CARE (Catholic AIDS Response Effort) began in 1992 as an informal mission of mercy by lay and religious volunteers. Its main purpose has always been to provide shelter and care for PWAs (People living With AIDS) who are homeless and rejected by their community. A parallel mission is to help raise public awareness of HIV/AIDS, and to promote greater compassion and understanding towards PWAs.
CARE runs a shelter for PWAs at premises made available by the the Good Shepherd Sisters. It seeks to rehabilitate and discharge a resident as soon as possible, and still continue to care for them on a non-resident basis.
Residents at the shelter receive care for their physical needs, living facilities, food and clothes, befriending and counselling, emotional and spiritual support and diversional therapies. Where it can, CARE assists them to meet their medicinal needs and, where relevant, motivates and helps them acquire skills to rejoin the work force.
CARE’s is the only shelter for homeless PWAs in Singapore. CARE plans to improve facilities to increase the number of residents to 20 next year, from 12 (all males) now. Arrangements for women are included in the plan.
In response to calls for help from women with children, CARE embarked on a pilot project in which five women PWAs and their three children were brought together for care and consolation. They were also given groceries and financial assistance to cover the costs of school uniforms, books and tuition for their children, and treated to a movie, arcade games and a meal. CARE plans to expand this programme in 2009.
Today, CARE is a registered charity and a member of Caritas Singapore Community Council from whom it receives about 90 percent of its funding needs. It is dependent on public donations for the rest. CARE’s operating budget for 2009 is around $230,000.
Besides its members, CARE carries out its work with the help of volunteers, through corporate and institutional project groups and with support from other caregiving organisations. More volunteers are needed.
CARE has produced pamphlets and brochures for the public to enable them to invite PWAs who are lost and friendless to come to CARE, as well as to educate and open the minds of the community to their plight.
CARE also launched its school
outreach programme in February this year with a presentation to 500 pupils and six teachers of St. Joseph’s Institution. About 50 of the students and all six teachers went to CARE to know and work with PWAs on four occasions from March to September. This programme will be extended to other schools in 2009.