SINGAPORE – In Singapore, the church’s response to the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis is being coordinated by the Archdiocesan Crisis Coordination Team (ACCT) which was first established in 2005 following the December 2004 tsunami disaster. ACCT has liaised with Archbishop Charles Bo from Yangon and Archbishop Paul Grawng, President of the Conference of Bishops of Myanmar, on the situation in Myanmar to determine how the Singapore church can render aid.

Given the magnitude of the disaster, ACCT discussed with Archbishop Nicholas Chia who decided to call for a second collection that was made over the weekend of May 10-11 for the purpose of rendering aid to the victims of the disaster.

At the same time, several Catholic organizations (Good Shepherd Sisters, Myanmar Community in Singapore, Sisters of the Infant Jesus and Canossian Sisters) also embarked on activities to raise funds for the disaster. The Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore (CMG) and the World Federation of Catholic Medical Association (FIAMC) assembled a team of medical personnel ready to enter the affected areas of Myanmar once clearance had been obtained from the Myanmar Embassy.

The Myanmar Community in Singapore organized a Mass for the victims and for the people in Myanmar on May 11 at Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Myanmar Community will be organizing another Mass in English on Jun 8 at 3pm at the same church.

A coordinating meeting was held at the Catholic Social and Community Council (CSCC) on Saturday May 17 to share information, identify the needs on the ground as well as coordinate activities and support from Singapore Catholics. The meeting was attended by representatives from ACCT, CSCC, Jesuit Refugee Singapore, Catholic Medical Guild of Singapore, the Myanmar community as well as several religious orders which are currently maintaining a presence in Myanmar.

At the meeting, representatives from the Myanmar community as well as the religious orders gave an account of the situation on the ground and their needs. ACCT and the World Federation of Catholic Medical Association shared inputs received from both Archbishop Charles Bo and Archbishop Paul Grawng.

As at May 28, ACCT has received about $550,000. More is expected as not all parishes have submitted their collections.

So far, S$150,000 has already been disbursed to provide immediate relief. Of this, S$10,000 has been remitted to Mercy Relief and the remainder to the Myanmar Disaster Relief Committee established by the Myanmar church under the leadership of Yangon Archbishop Charles Bo and various Catholic organizations which are involved in immediate relief efforts.

The rest of the funds collected would be used primarily in the rebuilding of lives such as rebuilding their homes, their livelihoods as well as providing grief and trauma counselling to those affected and will also be made available to the victims and families of the disaster through the various organizations.

All requests for funds can be directed to the ACCT, 2 Highland Road #LG-01, Singapore 549102.

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