News Release: ADRA Works With Churches in the Netherlands to Feed the Community During Pandemic

(NETHERLANDS) In the Netherlands, where more than 6,000 people have died from the coronavirus according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) partnered with Seventh-day Adventist churches and other charitable organizations to feed hundreds of families affected by the pandemic.

ADRA staff member Esther Schutgens-Kok (right) and her sister-in-law, Ana Schutgens,  help distribute food packages in Roermond, Netherlands. (Photo courtesy ADRA in the Netherlands)

The Netherlands is seeing a second spike in COVID-19 cases after experiencing an alarming surge in illnesses and deaths, reported by Worldometer’s COVID-19 data. Experts within the region say that the initial lockdown and its aftermath have ravaged the Dutch economy, with unemployment expected to rise above seven percent by 2021, while hundreds of thousands of people are put out of work.

 In response to this crisis, ADRA coordinated with Adventist churches and other organizations to meet the basic needs of people who were struggling financially. ADRA staff worked alongside volunteers to purchase and distribute groceries, hygiene items, and baby supplies to families in need.

“At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, ADRA made funds available to help individuals and families who were hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown worldwide. We seized this opportunity with both hands,” reports Stella Bemah, project manager for ADRA in the Netherlands.

Ghanaian Church Rallies to Assist Immigrants

In Amsterdam, the Ghanaian Adventist Church, a close-knit congregation of about 250 members, quickly realized that many Ghanaian immigrants were experiencing severe hardship.

“This group of migrants usually works in food service,” says Bemah, a member of the congregation. “When the restaurants had to be closed during the lockdown, many found themselves without a job.”

The Ghanaian congregation appointed four people to investigate the problem and set up a COVID-19 welfare committee. Each month the church set aside money from its offering collection to help families from the church and community who were in the greatest need. Cash gifts enabled those who had lost their jobs to pay their rent and other bills and to purchase necessities.

“The food packages from ADRA were a welcome addition to our program,” says Bemah. “We bought rice, oil, canned vegetables and other staples. In the first week, we distributed food parcels to more than 50 people; in the last week, almost 100 people benefitted. Seventy-five percent of the people who received food parcels were not church members.”

Help at Just the Right Time

Members of the Spijkenisse Adventist Church in Hoogvliet also saw the need in their community and mobilized to help. Every Sabbath (Saturday), the members brought food to the church. After combining these donations with ADRA’s contribution, they delivered nearly 80 food packages to Villa Vonk, a community center located in one of the poorest districts of Hoogvliet. Thanks to the collaboration between ADRA and the local church, refugees and low-income families were able to put food on their tables.

ADRA supported similar food basket projects conducted by the Speranza Adventist Church in Lelystad; X-Preszo Ministries, an Adventist congregation in Rotterdam; and Stichting Samen Zorgen Roermond, a volunteer organization in Roermond. In total, nearly 1,000 families received food packages.

“During the pandemic we have been busier than ever,” says Bemah. “It is tiring and at the same time incredibly motivating. I have seen with my own eyes the smiles on people’s faces as they receive the food that they so desperately needed. That is where I get my energy.”

For Bemah, it is humbling to see how ADRA’s aid has providentially fulfilled people’s hidden needs. “We have no idea what goes on behind closed doors,” she says. “But we have a father in heaven who knows all and uses us to offer help at the right time.”

The food distribution projects in the Netherlands are part of ADRA’s worldwide COVID-19 response. As the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ADRA is assisting approximately 2.7 million families in more than 70 countries during the pandemic. ADRA’s emergency relief activities include distributing food, hygiene products and cash vouchers to people in need as well as training frontline workers and providing medical supplies to hospitals serving vulnerable communities. To help with ADRA’s ongoing COVID-19 response, visit ADRA.org.

Journalists who wish to learn more about this story may write to press@adra.org.

ABOUT ADRA

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended. For more information, visit ADRA.org.