Adina in Norway

The Adina Foundation is a humanitarian organization that was established in Bergen in 2001. Our motto is: WE BUILD PEOPLE!

The Adina Foundation is small, efficient and un-bureaucratic organization. We are proud to say that 98 percent of the funds we receive is put towards our efforts in the field, thanks to comprehensive voluntary work, and well-organized cooperation with our loyal supporters.

Our main office is located in Bergen, Norway, and is manned by one CEO, and one office manager, both employed at 50 percent capacity. The cost of our administration is kept low by the efforts of our team of volunteers within diverse fields of expertise, and loyal sponsors that have followed us through many years.

The fixed assets that secure our relief work activities both at home and abroad are donated by schools, kindergartens, businesses, Norad, private benefactors, and long-term patrons. The money raising campaigns held in the schools are very important to us, because both the proceeds earned, as well as the enthusiasm displayed by the participants tells us that Norwegian students actually care about the building of a better tomorrow.

These charity campaign days also serve as a useful opportunity for the teachers, who can apply new approaches to their subjects, whether the topic is beggars, poverty, or the continent of tomorrow – Africa. We in the Adina Foundation are happy to facilitate visits in both countries. We yearly bring groups of both students and teachers to the south. Romania and Uganda are two countries that have a lot to offer in the way of sights, in addition to the Adina Foundation projects, and we love sharing them with both young and old.

The projects in both countries are run in close cooperation with the partner-organization “Fundatia Adina Stiftelsen Romania” in Romania and the “Adina Foundation Uganda” in Uganda. The general operations are overseen closely by a local division which sends monthly reports to the administration in Norway, and there are Norwegian representatives in all of our local divisions abroad. This makes the exchange of information simple and efficient. It’s imperative to the Adina Foundation that the rules and laws within the country we are working are upheld, and that we offer our employees a working environment that coincides with what we expect for our employees in Norway.

The capital that goes into running our operations in both countries, comes in large part from Norway. It has been a challenge to acquire sponsors in both Romania and Uganda, but local events and participation in local markets has resulted in some small income.

Credible local anchoring helps build ownership to the projects, but we have to acknowledge that the cultural differences offer us challenges that require close monitoring in the form of regular visits from Norway. Close contact with the local authorities, that see the first hand results of our efforts, makes us a very valuable partner in both countries.

Another well-known Adina Foundation motto is: From poverty to opportunity! Unfortunately, the motto is equally relevant in both the country by the Black Sea, and under the equator. The Adina Foundations goal in both countries is to help disadvantaged children and youth to become as independent as possible. This is done though schooling, direct economic support, providing work training, and rehabilitation.

It’s easy to get in touch with the Adina Foundation’s CEO and board members. Our information is available in the form of text and images, and we are happy to attend any sort of event, and can if wanted present ourselves and our efforts in the form of a lecture, or PowerPoint presentation.

The Adina Foundation is approved by the Norwegian “Innsamlingskontrollen”, which gives an extra level of insurance to our supporters that the money they donated, goes towards helping others. 

Why we are in Romania

The Adina Foundations projects in Romania has as its goals to help poor and disadvantaged children and young people to attain a better life and an improved standard of living. The key to accomplishing this is education.

The offices of the “Fundatia Adina Stiftelsen” (FAS) are located in Craiova, in the southwest of Romania. We have three regular members of staff, that work for us on a full time basis. In addition to those three, we also have five employees that are hired on a project to project basis. All of our activities happen in villages outside the city center. Craiova is the regional capital of Oltenia county, one of Romania’s two most impoverished areas. Oltenia is among the very poorest regions in the EU, and the unemployment rate is very high, particularly among the young.

To be poor in the countryside of Romania is synonymous with a life in misery, no matter what standard you measure it against. It’s a hard thing to imagine the living conditions that not only exist, but that are also governmentally approved – in what is a European country in the year 2016. In this there is no difference between the Roma people or ethnic Romanians, poverty affects everyone equally brutally, and the country's social benefits do not reach far.

In many families it is expected that the children and young work to help secure the families economic footing. 51 percent of all children and adolescents aged 0-17 are at risk of growing up in poverty, according to figures from Eurostat. Within the target area which FAS focuses on aiding, 71 percent of families live in homes without running water or toilets.

It's not easy to do your homework and get an education with this as a starting point. That’s why hours spent after school at the Adina Foundation after school program, is worth its weight in gold. We have a great team of highly qualified teachers who are familiar with the challenges of their students. Close observation and follow-up of students from social workers and teachers yield encouraging results. The level of school dropouts is and has remained at 0 percent, year after year. This is noted by regional authorities; of which several have approached us with requests to establish similar activities with them.

FAS and our employees have been given several national awards for outstanding volunteer work. The Norwegian term "dugnad", that roughly translates into voluntary community work, was unknown in the Romanian vernacular until we started our projects. Through our methodical building of local networks, we have experienced that we come into contact with qualified woman and men that are eager to help our efforts in the day centers and other events and activities. The local involvement builds a feeling ownership towards the activities and aid, and this feeling of ownership is one of our success factors.

Our guiding principle is always – help to self-help. The activities we organize put a lot of importance to the construction of identity, self-development and education. These are three important factors in the efforts to help children and young people from poor backgrounds to become upright citizens who will go on to engage in further efforts to even out the country's class differences.

Romania's brutal dictatorship was over in the Christmas of 1989. The country is a member of the EU, but Romania's governance and economy are still severely affected by corruption in the top levels of society. But what we see, is that the older children – although born as poor, through our efforts and their own hard work, are able to create a future for themselves after leaving school. They say that the aid they received through help with homework, interaction with others, and social learning, has proven to be essential for coping with life outside the villages.

Why we are in Uganda

Uganda is one of Africa’s most destitute and corrupt countries. The need for aid is enormous, especially in North-Uganda, which has been ravaged by civil war for decades.

The Adina Foundation Uganda (AFU) was in its present form registered as an NGO (Non-governmental Organization) in 2009, and the general operations in Lira got started in 2010 out of rented spaces. We have a close working cooperation with the health stations in the district. Currently there are 20 employees at the center, which has made us an important and popular employer for qualified labor.

The main focus of the AFU is the operation of the Lira Rehabilitation Center (LRC). We rehabilitate disabled children through training at the center, or by facilitating the needed operations that we purchase from the CoRSU-clinic in Kampala. Our people at the LRC also take care of the rehabilitation needed after extensive operations.

The number of disabled children increased sharply as a result of the civil war that ended with the ceasefire in 2006. These children are the most grievously affected, and live in a pitiful state outside the communities of the villages. Our employees witness that disabled people are oppressed and that some even are put out to die. This group needs our help in the form of physical and psychological rehabilitation, food, care, clothing, health care and schooling.

Our experience with the handicapped children is that they often have a fierce determination to move forward with their life, and because of this motivation and inner spirit they are a force to be reckoned with. The AFU employees follow the progress of the children closely at home in their villages and note that the formerly "useless" children become great role models for their parents and guardians as they acquire skills like learning to read and write. The Adina Foundation motto of “We build people” stands true, but we have found that also our "building yard" is aiding the work of lifting villages stuck in an antiquated time, into our time with the children as the constructors of the bridges.

The Adina Foundation’s underlying principles are present also in all of the AFUs activities in northern Uganda. We ensure that the children and young people we supply with healthcare, also receive proper schooling in the periods they are staying at the center. The stay at the center varies dependent on the seriousness of the injury, and a stay can be anywhere from a few weeks to up to a year. The average stay for most children is three months. We use this period to engage the children and youngsters to give serious thoughts towards entrepreneurship, with a view to building a future for themselves based on their own earnings.

AFU as well as several other international organizations, note in their analysis that there is a considerable lack of knowledge and entrepreneurship in this extremely fertile land. Over 70 percent of the country's gainfully employed population is associated with agriculture, but part of the challenge is that too many farmers only produce food for their own consumption.

In February 2016 Uganda re-elected President Museveni. He has been actively involved in various national and regional campaigns to increase the country’s food production - and equally important, increase the quality of teaching in schools.

24 percent of children aged 0-5 years who grow up in rural areas are malnourished. According to Uganda's national statistics, at least two million children aged 5-17 years are engaged in child labor.

The AFU are daily met with a community of citizens who want to put the war behind them. There is much talk about forgiveness, even among adult women and young girls who have been through horrors the rest of us can hardly imagine. Forgiveness is enshrined in the culture and the people's positive attitude about the future makes us humble.

The history of Adina Foundation

The Adina Foundation was established in Bergen, Norway in 2001, but the foundation entered its infancy already two years prior to this, when Ove Haugsdal (picture) made the decision to set aside a fixed amount of money every month, that would be put towards aiding children in countries that did not offer the same standard of living and opportunities as Norway.

Ove’s youngest daughter was at the time attending Bjørgvin High School in Bergen, and she connected Ove with Inger Sagvaag, who was instrumental in the school’s charitable work for impoverished HIV- and AIDS- afflicted children in Romania.  Ove traveled to Craiova, where he met the people in charge of the Infectious Disease Hospital, Hospital 3. Hospital 3 was in charge of treating HIV-infected children, several of which were a part of the Bjørgvin relief program. The children had been infected as a result of contaminated needles from various hospitals. The scandal that followed shocked far beyond the borders of Romania.

Ove talked to his friend Bjørn Storegjerde about the experience, and in the coming months the two traveled together several times to Craiova. Clothing, food, and various equipment was collected in Bergen, and at first the two friends were responsible for the distribution in Craiova. Their passion project grew, and they soon realized that better organization was needed. After a foundation capital of 50.000kr was secured, the Adina Foundation was established on the 7th of November 2001.

The children’s home Padea, located roughly 30km outside Craiova, quickly became a favorite among the Adina Foundation efforts – as it also was for Bjørgvin High School. Roughly 25 children from underprivileged families, suffering from tuberculosis, lived in and attended school at Padea. When the children’s home was at risk of being shut down in 2004, the Adina Foundation took over the responsibilities for the general operations through “Fundatia Adina Stiftelsen” (FAS) in Craiova. Through close cooperation with Bønes elementary school and other contributors in Bergen, the Adina Foundation funded the costs of an upgrade to both the main house and surrounding farm. The Foundation also started a sponsorship campaign to secure the home a solid economic footing.

The estate making up Padea children’s home in 2007 was by law decreed to be returned to relatives of the original land owners, and the children’s home had to be shut down. FAS and the Adina Foundation in Norway succeeded in finding foster homes or other satisfactory solutions for all the children.

In 2008 the operations in Romania were reorganized, and the foundation put a bigger emphasis on getting the children out of spiraling poverty. Key areas the foundation focused on were education, the development of a personal identity, practical work exercises and physical activity. The Adina Foundation opened its first day center for poverty-stricken children in Goiesti, and then in the counties of Unirea, Diosti and Farcas.

In the Autumn of 2006 the Adina Foundation was contacted by Jon-Wigum Dahl, leader of the international department at Haukeland University Hospital. The hospital had for a year’s time been project leader for the establishment of a rehabilitation center for handicapped poverty-stricken children and former child soldiers, all of it financed by Framo Engineering AS and Trond Mohn.

The Adina Foundation was asked to coordinate the general operations of the business from Norway, working closely with a local foundation which would run the center. The Adina Foundation started work in 2007, tasked to rehabilitate handicapped children and to care for former child soldiers, which were from Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by the war criminal Joseph Kony, that had for the past twenty years terrorized the citizens of Lira.

After the truce in 2006, children and adults began returning to their villages, and among them where child soldiers who had been badly traumatized as a result of mental abuse, physical violence, and sexual abuse. The newly constructed center of Lira was specially designed with these needs in mind.

Increased workload meant that the Adina Foundation needed to establish a secretariat. Framo Engineering AS put an office to our disposal at their headquarters in Sandsli. Framo also supported us with the means to employ Hilde Severinsen Sandnes (picture) as CEO, who had a long history with the foundation through her work as a board member.

Unfortunately, after a short time economic infidelity was uncovered at the center in Lira, and cooperation with the local organization had to come to a close as a result. But the need in North-Uganda was far from over, and the Adina Foundation Uganda (AFU) was registered in the NGO Board in Kampala, in 2009. Today, this foundation runs the Lira Rehabilitation Centre out of a rented space.