Soon after the end of the Second World War, the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS), was created to aid those affected by serious disasters, which were becoming more and more frequent. SAWS was incorporated in Maryland, USA on November 13, 1956. To reflect the Church’s worldwide involvement, the name Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service was changed to Seventh-day Adventist World Service in 1973.

As crisis situations became more and more serious, relief and development efforts increased and SAWS itself developed into a new organization called ADRA, Adventist Development and Relief Agency. This is now the official and separately registered international development and relief agency of the SDA Church. The name change from SAWS to ADRA occurred in the early 1980s, to more fully reflect the nature of work that is being carried out.

ADRA Canada started developing its humanitarian work in 1983.  It was officially established in 1985 and has since facilitated programs in over 80 countries around the globe. The primary goal has always been to help people to help themselves. Following its mandate, ADRA Canada has successfully helped hundreds of thousands of people escape the cyclical poverty that they were born into. ADRA Canada was granted General Consultative Status by the United Nations in 1997.

Emergency response to natural and man-made disasters continues to be an integral part of ADRA’s work. Through our worldwide network of partner offices, ADRA is well positioned to often be one of the first responders on the ground.  Led by a well-trained professional team, local volunteers respond to disasters by providing food, clothing, water, medicines, and temporary shelters to those suffering from famine, hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, floods, and conflict.  After the storm has passed and the immediate needs have been met, ADRA stays on, helping communities rebuild.

However, disaster relief is only a small part of what ADRA does.  Through professional programs of community-based development, ADRA Canada helps families break free from lives of poverty and misery.  With the experience gained from 30 years of working in the field, ADRA Canada is implementing effective programs that bring pure water, sanitation and health education to villages that have never experienced these services before.  Basic education programs teach people how to grow nutritious food for their families, how to read and how to start a successful small business.   Villagers join co-operative groups where they are able to share resources and access small loans.  Participants enjoy opportunities for personal development and learn skills in communication and conflict resolution.  People discover their worth, their basic human rights, and how to avoid being trapped in schemes of modern-day slavery.  Programs accentuate the role of women and the protection of children from family and community violence.