So far it has been reported that over 3,700 people have been killed and over 6,500 are injured. The earthquake, the worst to have hit in 81 years, measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale and struck the Kathmandu Valley at 6am on 25 April. More than 70 aftershocks have been felt and are still continuing, with further damage still a threat. It is estimated that 2 million people have been affected and 1.6 million displaced.
As search and rescue efforts continue, hospitals in the capital continue to function but are stretched to the limit. The humanitarian situation in towns and villages closer to the epicentre and beyond the Kathmandu valley is a major concern. Accessibility to and information from remote affected areas are major challenges, hampering search and rescue and relief efforts.
More information about the Red Cross relief efforts: http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/News/2015/April/After-the-earthquake-appeal-launched-for-Nepal
The Freemasons' Grand Charity has donated £20,000 in emergency aid following the severe tropical cyclone which hit Vanuatu in the South Pacific on Saturday, via the Red Cross
The cyclone has cause widespread destruction to one of the world's least developed countries. President Baldwin Lonsdale has appealed for immediate help, saying the storm has 'wiped out' all development of recent years and his country would have to rebuild 'everything'.
According to national statistics, 50% of the population are children, and therefore are more vulnerable to diseases.
There has been significant impact on livelihoods, with 13% of people already living below the basic poverty line. Over 80% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
The Freemasons' Grand Charity donation is being used towards delivering emergency assistance in Water/Sanitation, Health and Shelter.
This centrally administered service is for those who would like their donation for victims of the typhoon, to be part of a co-ordinated masonic response for longer term redevelopment efforts.
This announcement follows an earlier decision by the President of the Grand Charity to approve the payment of a grant of £50,000 to the British Red Cross in support of immediate emergency aid efforts in the Philippines.
Any individual Freemason or Lodge wishing to make a donation via the Council’s Relief Chest and in support of the longer-term recovery efforts can do so by sending a cheque payable to ‘The Freemasons’ Grand Charity’ to: Relief Chest Scheme, 60 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5AZ and noting that is to be paid into the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan Relief Chest No. E0129C.
Tax payers wishing The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to claim tax relief on their donations, must complete a Gift Aid Donation Form which is available from the website here or you can contact the Relief Chest department on 020 7395 9246.
For more information about the dedicated Relief Chest visit: http://grandcharity.org/pages/typhoon_haiyan_philippines.html
For questions concerning The Freemasons’ Grand Charity’s support for relief efforts in the Philippines, please contact Caroline McHale on: 020 7395 9388
For further information on making a donation to the Relief Chest please contact the Relief Chest Department: 020 7395 9246
Disaster relief in the Philippines
The President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has approved an Emergency Grant of £50,000 to the Red Cross to provide immediate disaster relief in the Philippines following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan
On Friday, 8th November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan known locally as Typhoon Yolanda, struck the east coastal provinces of Samar and Leyte. It then headed west, sweeping through six central Philippine islands. It was the strongest storm ever to make landfall, and one of the most powerful ever recorded, with reports of winds over 190mph which have caused widespread damage.
Millions of people have been affected. Amongst these are those already left homeless by the earthquake that struck in mid-October. It is estimated that 10,000 people have been killed. Many towns have been affected by the typhoon. Tacloban, Leyte Province, largely flattened by a massive storm surge. Guiuan, Samar Province with a population of 40,000 has been destroyed. Assessments in the far north of Cebu Province, had shown that some towns had suffered 80-90% damage and Baco, a city of 35,000 people in Oriental Mindoro Province was 80% under water.
On 11th November 2013, the President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity approved an emergency grant of £50,000 to the British Red Cross to provide immediate disaster relief across the region for much needed Hygiene Kits for 8,500 families.
An online fundraising page has also been set up by The Grand Charity for the benefit of the Philippines Disaster Relief Chest. Donations can be made online using a Debit or Credit card from: http://everydayhero.co.uk/event/E0129C
If you have any questions about this grant please contact the Grand Charity on: 020 7395 9388
For more information about the dedicated Relief Chest visit: http://grandcharity.org/pages/typhoon_haiyan_philippines.html
Flood relief for india
Heavy monsoon rains have caused flash floods in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Reports indicate 800 deaths, although unofficial claims suggest the death toll may be as high as 5,000. In the immediate aftermath, 97,000 people were rescued, with more than 1,250 houses reported as damaged or washed away. The flood is believed to have been the heaviest and deadliest in this region for 80 years.
The president of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, Richard Hone, has approved an immediate emergency grant of £35,000 to the Red Cross to assist with the recovery. Around 450 roads have been completely destroyed by 15 landslides, making it nearly impossible for people to move to safer areas. Laura Chapman, chief executive of the Grand Charity, stated: ‘It is hoped that this donation will bring help and assistance to the many people who need it in the affected region.’
The Emergency Grants for Disaster Relief is just one of the initiatives driven by the Grand Charity, which donates more than £2.5 million to national charities every year.
The Grand Secretary embarked on a nationwide media tour to dispel some myths and spark discussion about Freemasonry. Sophie Radice reports
Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, has just been on a tour the length and breath of England – not forgetting an interview with BBC Wales – that would exhaust any electioneering politician or celebrity trying to promote a new book. Over just four days, Nigel gave 40 back-to-back interviews to national and local newspapers and radio stations.
The publication of a new independent report The Future Of Freemasonry was the catalyst to generate discussion about the role of Freemasonry in the twenty-first century, while at the same time debunking certain persistent myths about the organisation. Both the tour and the report are the first stages in the build up to the 300th anniversary of the Freemasons in 2017 and to promote a better understanding of what Freemasonry means.
Nigel found it exhausting but exhilarating, particularly enjoying the direct contact he had with the public in the regional radio phone-in discussions: ‘People still believe certain things about the Freemasons, and of course the deep-seated myth that it is a secret society with unique business networking opportunities came up many times. It was really good to be able to say: “Look, would I be doing a tour of England if it was a secret society?”
‘I was able to tell people that the only time the Freemasons ever went underground was during the Second World War when more than 200,000 Freemasons were sent to the gas chambers by Hitler because he saw Freemasonry as a threat. Seeing Hitler’s persecution of Freemasonry, particularly after he invaded the Channel Islands, and fearing the invasion of England, members became alarmed,’ continues Nigel. ‘Many of the people I spoke to on the tour were very surprised to hear this.’
Nigel goes on to explain that Freemasonry then played an important role post-war for troops returning home, many of whom wanted to be with other men who had been through the same experience. ‘Many lodges were formed during the immediate post-war period. Perhaps too many because there was such a strong need for camaraderie and because of what had happened during the war. As a result they naturally became inward looking.’
need for belonging
While the number of lodges has now levelled out almost to its pre-war period, the sense of brotherly support remains in the 250,000 members in England and Wales. Among its conclusions, The Future Of Freemasonry report states that ‘there is a timeless need for a sense of affiliation and belonging’. The report also emphasises the importance that Freemasons place on helping others.
‘The only requisite we have for joining the Freemasons is that they are people of integrity, honesty, fairness and kindness who believe in a supreme being,’ explains Nigel. ‘We welcome people of all races and religions with different social and economic backgrounds. This kind of openness, and the fact that Freemasonry is a non-religious and non-political organisation means that the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Israel is a Palestinian, and that is because the decency and morality of our members is of paramount importance.’
When Nigel told people he met on his tour that the Freemasons were the biggest charitable givers after The National Lottery, donating £30 million last year, he was met with incredulity. ‘These very large contributions come from Freemasons’ own efforts rather than from street collections or any other type of external fundraising. Because the Freemason does not ask for thanks or reward it means that very few people know about our charitable donations, even though they are on such a large scale. For instance, we are the main donors to The Royal College of Surgeons, funding much of their research and donate generously to the Red Cross. I know it seems a small thing but it is something that I am particularly proud of. We are the people that provide teddies for all children going into surgery, to comfort them in that difficult moment.’
Questions about Freemasonry rituals, rolled-up trouser legs and secret handshakes were well prepared for. Nigel explained that he had never come across the secret handshake but was glad to shed light on the rituals as a series of ‘one-act plays’ performed by members as they moved up the ranks of the Freemasons. ‘I was happy to tell interviewers and those ringing in to radio discussion programmes that there was nothing sinister about it. I think that rituals are very important to a sense of belonging and our members thoroughly enjoy taking part in these performances and memorising their lines. They provide a distinctive character to joining and moving through the ranks of the Freemasons – our aim isn’t to make Freemasonry bland but to make the public more aware of what we do.’
Even in recent memory, Freemasonry has had to deal with discrimination against members. ‘On some job application forms there was the question, “Are you a member of a secret society, e.g. the Freemasons?” We got that removed by the European Court of Human Rights, but we still have to work hard to make sure that our members are not wrongly judged, or feel that it is something they have to hide. As the report shows, our members really value the feeling of belonging to an organisation that contributes to society and is a part of their life that they can be proud of. Freemasonry is more relevant than ever – in a competitive and fragmented society it provides a combination of friendship and structure.’
In December 2011, The Freemasons’ Grand Charity agreed an emergency grant of £15,000 to the Red Cross following a typhoon that pounded the southern Philippines, bringing heavy rains and strong winds, which resulted in massive flooding and landslides.
More than 1,000 people were killed and the Philippines government declared a further thousand missing. Approximately 338,000 people were affected by the disaster and more than 10,000 homes destroyed. Experts estimated it would take up to six months to build temporary homes for the 60,000 who were made homeless as a result of the storm.
Tropical Storm Sendong was the 19th tropical cyclone to lash the Philippines during 2011. Most of the victims were asleep in the middle of the night when raging floodwaters pounded their homes following 12 hours of heavy rain.
Aid agencies have appealed for funds to help those affected. The United Nations is seeking £18.2m from donors to help provide water and sanitation to storm victims.
If you would like to contribute, please visit www.redcross.org.ph/donatenow
An estimated three million people have been affected by the natural disasters across the Asia Pacific Region, and Freemasons' Grand Charity President Grahame Elliott, has approved an emergency grant of £50,000 to the Red Cross, to support their relief work there.
Typhoon Ketsana hit the
On 29 September, an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter Scale hit the Samoan and
The Grand Charity’s grant will help to fund the distribution of emergency relief items, provide clean water, sanitation, healthcare and shelter as well as help rebuild people’s livelihoods.