ACN News, Friday, 16th May 2008 – BURMA (Myanmar)
ACN gives help to Burma
“The Lord is close to us through you at this moment of suffering and darkness” Archbishop Charles Bo of Rangoon, Burma
By John Newton
CATHOLIC charity Aid to the Church in Need has announced an urgent aid package after Burma was ravaged by a cyclone that left more than 1.5 million people destitute.
Responding to appeals from Archbishop Charles Bo, of Rangoon (Yangon) – where the death toll runs into the thousands – ACN agreed yesterday (Thursday, 15th May) to despatch more than $48,000 to provide water, food and other help.
The aid will be spent in the Archdiocese of Rangoon and the Diocese of Pathein, south of the capital – two of the worst affected areas.
In response, Archbishop Bo said: “From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to express our gratitude and thanks to all of you for the messages of concern, prayers and sympathies for our suffering people.”
He continued: “All your prayers, concerns and desire to be of help for our people are deeply appreciated.”
Bishop Bo described how their faith was sustaining them through these difficult times.
He said: “We do believe and hope that the good Lord is close to us through all of you especially at this moment of suffering and darkness.”
Many of the buildings in Archbishop Bo’s diocese have been badly damaged, including the cathedral and numerous churches and convents. In both Rangoon and Pathein, ACN will help to rebuild structures which were hit by the storm.
ACN’s announcement comes after desperate efforts by the charity to contact bishops and other religious leaders affected by the cyclone.
Bad communications meant that for days ACN could not get its pledges of support through to the troubled region.
The break through came yesterday (Thursday, 15th May) when the charity received a message from Archbishop Bo.
ACN has also been in close contact with Catholics in Bangkok, Thailand, who have been providing aid for those affected by the hurricane.
They confirmed that help is still needed but with continuing communications problems aid workers were struggling to access the affected areas.
While international charities, such as the Catholic aid agency Caritas, have flown medicine, food and equipment into Burma, getting it to those in need has been complicated by bad weather and tight government controls.
Burma’s Irrawaddy delta, which includes the city of Rangoon, was devastated by Hurricane Nargis, a category four on Saturday (3rd May).
Reports say more than 100,000 people have died, and at least 1.5 million people have been left homeless.
Burma is a priority country for ACN, and last year more than $1.12 million was sent to the country for a wide range of projects, including the construction of churches and formation for priests and sisters.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 45 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information, contact please contact the Sydney office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: email@example.com or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 6245 Blacktown DC NSW 2148. Web:www.aidtochurch.org