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ADRA Vietnam celebrates 25 years of service

On June 16, 2014, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) of Viet Nam celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a gala reception at the Hanoi Sheraton Hotel.  Attendees included ambassadors and representatives from at least nine embassies and consulates, Viet Nam government officials, and workers from six ADRA offices around the world as well as leaders from the Southern Asia-Pacific Division and Southeast Asia Union.

The event, which was organized by ADRA Viet Nam Country Director Filip Graovac and his dedicated team, saw over 100 guests and featured many active projects of the organization.  Graovac shares that the purpose of the celebration is, in part, to "express deepest gratitude to all our donors who have supported us and who are still providing valuable input and support, to all our partners for their hard work and dedication and finally, to all our friends and colleagues for being here for the last 25 years".

One of the key note speakers, Pastor Ralph S. Watts, served as the first president for ADRA International over 30 years ago and was still its president when ADRA Viet Nam was founded in 1989. During his speech, Watts explained the organization's history and development.  He also shared that "ADRA Viet Nam has been involved though the years in a variety of projects with funding as from as diverse sources as New Zealand to Canada.” He added that “the future of ADRA Viet Nam is very bright as it works closely with not only its donor countries but also with the local government".  Watts concluded his remarks by especially thanking the donor countries for all they have done to make the first 25 years such a big success. 
 
ADRA Viet Nam commenced their first project in the country in 1989 and formally completed their registration as a non-government organization (NGO) in 1993. Graovac shares that since then, it has “implemented over 200 development and relief projects nation-wide, targeting over 4.5 million of the most marginalized people in society, including women, children, the elderly, people with special needs and ethnic minority groups".  The primary focus includes five core sectors: Sustainable livelihoods, Health Projects, Education, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management.  Some of the more notable current projects include a cow-lending, micro-credit initiative to establish long-term livelihood through animal husbandry, clean water programs, HIV/AIDS prevention education, child education sponsorships, women's literacy programs, and massage therapist education and business training for blind adults. These projects give those who need it the most opportunities to improve their lives and better provide for themselves and their families.
 
When it comes to donor funding, ADRA Vietnam has found new ways to generate the resources for vital projects. Jair Parada, Chief Financial Officer for ADRA's Asian Regional office located in Bangkok, Thailand, shared that "ADRA Viet Nam is one of the organizations that have taken a very good approach to the (funding) changes that exist.  In the past, there was an interest to provide funding for the Southeast Asia nations.  Nowadays, as the economies of these nations have become stronger, the funding has been less.”  Parada notes, “ADRA Vietnam has embraced this; Instead of looking at it as a threat, they have looked at this as an opportunity by finding funding within the country, and we can look to partnerships with other private organizations and corporations for support of these projects instead of simply relying upon the government or outside sources to give this funding".

ADRA is a global humanitarian organization comprised of 134 supporting and implementing country offices world-wide.  Its mission is to work with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive change, one life at a time.
 
[Kevin Costello]
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