Research from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean shows  that the adverse effects of the pandemic will not subside in 2021. The organization, which has 46 member countries and eight non-independent territories, warned in July this year that the social impacts of the pandemic crisis are still serious.
According to this data, last year the extreme poverty rate in this region reached 12.5 percent and poverty 33.7 percent. Additionally, moderate or severe food insecurity reached 40.4 percent of the population in 2020.
Religious organizations have also faced the challenge of reducing the disastrous effects of this pandemic. Adventist institutions, for example, were responsible for serving in various ways more than two million people in eight South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. This was all in the first half of 2021. In addition to the numbers calculated, there are other projects developed that were not included.
ADRA, the Adventist humanitarian agency, saw the realization of 112 projects in South America in the first six months of the year. These initiatives resulted in assistance to 972,233 people being directly benefited. ADRA has partnerships with public agencies and private entities and has a mission of solidarity.
Adventist Solidarity Action (ASA), a department with expertise in Adventist local congregations, also offered assistance in the first half of 2021 to help alleviate suffering related to the pandemic. In this case there were 51,286 solidarity projects with 953,044 beneficiaries. Altogether, the records show that ASA volunteers were responsible for collecting 3 million kilos (6.6 million pounds) of food. Not to mention 60,026 people who participated in human development courses.
Another effective action was the blood donation incentive project. Life for Lives, coordinated by the Youth Ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, started several years ago. In the first six months of 2021, Life for Lives had a record of 63,277 donors. A considerable part of this group of people often return to blood banks to donate, which becomes essential for maintaining the medical supply available for those who need it.
Oud Amigo, an initiative that began during the pandemic, remains firm in the eight South American countries. The project consists of free assistance to people seeking psychological help, many due to the pandemic effects. From January to June of this year, 7,097 people were helped.
The Adventist Education Network also contributed to this social balance, through educational institutions in eight countries (which include colleges, schools, university centers, colleges, and universities), 50,661 people were assisted in social initiatives with the donation of 25,033 food baskets.
For Pastor Stanley Arco, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America, the data show at least two aspects. The first is that society needs permanent charitable efforts, not a one-off.
“In this case, Adventists seek not only to initiate good projects but to keep them constant, including and especially during the pandemic period, so that there is continuity in the care for the most vulnerable,” Arco points out.
Another aspect that Arco emphasizes is that the solidarity described is not just an act of Adventist institutions. He draws attention to the fact that, behind these numbers, there is dedication and love from many people who voluntarily reach out to help their fellow humans.
“This social balance is the result of people's faith and love, moved by the Holy Spirit,” he says, “to reduce the pain of those who are suffering beside us.”