it was all the more shocking when, a few days later, the ADRA film crew and I found throngs of happy children parading the streets.  They wore bright colors and formed military formations and broke into song and dance on a whim.  The joyful chaos was comprised in equal parts of local children and refugee children, and they mingled like schoolmates on a playground.  In fact, thanks to the generosity of Ugandans, many of them actually are schoolmates.

UGANDA 14-0318

Local school children celebrate Ugandan Independence Day.

“It’s Independence day!” someone shouted at us.

And with that we were carried away in the tide of laughter and energy. Giddy hands grasped my own and I was swallowed by the voracious dance.  Drums echoed across the camp and beat in tandem with my heart, and I felt that suffering is not absolute when there is still hope.  I recalled something Emanuel had said the day before: “People may forget about us, but God will never forget.  In God, there is hope.”

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School children prepare to march into town for Ugandan Independece Day celebrations.

And though there is pain here, and the ugly reality of broken homes, abandoned children and poverty, there is beauty, too. Not just the temporal kind that is painted across the sky every evening, but the kind that lives in the spirit, that is born of hope, that passes from parent to child and seeps into the fabric of the community, into the fabric of the world.

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The crew and I film and learn more about the South Sudanese refugee families in Uganda.

Support for Refugees From South Sudan

ADRA works hard to provide refugees with items essential to survival. Whether it is through water and food in drought-prone regions or blankets and tarps in rainy ones, ADRA is there to bring relief.

At the age of 10, James went to school for the first time. He was ecstatic. He had no idea that in less than three months he would be fleeing for his life from his home in South Sudan, across the border to Uganda.

In January of 2014, tribal war erupted in his volatile home state of Jonglei. Undeterred and unwilling to abandon his education, James continued going to school.

When the conflict reached his village, his walk along the heavily patrolled roads was no longer safe, and his schooling abruptly came to an end. A few days later, his father left to join the fighting. He never returned.

James’ mother was a woman alone with three children, so she was vulnerable to those who would take advantage of her. Soon after the disappearance of James’ father, a gang of young soldiers broke into his house and shot his mother through the pelvis. She screamed for the children to run, and in the confusion, James lost sight of his 12-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister.

He ran into the jungle beyond his house and continued south toward safety, toward the border of Uganda nearly 200 miles away.

At the border, many days later, a truck stopped for the ragged and thin child stumbling down the road. The driver took him to Boroli, a new refugee resettlement area in the town of Adjumani in Northern Uganda. There James was identified as a child fleeing conflict in South Sudan and one of 12,708 boys between the ages of 5 and 11, the camp’s largest demographic.

As James began wandering alone through the camp of more than 90,000 people, he heard someone yell his name. He turned to find his older brother running toward him, arms outstretched. He too had escaped the house, though neither knew what became of their mother and sister. Reunited, the brothers found a place to sleep beneath the branches of a tree.

The same week that James arrived, ADRA began working in the new camp. With the rainy season fast approaching, ADRA distributed vital supplies to help the refugees survive the long, wet months ahead. James and his brother were among thousands of homeless refugees who received sleeping mats, blankets, and tarps. Hours later, the heavy rains began.

After days of wandering alone through the jungle, James and his brother had a safe and dry place to sleep together.

Rebuilding Livelihoods After Typhoon Haiyan

After Typhoon Haiyan, ADRA provided boat repair materials to close to 600 fishermen so that they could get back to work and recover their livelihood.

Danilo is a fisherman from Panay Island in the Philippines. Growing up impoverished, he had no chance to get an education and began fishing for a living at 12 years old.

Fishing is the only livelihood he’s known, so he was devastated when Typhoon Haiyan destroyed his boat as it swept through the Philippines in 2013.

With his background and limited resources, Danilo has experienced many difficulties, and he does not want his children to share what he went through. His belief is that a person who doesn’t finish school needs to work extra hard to take care of his family.

“With 38 years in the fishing industry, I have been able to send my four children to school,” said Danilo. “Two of them have already earned their college degrees.”

It’s this determination that wouldn’t let him give up as he saw his boat, his entire source of support for his family, broken into pieces. It was incredibly hard to pay for his children’s education without an income coming in. Hundreds of other fishermen suffered the same fate.

ADRA introduced a Boat Repair Assistance Grant (BRAG) program to help Danilo and 562 other fishermen rebuild their livelihoods by providing repair materials to reconstruct their damaged fishing boats, nets, and other necessary equipment.

“ADRA has empowered fishermen like me by bring­ing back our livelihoods so we can feed our families and send our children to school. I am very happy and excited that ADRA provided boat repair materials,” said Danilo.

Danilo is already using his repaired boat and now earns 450 pesos ($10) a day. This is close to his pre-typhoon daily earnings of 500 pesos ($11) and much more than the 200 pesos ($4.50) a day he struggled to sup­port his family with in the three months following Haiyan.