Nga Net Pyar villagers and members of an ACTS mission team unloading food supplies.

Three Singaporeans braved the rain, flood waters and difficult terrain to bring aid to flood victims in two villages in Myanmar.

For the three Catholic volunteers it was an unforgettable mission as they packed food supplies and waded through murky water to give these to the flood victims.

Mr Jerome Teo, together with Mr Christopher Yit and his wife Christina Lee, were responding to a call for relief aid from Bishop Justin Saw Min Thide, who heads Hpa An Diocese.

The mission was part of an outreach by A Call To Share (ACTS), a Singapore Catholic missionary group, an affiliate of Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives Singapore or CHARIS. (See other story).

Hpa An, the capital of Myanmar’s Kayin State, had been hit by severe flooding over the past few months due to prolonged heavy rain and the rising water levels of the Than Lwin River. The flood victims were mainly padi farmers who lost their livelihoods as entire villages turned into expanses of water.

From Aug 30 to Sept 4, the trio assisted the Salesian Sisters there in buying, preparing, packing and delivering food supplies to two villages near Hpa An. The Salesian Sisters are involved in education and also provide humanitarian relief assistance.

The villages were only accessible by boat or by vehicles that can drive on mud tracks due to the floods. The team endured and reached out to more than 200 families in Nga Net Pyar village, most of whom were Buddhists, and Hton Bo Quay village, where most were Catholics.

Mr Christopher Yit giving food aid to a villager.

As the flood waters blocked the road at Nga Net Pyar village, the villagers helped the team to unload and carry the supplies to the villagers. The gratitude of the villagers could clearly be seen on their faces. “We initially came to share our skills, supplies, and our love with these villagers, but in the end we received so much more,” said Mr Yit.

Mr Teo added that despite the lack of food, clean water and proper sanitation, “the villagers have shown to us a strong sense of resilience, patience and love for one another. They continue to live with gratitude and hope, knowing that they are not forgotten.”

The group realised that besides financial aid, showing solidarity and support was crucial in seeing Christ in these disaster victims.


The Singapore mission team and the Salesian nuns they worked with. From left: Mr Jerome Teo, Sr Goretti, Sr Agatha, Ms Christina Lee and Mr Yit.

CHARIS and ACTS had each given more than $16,000 in aid for the flood victims.

After the trip, the team shared that they were reminded of the words of Pope Francis: “The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.”

The mission trip also drew a reflective response from Mr Teo. “The mission had brought about a respite for the villagers, but how long would it last?” he asked.


About CHARIS

Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives Singapore (CHARIS) is the umbrella body for overseas humanitarian aid by the Singapore Archdiocese. CHARIS is a member of Caritas Singapore and was launched on Aug 20, 2010, by Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia.

CHARIS is also part of Caritas Internationalis, which comprises more than 160 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations to build a better world for the poor and marginalised in over 200 countries.

CHARIS, together with its 21 affiliates within the Archdiocese, works towards supporting disaster victims and contributing to development and rehabilitation through grants and mission trips. This year, CHARIS also gave $50,000 to Caritas India in aid of flood victims in Kerala, and $50,000 to Caritas Cambodia for flood victims there. 

The CHARIS website is charis-singapore.org

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter