The Impact of COVID-19
On March 15, 2020, Serbia declared a national emergency due to COVID-19. Following the declaration and the decrease in economic activity, the working hours offered in Serbia declined by an estimated 14.8% during the second quarter of 2020. More than 700,000 workers were at immediate risk, including those in wholesale trade, transport services and crop and animal production.
Since the pandemic, Serbia has faced many challenges, including rising energy and food prices, rising inflation and slow trade. Without structural reform, many feel as though there cannot be a boost in productivity.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency
ADRA, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, has provided counseling and medical checkups for the homeless and displaced in Serbia, as well as transportation to health care institutions and other health care services. During the lockdown, children in Serbia also received tutoring from ADRA teachers, and this continues in 2023, as children in poverty receive education services from ADRA.
In Serbia, 45% of children will drop out of school once they reach 11 years of age, because of poverty and a lack of support for education. Yearly, ADRA supports 150 students who are a part of socially vulnerable families to enroll in school, advance their education and prevent dropout. ADRA provides links to employers for these students once they leave school.
ADRA estimates there are 5,000 to 15,000 persons who face homelessness in the capital of Serbia. ADRA supports up to 1,000 with mobile showers and laundry, as well as health care and psychological support. The organization works with authorities to ensure the proper implementation of relevant policies and to create new ways to end homelessness. Monthly, ADRA provides 550 hygiene, 350 health care and 450 psychological services to the homeless population in Serbia.
ADRA trains local police to work with the homeless population. They also issue personal IDs and insurance to the impoverished people of Serbia. Yearly, ADRA lifts 130 homeless people out of their difficult living situations so they are able to restore their social lives and integrate into society.
In Belgrade, ADRA has assisted in the renovation of a church. This renovation is meant to house a church congregation with some apartments offered to key workers. Currently, the organization is holding classes for Roma refugee children on Sunday mornings to improve their education. This is to help these children get into schools. ARDA runs formal education classes as well as informal ones where children learn about essential life skills and discuss the effects of smoking, drugs and alcohol consumption.
ADRA’s vision is to work with churches in Serbia to provide opportunities to break generational poverty and help victims of economic and political policies.
– Abigail DiCarlo