Earthquake survivors sell vegetables near the destroyed Pasa Raya food
market in Padang, Indonesia, last year. CNS file photo


Caritas Humanitarian Aid and Relief Initiatives, Singapore (CHARIS) is making its first

archdiocese-wide appeal for donations to its new Humanitarian Aid Fund, while preparing to send a team of volunteers to Padang, Indonesia, to build houses for earthquake victims.

Unlike the Disaster Aid Fund managed by the Archdiocesan Crisis Coordination Team (ACCT) which only provides funds for disaster aid, “the Humanitarian Aid Fund is broader based because it covers all humanitarian situations”, including adverse circumstances arising from poverty, civil strife and war, said CHARIS executive director Stephen Phoon.

The new fund will have sub-accounts for disasters in general and also for specific disasters. “Monies left from the Disaster Aid Fund and future donations to specific disasters in the future will be accounted for in these sub-accounts,” added Mr Phoon.

CHARIS was launched late August this year and takes over from ACCT.

CHARIS “is not just about immediate emergency relief or disasters” but also the “long term reconstruction needs in the aftermath of disasters”, said Mr Phoon.

As such, CHARIS will be sending a team of 16 volunteers to Padang end November to build houses for the victims of the September 2009 earthquake there.

Mr Phoon said he hopes Catholics “will give generously of their time as well as their money”. He added: “We need volunteers too, especially those interested in overseas humanitarian work.”

Asian nations have been hit hard by recent disasters: July’s Pakistan floods, mid-October’s Typhoon Megi and Cyclone Giri affecting several South East Asian countries, the recent earthquakes in Sumatra and the eruption of Mt Merapi, both in Indonesia.

In the aftermath of the Pakistan floods, CHARIS provided an initial grant of US$50,000 to Caritas Pakistan for its emergency relief efforts. It has also shipped over 800 portable water filters and sought to ship 10,000 blankets to Lahore.

CHARIS has also pledged another US$200,000 for relief and reconstruction work in Pakistan, Mr Phoon told CatholicNews.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia, CHARIS’ new Humanitarian Aid Fund aims to cover all humanitarian situations in a message on CHARIS information leaflets distributed to parishes, noted the great need of people in developing countries, “especially those impacted by disasters, diseases, strife, and poverty”.

“Can we do more to help?” he asked.

“As part of fulfilling its mission, CHARIS has set up the Humanitarian Aid Fund. I encourage you to give generously to the Fund, to volunteer your time and efforts,” he said. 

Those interested in humanitarian work may contact CHARIS at 6338-0182 or email info@ charis-singapore.org. Donations can be made by crossed cheque payable to “Humanitarian Aid Fund”, optionally indicating any specific humanitarian situation on the back and sent to CHARIS, 55 Waterloo Street, #09-03A, Singapore 187954.

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