02 May 2011 SSA Participates in Mercy Relief’s First Humanitarian Seminar
On 21 May 2011, 10 SSA representatives participated in a humanitarian seminar on “Natural Disasters & Humanity” organised by Mercy Relief (MR). The seminar was MR’s very first, with the aim of furthering their understanding of the psychology of the communities in times of disasters, thereby enhancing their relief efforts.
At the opening address, SSA General Director Ong Bon Chai (who also sits on the MR board as vice chairman), cited SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s words of wisdom which reads: “The heart of one person moves another’s. If one’s hearts is closed, then the doors of other people’s hearts will also shut tight. On the other hand, someone who makes all those around him or her into allies, bathing them in the sunlight of spring, will be treasured by all.” Mr Ong elucidated how this also works with Nature: “Nature gives as how it is taken. As such, humanity needs to be conscientious of its treatment towards the environment. Whether we are humanitarian responders; religious, civic or intellectual institutions; or just an individual, each of us have a role, a responsibility and the capacity to help lessen the impact of any backlash.”
Presenting the arduous reality confronting humanity as “great waves of change”, Mr Ong went on to the heart of the theme of the seminar by asking: “So, what spurs humanity to go beyond itself to reach out to its less fortunate fellowmen? In a calamity, what or who can help the victims to recover from their traumas?”
In response to this question, three eminent speakers from various faiths—His Eminence Archbishop Nicholas Chia, Venerable Master Ching Kung and Imam Habib Hasan Al-Attas— were invited to share about how to interpret and embrace natural disasters from the perspectives of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam respectively, and the role played by religion in the aftermath of calamities. A Question and Answer session followed.
Attended by Guest-Of-Honour, Minister K Shanmugam and some 200 guests, including leaders from the various faiths, civic and governmental organisations, the event served as another step mounted in strengthening the fabric of religious harmony in Singapore.