Mercy Relief held the observance of the 4th World Humanitarian Day (WHD), a day designated by the UN as a “special recognition to all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause and those who have lost their lives in the course of duty..”, at the Tanah Merah Country Club today. This year’s Observance featured the pioneer batch of 34 Singapore Polytechnic students from the Diploma-Plus Certificate Programme in Humanitarian Affairs who received their notes of completion from the Guest-of-Honour, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
1) DiplomaPlus Certificate Programme in Humanitarian Affairs
The 2-year Course is a joint initiative of the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) and Mercy Relief (MR), in an effort to mould the next generation of humanitarians in Singapore, so as to be able to play a proactive and effective part in serving the regional humanitarian needs. This is essentially crucial with Asia witnessing and experiencing an increase in the occurrence of natural disasters over the last decade. SP’s Principal Tan Hang Cheong shared with beam, “The goal is to provide practical, hands-on training to students and professionals about the multidisciplinary nature of humanitarian assistance and international relief and development. I am extremely proud of our pioneer batch of students and wish to congratulate them on the successful completion of this program.”
Chief Executive Hassan Ahmad, who also lectures the students and shares with them his first-hand experiences, said, “It is imperative that we start planning for the future now, especially with the increasing occurrence of natural disasters in Asia. Mercy Relief found a priceless partner in SP for thedevelopment and running of the Programme, to groom the next generation of humanitarians who would be able to meet the growing demands and challenges. It is useful to have a partner who shares this vision and conviction.
The 3-module Course focused on inter alia the principles, philosophies, mechanics, dynamics, expectations and challenges of the humanitarian sector. It also includes overseas practical assignments for sustainable development, disaster risk mitigation and post-disaster relief works. Three best-performing students received the Mercy Relief Book Prizes and the top student, Miss Kohgilavani d/o Selvakumaran, was presented with the Abdullah Tarmugi Book Prize. In her Valedictorian speech, Kohgilavani highlighted, “Apart from the many essential lessons and topics discussed, the Course has given me a lasting reminder to exercise my objectivity muscle by emphasizing the need to reflect, question and ponder. In the humanitarian field, it is crucial to see the bigger picture, without being blinded to the small details.
2) Smart phone applications for humanitarian stakeholders
In another significant effort to enhance the capacity of the humanitarian sector, Mercy Relief worked with Apostrophe Digital to develop a new smart phone application for Android to facilitate the wider and speedier information reach to its stakeholders and the public, through the digital and social media platform. The Android application was launched at the Event and added to the Singapore NGO’s existing iPhone application which was earlier launched at the 2nd WHD in 2010. The launch was in line with the UN’s 2012 global campaign which uses social media as a tool to engage one billion people through social media so they can pledge a humanitarian action.
MR Chairman T K Udairam said, “For Mercy Relief, the World Humanitarian Day is not only about acknowledging the frontline humanitarians, but it is equally deserving to the tens of thousands who have played their parts in their own ways to help the really needy, whether through the giving of donations, helping to raise funds, packing of relief supplies or even spreading awareness on the plight of the crisis-stricken.”
He added, “With the launch of the new Android application, to add to Mercy Relief’s existing iPhone application, we would now be able to have a quicker reach to our stakeholders and the public. We must thank Apostrophe Digital for the design and development of this application and the Information Development Agency (IDA) for the useful grant.”
3) Religious and social institutions support latest typhoons and floods relief efforts
In support of MR’s ongoing relief efforts for the Eastern Asia Monsoon (Philippines and DPR Korea) and the Floods &Conflicts in Myanmar, the Chen Su Lan Trust ($150,000), Singapore Soka Association ($10,000) and MSE Angullia Trust ($10,000) presented their contributions totaling $$170,000.
4) Corporations doing their bit for humanitarian
HSL Managing Director Lim Choo Leng said, “HSL Constructor has found, in Mercy Relief, a true and dedicated humanitarian outfit, whom we are full of admiration. Despite their tenderness in age and smallness in size, they have continuously and constantly displayed great tenacity, swift in their response, and become that wonderful unifying platform for many others, including HSL, to be relevant and useful towards humanity.”
This year’s WHD observance was put together with a charity golf event held earlier in the day which was organized byHSL Constructor. The Singapore marine engineering company has been a constant supporter of the humanitarian cause and has had more than 100 of its staff involved in Mercy Relief’s previous fundraising and overseas volunteer expedition. HSL had brought together its network of corporate partners and raised over $220,000 to help Mercy Relief strengthen its resource capacity. 3 pieces of the late digital artist Martin See Tho’s artworks fetched $23,000 for MR.
Mr Lim continued, “While we are able to chip in our modest and occasional contributions to Mercy Relief, we know that donations are only useful when they are effectively utilised by the chosen charity. And for that, I congratulate Mercy Relief for instilling the confidence and trust in us through your immaculate works. And that is why, today, we have brought together our partners and friends, not only to exercise our skills through the golf game for better camaraderie, but in tandem, ventilate our compassion through philanthropic pledges. Mercy Relief has been the pride of Singaporeans, and the joy and relief to millions of needy Asians.”
Leaders of the main faiths in Singapore led a customary prayer for the continued safety and security of aid workers in discharging their duties. A special performance by internationally-renowned strings specialist, the T’ang Quartet, added gloss to the evening’s ambience.
Mercy Relief (MR) lost one of its Singaporean humanitarian tribesmen on 31 August 2009 whilst on deployment to Zambales, Philippines in response to Typhoon Morakot.
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.
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