062.jpgSINGAPORE - After many years of relying on volunteers, the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI) is now able to employ four full-time staff following approval of its budget by the Archdiocesan Finance Commission.

Right, ACMI President Elizabeth Tan asks Singaporean Catholics to treat migrants with respect and fairness.

The past year has seen it undergo structural changes including the writing of a new constitution. Despite these changes, more volunteers are still needed for various services.

As a commission, ACMI functions as "a group of people who gives direction on how to support the ministry to migrants in the diocese" under the mandate of the archbishop, explained Elizabeth Tan, President of ACMI since 2004. "ACMI seems to have the dual role of also being a migrants service centre," Ms Tan added.

Its ongoing services include a helpline, skills training centre, soup kitchen, counselling, spiritual formation, legal assistance, casework, public education information, social and cultural activities. Most of these services are run by volunteers, some of whom are migrant workers.

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ACMI works closely with the Good Shepherd Sisters who run a shelter for foreign domestic workers who have been abused, whether physically or financially, and those who have been illegally deployed.

ACMI has also made efforts to educate everyone to be aware and sensitive to the needs of migrant workers in Singapore. Through various parish awareness programmes, it has introduced its services to both employers and workers, such as providing practical advice where necessary to both employers and workers. It also assist parishes to set up facilities for migrants; the Lourdes Migrants Skill Centre that was recently set up in Church of Our Lady of Lourdes is one such example.

"[ACMI appeals to] Catholics in Singapore to treat the guests from foreign lands with respect, fairness and dignity, to share with the migrant guests, our culture and laws, so that they can integrate into our society by being part of us yet at the same time, not losing their own culture," said Ms Tan in her speech on the World Migration Sunday celebrations on Sep 17.

More information on ACMI can be found at their website: www.migrants.org.sg where those interested to volunteer can download a Volunteer Application Form. Enquiries can also be made by telephone (6280 5424 / 6283 9953).

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