By Joyce Gan

ACCT01.jpgArchdiocese of Singapore starts new aid fund to provide quick response to future humanitarian disasters.

Right, Indonesian earthquake survivors reach for food in Klaten on the Indonesian island of Java on May 30, 2006. More than 5,400 people were killed by the earthquake and some 200,000 were left homeless.

CNS photo

SINGAPORE - The Archdiocese of Singapore is starting a Disaster Aid Fund so that relief effort can be quickly mobilized to help people in disaster areas without having to wait for funds to be collected from parishes.

"The fund will be managed by the Archdiocese Crisis Coordination Team (ACCT), which comprises religious and lay professionals appointed by me," Archbishop Nicholas Chia announced through a letter that was sent to all parishes. "They will be accountable to the Archdiocese for all contributions given by you, and provide information on the ACCT website []," the archbishop added.

ACCT was set up to manage the Singapore church's response to the Dec 24, 2004 tsunami disaster. Its task is to evaluate, recommend and coordinate the channelling of relief funds to victims and their families, as well as to work with other church agencies, like Caritas, to rebuild communities. Msgr Eugene Vaz is the Spiritual Director to ACCT.

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In addition to providing aid for the tsunami victims ($1,538,068), ACCT has helped victims of the recent Philippines landslide (S$225,489), the 2005 Pakistan earthquake (S$349,299) and, most recently, the Central Java earthquake (S$253,052, as at press time).

The experience gained from these activities has helped ACCT realize the importance of mobilizing relief efforts as quickly as possible. For example, in the recent Central Java earthquake, the Catholic Medical Guild and ACCT arranged (through the Asian Federation of Catholic Medical Associations) for S$9,000 of urgently needed medical supplies to be sent to the Panti Rapih Hospital (the coordinating centre for medical relief in Yogyakarta) within a week of the earthquake.

A collection for the earthquake victims was only made in churches more than two weeks after the disaster. The Disaster Aid Fund will allow for initial aid to be provided immediately, even before a church collection is made to raise the funds.

Fundraising activities will be necessary from time to time for specific disaster situations or to top up the Disaster Aid Fund. The inaugural fund raising will take place at the weekend Masses of Jul 15-16 when the first and only collection will be made for this fund.

Crossed and bearer-only cheques can be made payable to Disaster Aid Fund and mailed to: Disaster Aid Fund, 2 Highland Road, LG-01, Singapore 549102.


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