Sunday, October 30, 2016

From Sri Lanka to Myanmar, Catholics Singaporeans evangelise in Asia

http://www.asianews.it/files/img/SINGAPORE_-_1027_-_Missione.jpgEach year, CHARIS Caritas Humanitarian Aid and Relief Initiatives, Singapore) organises missionary activities across the continent. One volunteer, Kok Xuan Er, worked in Colombo. Sister Angela educates Burmese girls.

I am grateful "that I have had the opportunity to serve others, to live the Word of God and undertake a journey with Sri Lankans," said Kok Xuan Er, a young volunteer with CHARIS (Caritas Humanitarian Aid and Relief Initiatives, Singapore). 

Founded in 2010, the group co-ordinates the natural disasters response for the archdiocese of the city-state. Each year, it promotes missionary activities across Asia with the participation by scores of volunteers, lay and religious, who dedicate themselves for variable lengths of time.

Kok Xuan Er went to Sri Lanka this year, where he helped in the installation of a bio-sand filtration system in the Hambantota area, giving locals the means to purify water.

His group of volunteers also worked with youth to improve hygienic conditions in some villages by building bathrooms.

"I'm a catechumen,” Kok said, “and for me to live the mission is to put the social teachings of the Church into practice."

Kok Xuan Er remembers a turning point of his experience. "I was working side by side with the locals, and all of us volunteers wore gloves. I realised that this unwittingly created a barrier between us and them, because it made us look privileged and distant. Since I took off the gloves the relationship with locals improved. It is a testimony that God’s graces can overcome language, cultural and socio-economic differences."

Sister Angela Ng is a Canossian nun affiliated with CHARIS. Her mission in Myanmar goes back several years. "I went in the north of the country for the first time between 2002 and 2008 with the sisters,” she explained, “and I started to educate young women, teaching them to take care of orphans who lived in Church-run hostels."

In 2008, she noted, "we founded the 'Education and Training Centre' thanks to CHARIS, which co-financed the Thanlyin facility.

“At first the home hosted 11 children. But now we have 185 trained young women running 38 hostels in 11 dioceses of Myanmar. They take care of 1,460 children and youth."

Sister Angela’s work is aimed at training educators. "We help them to understand that they have an important role to play, especially in our hostels in the northern part of the country where children and youth are victims of human trafficking and drug use."

The work that we do in Myanmar "reminds me of when the first Italian nuns came to Singapore. They had few resources and facilities. The food and culture were different from theirs, but they were motivated by the love of Jesus. The same applies to us here."

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