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Humaneity Magazine | March 2010

A taste of humanitarian issues
An inaugural humanitarian forum hopes to bring awareness and compassion to the public and bring about compassion.

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he Singapore public got a taste of humanitarian and environmental issues during the inaugural Asia Humanitarian Forum (AHF), which was held in January. The three-day event showcased organizations that are tackling these issues, and rallied action and funds for humanity projects. Jonathan How, director of Café Diplo (www. cafediplo.org) who was the brains behind AHF, said “The mission is to bring together compassionate hearts and available resources within Asia for global humanitarian and environmental benefit. It will be an annual event with planned year-round satellite activities for a wider reach. Plans to take AHF to ASEAN and other parts of Asia are in the pipeline.” His organisation is a Singapore-based social

enterprise whose primary mission is to engage in peacebuilding work in both conflict and nonconflict areas. The free event had film screenings including the story of Peace One Day by Jeremy Gilley (www.peaceoneday.org) where from an idea by one individual, it is now a day – September 21 – which is being marked by three million people around the world and “Another Way of Seeing Things” by Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International, who has been spreading the words of peace worldwide. There was also a book reading of “Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West” written by Zoya Phan, an ethnic Karen refugee from Burma and a child of conflict, and on the side, there were a number of exhibitors from the humanitarian scene.

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Events
There were panel discussions on caring for the needy with Vivian Claire Liu, founding director of PhilanthropyWorks, our publisher and president of The Tiger Foundation (now called Humaneity Foundation) Mark Philpott, and forum organizer, How. The last day was left as a networking session. How explained, “A forum about humanity should be for everyone. The word ‘Asia’ is there [in the name of the forum] to indicate that the initiative originated from within that region. Although the primary target audience is the people of Asia, the message is a universal one. Many in the world are apathetic and dispassionate about humanitarian and environmental needs beyond their comfort zones. The AHF hopes to fill this social gap.”

Humaneity Magazine | March 2010

Speaker Liu from PhilanthropyWorks said, “Kudos to Jonathan [How] for pulling this off, given that it was a largely one-man show till the finale. I think the topics discussed are important and pertinent, and I hope AHF expands to involve a larger audience as well as a larger partnership base so that it can be even

On this page: Top: Cafe Diplo Singspirator Syltra Lee performing at AHF. Bottom: Jonathan How with Krishna Gopal from Amurt, an NGO.

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Humaneity Magazine | March 2010

On this page: Top: A panel discussion. (from left to right) AHF’s Jonathan How, Vivian Claire Liu from PhilanthropyWorks and Humaneity Magazine’s Mark Philpott. Bottom: The Q&A session.

more effective.” Her organisation is Asia’s first philanthropy advisory and execution boutique, advising foundations on helping the poorest and most neglected in an effective, holistic and collaborative way. Added Heng Wee Ling from Sama Development & Welfare Project, an exhibitor at the event, “AHF was a useful platform to showcase and raise awareness of our healthcare and education project for Sama village, located in the Nubri valley in Nepal. As this initiative started just last year, it had been very encouraging to see many people take interest in this project because of AHF. Some actually come forward to offer their assistance, expertise and suggestions, which was very valuable. I hope AHF can continue in the years to come so that more non-profit organizations and community projects can create awareness for their worthy causes and passionate volunteers can find opportunities to contribute back to society.” More positive feedback came from Saira Rajan from Riverkids Project, another exhibitor (who

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is featured in this issue): “The best part of the event was interacting with interested visitors who took pains to understand the many causes and consequences of child trafficking. Many shared their own experiences and gave insights into the social evils. I am confident that such events contribute to raising awareness and understanding in the society in the future.” The event was co-organised by the United Nations Youth Association of Singapore.

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