Relief efforts

On 26 December the Indian Ocean Tsunami was unleashed, claiming more than 200,000 lives in the region. Affected countries stretched from the Maldives and Indonesia to Sri Lanka and Somalia. MR sent a total of 17 medical relief missions, involving 120 volunteers over a period of four months. In collaboration with the Singapore SOKA Association, we delivered some 1.4 million kilograms of relief supplies worth more than S$3 million and S$300,000 in medical supplies to Sri Lanka, Aceh and Nias. Items included medical supplies, food, water, surgical gloves and masks, body bags, and blankets. NTUC Fairprice donated the bulk of our food supplies worth about S$400,000.

This was also the first time MR collaborated with the military, including the Singapore Air Force, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Singapore civil Defence Force (SCDF) to provide humanitarian aid overseas. Our medical volunteers worked alongside their counterparts from the SAF and SCDF in various field hospitals and 14 of them even got to ride on the Republic of Singapore Navy’s LST RSS Endeavour to Meulaboh. W We also received corporate support from Cathay Pacific Airways and Airmark Logistics which provided free freight services for our supplies. This was crucial in enabling us to purchase more aid supplies.

Support from the local community

In Singapore, 1,200 volunteers participated in an island-wide street collection to raise funds for subsequent relief missions and rehabilitation projects.

The great outpour of sympathy from Singaporeans was not restricted to cash donations but also those in kind. The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) allowed the complimentary use of its two school premises as collection centres – one at Lowland and another at Pasir Panjang. At the height of the tsunami response, the two Collection Centres became second homes to thousands of volunteers from all walks of life who spent countless hours receiving, sorting and packing clothes, food and medicines into carton boxes bound for the affected regions. The two Centres handled more than 1,500 tonnes of relief supplies worth around $4 million. The last container of relief supplies left the MR-SLA Collection Centre in July and brought a closure to the makeshift Collection Centres.

Of the 700 tonnes of bottled drinking water received at the Collection Centres, about half were distributed at the affected areas. The remainder was liquidated, with the proceeds used to purchase 10 units of water filter systems which produced 100,000 litres of clean water each day. The water filter systems not only fulfilled the original intent of the donors i.e. to provide safe drinking water to the victims, but it ensured a more sustainable source of clean and safe water for the beneficiaries whilst they rebuild their lives.

In an effort to allow the survivors to be reconnected with the outside world, MR collaborated with Mediacorp Radio to collect new and used transistor radios. These were later distributed amongst the displaced families living in and around Secata camp in Banda Aceh


MR carried out eleven post-disaster projects in Aceh and Nias Island, which were all completed well within the time frame provided by the Badan Rehabilitasi dan Reconstruksi NAD-NIAS (Reconstruction and RehabilitationAgency of Naggroe Aceh Darussalam and Nias or BRR) for all tsunami reconstruction projects to be completed by end-2008.

About Mercy Relief

Mercy Relief is a Singaporean humanitarian organisation which engages in both disaster relief and sustainable development programmes. It was established in 2003 as an independent non-governmental humanitarian charity responding to the human tragedies in Asia. Mercy Relief’s aid programme focuses on providing timely and effective assistance to disaster-stricken communities and has maintained the delivery of emergency aid within 72 hours from the point of appeal for assistance.  

In the past 12 years, Mercy Relief has disbursed over S$32 million in aid across 40 disaster relief and 53 sustainable development initiatives. Mercy Relief has impacted an aggregate of 2 million lives in 24 countries and areas, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal,  Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

For more information, you may call us at 6514 6322 or email

Share this article!