Participants learning how to set up mobile toilets.

The archdiocese’s umbrella body for overseas humanitarian aid, CHARIS, held a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training session recently.

The 15 participants who attended included volunteers from CHARIS’ affiliates Acts29, the Catholic Nurses Guild and Project Kyrie, a group that assists the less privileged in Singapore and overseas.

The training, which took place on Feb 18, was held at ST Logistics’ Army Logistics Base along Old Chua Chu Kang Road.

ST Logistics is an independent contractor that stocks and ships relief supplies for CHARIS (Caritas Humanitarian Aid & Relief Initiatives Singapore). These are namely mosquito nets, water filtration systems, blankets, human sanitation equipment and tents.

During the full-day session, participants were given a comprehensive tour of the storage facilities and explanations on the supplies that CHARIS stockpiles. They were also given training on what to expect on the ground.

Col (Retd) Chan Jwee Kah, who headed a UN-directed mission in Aceh, Indonesia, in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami, shared his experiences.

He stressed the importance of being sensitive to cultural differences, working in a team, and conducting a thorough needs assessment before embarking on any relief mission.

“It was an eye-opener,” said one nurse participant, Ms Susan Loh. “Getting involved in the hands-on sessions was really useful.”

CHARIS will be organising two more training sessions this year in July and October. Details will be made available in due course. For more information on CHARIS, call 6338 0182 or email [email protected]