Levels of food insecurity (AI) in Brazil have increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent survey by the Brazilian Network on Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security (Rede PENSSAN), approximately 117 million people had some degree of AI in the last quarter of 2020.
However, to mitigate this situation and bring help to those in need, social projects have been developed across the country. In Northern Pará, the Adventist Church promoted the distribution of 70 tons of food during Holy Week. The Easter Mutirão, as the initiative is known, was created last year and collected more than 120 tons of food in the region in its first iteration.
Of the 70 total tons distributed this year, 50 are part of a cooperation between the denomination's administrative headquarters in Northern Brazil and Pará. Therefore, the remaining 20 tons are the result of the collection that takes place in the churches through the Adventist Solidarity Action (ASA), a ministry present in each congregation to help members and people in the local community.
In the vision of Pastor Rogério Sousa, the Adventist Church's financial director for the States of Pará, Amapá and Maranhão—União Norte Brasileira (UNB), the partnership reaffirms the concern and social commitment of the Adventist Church at a time when the pandemic strongly affects the income and work possibilities of the population in all regions of Brazil.
For these foods to reach the beneficiary families, the collaboration of Adventist pastors in local congregations was essential. With the measures of social isolation and the need to avoid agglomerations, they were responsible for coordinating the registration of people in each city served by the project.
Many Hands Work
Pastor Paulo Godinho, president of the Adventist Church in Northern Pará—Northern Pará Association (ANPa), reveals that the project should continue with the work of ASA in churches throughout the territory. “During Holy Week, we mobilized to serve Adventist families financially affected by the pandemic. The idea is to expand aid to the community throughout the year,” he said.
In all, about 3,000 families were benefited from the baskets collected by the Easter Mutirão. During Holy Week, a van loaded with food visited 21 cities to deliver donations to Adventist pastors.
Pastor Paulo Coelho, financial director for the Adventist Church in the region, took part in the action and expressed his happiness in collaborating with the project. “It was a great joy to go to each church and deliver the baskets in the hands of the pastors so that they could serve the members and the community. This reinforces what is in the pastor's DNA: the motivation to pastor and help others,” he detailed.
Sixty kilometers from the capital of Pará, in the city of Castanhal, Pastor Jeremias Mesquita leads a district with nine Adventist churches. According to Mesquita, due to the pandemic, many members became unemployed and still face difficulties to feed themselves. "With the receipt of basic food baskets, here in the Imperial District, at least 40 families will benefit from the Easter Mutirão," he said. The objective of the Adventist Church's leadership in Northern Pará is that by June and July, more than 100 tons of food will be donated across the region.