ADRA Sweden exists in order to help people in low-income countries to get a better life. So it is a joy for us to look back at 25 years of service to the poor and vulnerable,” said Siri Bjerkan-Karlsson, country director for ADRA Sweden, when ADRA Sweden celebrated 25 years of service at the end of August 2010.
The Swedish Union Conference became involved in development work 40 years ago, when the union received the first funds from the Swedish government to be used for development work in low-income countries. When the General Conference organized ADRA in 1984, ADRA Sweden became one of the first country offices to join the network.
Since its beginning in 1985, ADRA Sweden has supported 900 development projects and humanitarian interventions for a total value of almost US$60 million in a total of 80 different low-income countries. Every year between 500,000 and 3 million people have been touched by ADRA Sweden’s work and have been given support to create a better life for themselves. ADRA Sweden has also sent out 307 volunteers who have worked in different low-income countries for shorter or longer periods.
Today ADRA Sweden is implementing a total of 35 development projects in 17 different countries. One of the largest projects is aimed at helping people living with HIV and AIDS. This project is being implemented in seven different African countries and involves 450,000 direct beneficiaries. They are provided counsel and psychosocial support so that they can live as well and as healthfully as possible. The project has been ongoing for five years and has rescued hundreds of thousands of people from a premature death.
In Uganda, ADRA Sweden supports a 10-year program aimed at combating poverty in four rural districts. The program involves more than 37,000 people who are being taught to read and write and trained in income-generating activities. They are also trained in how to gain access to support from the local government and how to cooperate in order to improve their life situations.
Every year ADRA Sweden transfers between US$2 and US$2.5 million to various development projects. Most of the money comes from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, or SIDA, the government agency that provides funds for nongovernment organizations working with development. The money is channeled to ADRA Sweden via the Swedish Mission Council, which is one of the frame organizations SIDA cooperates with. ADRA Sweden is one of the 36 member organizations that together form the Swedish Mission Council.
ADRA Sweden celebrated its 25-year jubilee during the weekend of August 27 to 29. Some 400 people came from all parts of Sweden to take part in the celebrations. Charles Sandefur, leader for ADRA International; Stephen Cooper, leader for ADRA Trans-Europe; and representatives from 15 different ADRA offices were present. The celebrations included presentations about the biblical basis for ADRA’s existence and work, seminars on development and ingathering, and presentations from ADRA Sweden’s partners in Sweden and abroad.
The weekend actually contained a double celebration, since the Swedish Harvest Ingathering campaign celebrated its 90-year jubilee at the same time. The first Ingathering campaign was held in 1920. This makes it one of the oldest fund-raising campaigns in Sweden.