'Overwhelming' aid from Singapore

'Overwhelming' aid from Singapore
Worshippers at a mass for typhoon victims at St Vincent de Paul Church in Yio Chu Kang Road on Sunday afternoon.

Tears flowed during a special two-hour mass at the Catholic parish of St Vincent de Paul on Sunday afternoon as 1,300 Filipinos and Singaporeans gathered to pray for the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

The mass, which was also attended by Philippine ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz, saw worshippers give to a special collection that will be channelled to the Caritas Humanitarian Aid and Relief Initiatives Singapore (Charis), the Catholic Church's social arm for overseas humanitarian aid.

In a reply to The Straits Times, Archbishop William Goh said the Catholic community in Singapore, a significant portion of which hails from the Philippines, is deeply moved by the plight of the disaster victims.

"It is difficult to even imagine the devastation, pain, grief and anguish of the people because we have been so blessed here in Singapore," he said. "Nevertheless, our hearts go out to all those who have lost everything they have ever had, especially their loved ones."

The Archbishop added that he was heartened to see the community, individuals and parishes "rising to the occasion to show solidarity with the afflicted".

Other churches, including St Ignatius Church and Holy Trinity Church, have organised masses, raised funds and collected rations for typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, City Harvest Church is this morning set to send a 15-man relief team to Iloilo, one of the provinces devastated by the typhoon. The team, which is taking clothes and money for medical supplies, will set up a mobile emergency clinic.

Religious organisations of other faiths are also doing their bit for the millions affected after the typhoon hit the Philippines on Nov 8.

Donations poured in by the truckload at the Tibetan Buddhist centre Gaden Shartse Dro-Phen Ling after a post seeking blankets, clothes and footwear on the centre's Facebook page went viral on Tuesday.

The collection has since stopped as the two-storey centre has run out of space, said its secretary, Ms Jamie Looi, 30. She described the outpouring as overwhelming.

"I think it's an exercise that really transcends race and religion," she said.

Tomorrow, the Singapore Buddhist Lodge will donate about $25,000 to the Philippine Embassy's department of welfare and development to help rescue and rebuilding efforts, said its chief operating officer, Mr Gary Liang.

The lodge has also been working closely with community centres to provide blankets and 3,500kg of rice to survivors.

The Blessings To All Committee, representing all mosques in Singapore, has also placed donation boxes at all 69 mosques last Friday for a week.


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