Our History

For more than 30 years, ADRA has remained committed to working with communities worldwide to improve their quality of life.

Established in 1956 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ADRA underwent two name changes before becoming the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in 1984. Originally called Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service or SAWS, the agency became Seventh-day Adventist World Service in 1973.

While our name changed throughout the early years, our core principles remained. In 1958, SAWS reported disaster relief shipments to 22 countries with a total value of $485,000. Four years later, the number of countries increased to 29, totaling $2.3 million worth of supplies. During this period, countries in South America and the Middle East, sites of major disasters, were the recipients of immediate emergency relief.

By the mid-1970s, we began to broaden our mission from disaster relief to long-term development projects in vulnerable communities. From an initial international staff of approximately 600, our programs expanded to include: building health clinics in parts of Africa, assisting hurricane victims in Central America, teaching hygiene and health to children in Asia, and supporting women and girls through education.

In 1997, ADRA was granted General Consultative Status by the United Nations, the highest status given to nongovernmental organizations. This allowed us the opportunity to participate in the international community on a broader scale.

New decade, same mission

Today, ADRA is a leading humanitarian agency operating in more than 130 countries with a dedicated team of 6,000 staff and volunteers. While our offices are often miles and oceans apart, we work together as a unified whole, bringing positive transformation to a world in need.

Every day, we task ourselves with finding new ways to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, and take in the stranger. As needs arise and challenges grow, we strive to realize our mission, reflecting God’s love through compassionate acts of humanitarian service.

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