CHARIS, the archdiocesan organisation for overseas humanitarian work, will hold its inaugural forum and fair on Sept 10.

The Humanitarian Forum and Fair will be held at Catholic Junior College, and aims to generate awareness of the humanitarian work that the Church is undertaking in the region.

The forum, to be held in the afternoon, will feature a dozen local and international speakers who have been at the helm of humanitarian work.

Mr Michel Roy, newly elected secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis and a 30-year veteran in the field, will deliver the keynote address, One Human Family, Zero Poverty.

Renowned moral theologian Fr David Garcia will give a theological reflection on the “whys” of human suffering and overseas humanitarian work.

A panel comprising representatives of organisations serving in Asia will look at how the Church is responding to humanitarian needs in the continent. Catholic Relief Services USA, Caritas Australia, Caritas Sri Lanka, Canossian Daughters of Charity and Jesuit Refugee Services are among the organisations represented.

The fair, to be held in the evening, will feature more than 25 booths showcasing the work of various Church affiliates of CHARIS, as well as organisations outside the Church that are collaborating with CHARIS on overseas humanitarian work.

CHARIS, which stands for the Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives Singapore, is not quite new. Although it came into being less than a year ago, it actually takes over from the former Archdiocesan Crisis Coordination Team (ACCT). CHARIS expands on the ACCT’s role of disaster response to coordinating all forms of overseas humanitarian aid for the archdiocese.

Since its formation, CHARIS has been responding to numerous natural catastrophes and humanitarian situations. These include the floods in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia; typhoons and cyclones in Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand; and earthquakes in Indonesia, China, New Zealand, Myanmar and Japan.

The support provided includes grant aid, supplies and volunteers for mission trips.

CHARIS says it hopes the forum and fair will show Catholics in Singapore the many ways they can contribute to the Church’s social mission.

The Humanitarian Forum & Fair 2011 will be held from 3-9.30 pm. Tickets are at $25 with discounts for early birds and certain groups. For details and registration, get the brochure and form from your parish or visit http://www.charis-singapore.org/hff/

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