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Foo Jie Ying
Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014

Singapore

Big hall, small haul

The New Paper | Foo Jie Ying | Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014

Events company Everybody's Production organised a charity concert to raise funds for relief efforts in Gaza, but the turnout was dismal.

They went online to garner support for a charity concert for the people of Gaza.

Many said they would attend.

But it was a dismal turnout in the first hours of the concert yesterday afternoon at the UE Convention Centre at Changi Business Park. Called the Aid for Gaza Charity Concert, it was organised by events company Everybody's Production.

They had booked a hall meant for a thousand for the free concert. Initially, fewer than 100 turned up to watch more than a dozen acts. As of press time, more than $4,000 was raised through Mercy Relief's phone lines.

Mercy Relief is one of the organisations supporting the concert.

GOOD CAUSE

Ms Eda Norsanty Puteh, 48, who attended the concert, said: "Other than to support the band, I also came to support the charity cause.

"There could be some speculation as to whether there is a political agenda, but to me, it's just to support humanity and the lives that were lost in the war," said the teacher.

She manages one of the bands that performed at the concert.

It has been challenging for the organisers. A week before the concert, there was a sudden change of location.

It was originally planned for the open field at Block 142, Bedok Reservoir Road, and Member of Parliament for the area, Mr Pritam Singh, was supposed to be the guest of honour.

But they could not secure a licence for the open field and had to scramble to get the hall at UE Convention Centre.

Mr Ali Najib, 21, who owns Everybody's Production, said he had to adhere to a stringent checklist given by Mercy Relief. For instance, they were not allowed to spread any religious or political ideology, or display any flags.

Performers at the concert had to sign an agreement with similar conditions, he added.

But they slipped up with one poster, which showed a boy hoisting a Palestinian flag. The poster was stuck to the collection box at the hall.

In total, Mercy Relief has raised $400,000 in its Gaza Relief fund. Collections will continue until Sept 30.

On Aug 4, the aid group distributed $250,000 worth of aid to Gaza. It includes food aid worth $60,000 and medical supplies worth $190,000, including a fully-equipped ambulance to be deployed by its Palestinian partner agency.

Mercy Relief's director of corporate outreach and support, Mr Jaffar Mydin, said the humanitarian organisation decided to send the funds raised directly to its ground partners in Gaza.

"As with all disaster relief response, we will raise the funds, buy the supplies, then disburse them.

"But for Gaza, in view of the safety and security concerns, we are unable to make our way there yet. As long as we confirm it's safe enough, Mercy Relief will send a team down."

On its website, the aid group said it has been monitoring the situation in Gaza since the armed conflict started on July 8. Mercy Relief has been working closely with its ground partners - the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Palestinian Wefaq Association.

fjieying@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 8, 2014.
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