II n 2008, ADRA Portugal initiated a program of national projects to help the most deprived families affected by the economic crisis. At that time, Portuguese churches chose local volunteer representatives to design social responses relevant to their geographical area. All volunteers received a manual of procedures and crisis training through the newly created National Bank of Volunteering.
Twelve years have passed and the national volunteer network has grown, matured, and created interesting and useful projects for their specific regions. Some projects included supporting needy families and school children, ministering to elderly in isolation and the homeless, and generally helping others in vulnerable situations. Volunteers have also organized movements to raise awareness of important issues and call for change through adopting sustainable, inclusive behavior and promoting social justice.
In response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, ADRA has relied on several long-standing volunteers. It has also opened two separate new calls for volunteers: one for people outside risk groups who could perform emergency relief tasks, and another to recruit volunteers to support senior’s homes, where residents have become immensely fragile with the spread of the virus.
ADRA Portugal’s action during the COVID-19 pandemic can be summarized as follows:
We are continuing to support the beneficiaries we were already helping; supporting beneficiaries who have been sent to us by our municipal and parish partners; supplying partner institutions, such as Food Bank Against Hunger, with volunteers; strengthening support for homeless; shopping for people in isolation/quarantine; visiting the pharmacy for risk groups and those in quarantine; calling people to provide encouragement; designing and producing masks to distribute to volunteers, health professionals, caregivers and others on the front line.
In mid-March we launched the movement “Contaminate the World with Acts of Love and Compassion,” with photos, videos, testimonies, and the hashtag #contagieomundoomamorecompaixao to highlight what our volunteers are doing. Our Facebook and Instagram followers left positive comments that really encouraged us.
Sandra Ferreira, one of our volunteers, said: “At this time of COVID-19, with covered faces and inhibited gestures, and the economic difficulties of families in the country in general, the panorama of sadness is growing. But the love of ADRA volunteers generates light.”
Volunteering is a fundamental part of ADRA’s action in Portugal. We are very grateful for the approximately 1,200 people who regularly collaborate with us and we feel that they are the face, the feet, the hands, and the heart of ADRA among the most vulnerable, in every location.
The original news was published on the ADRA Europe Facebook Page.