Above, this man is a beneficiary of a housing project funded by ACCT in Banda Aceh. Where home was a tent after the tsunami, it is now a proper house.

SINGAPORE - One year after the tsunami disaster on Dec 26, 2004, life is slowly being restored in the devastated areas. In Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the worst hit areas, the Singapore Archdiocese Crisis Coordination Team (ACCT), which was formed early this year to coordinate archdiocesan response to crises like the tsunami, continues to play an important role.

Its responsibilities include the collection and disbursement of funds and monitoring their usage.

"Preference is [given] to areas where other aid is less forthcoming, where NGOs and government agencies were not or less present," William Chee, ACCT Grants Committee Secretariat explained.

Priority is given to projects that help with rehabilitation and training and provide opportunities to rebuild lives, he added.

Two projects were identified on March 18 this year when Archbishop Nicholas Chia, accompanied by the Knights of Malta, visited Archbishop Anicetus B. Sinaga of Medan. Housing repairs for two villages in Banda Aceh, and repairs to St. Josef Church and schools in the church compound at Lawe Desky, all in Indonesia, have been completed.

"Our aid goes to victims most in need irrespective of race or religion," Mr Chee says. Two non-Catholic organisations that have been funded are Tomorrow's Hope and Habitat for Humanity (HFH).

Most of the funds collected have been disbursed or committed and ACCT is now left in the monitoring mode. However, ACCT has been providing volunteers in addition to funding.

It has organised three trips that involved 40 Catholic volunteers to build houses in Sri Lanka; another 50 volunteers left for Aceh from Dec 11 to 17. Volunteers cover their own expenses.

Right, repairs to St. Josef Church (left) and schools in the church compound at Lawe Desky, Indonesia, have been completed. Lawe Desky villagers will celebrate Christmas Mass in the newly renovated church. ACCT also funded a new cultural centre in Banda Aceh which is being used as a Muslim house of worship and for other community activities.

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