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Sydney Salesian's charity to open Aceh orphanage

Youth Off The Streets (YOTS), headed by Fr Chris Riley SDB, has signed an agreement with the 30-million member Muhammadiyah to set up a centre for children on the outskirts of Aceh's provincial capital, Banda Aceh.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the charity had been accused of trying to convert Muslim children has admitted it had been naive but said it has agreed with one of Indonesia's largest Islamic groups to set up an orphanage in tsunami-shattered Aceh.

Before signing, Riley admitted he had been unaware of religious sensitivities in Aceh, the only Indonesian province with sharia law, when he first arrived with a plan for an orphanage.

The plan drew fire from supporters of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, who accused Riley of trying to convert Muslim children to Christianity.

"I must admit when I went into Banda Aceh I knew little about it, so I was pretty naive," Riley told AAP before signing.

But he said he was delighted to work with Muhammadiyah on the project and had been amazed at how quickly arrangements for the centre had come together.

"All we want to do here is help a bit. And, this partnership has ensured that the kids will be kept in their own culture, with their own religions, spirituality, and we're just going to help basically Muhammadiyah, who are employing the Aceh people up there," Riley said.

Under the agreement, YOTS will provide financial backing for the centre and send volunteer medical teams, halal food and equipment to a disused building in the hills outside Banda Aceh.

Charity deal to open Aceh orphanage (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 8/2/05)

Youth Off the Streets | Asia Tsunami Appeal

Catholic Mission Australia to visit Sri Lanka (CathNews 7/2/05)
Vatican official's assurance that aid agencies don't proselytise (CathNews 2/2/05)
Caritas thank you to tsunami appeal donors (CathNews 27/1/05)
Caritas distributes Muslim prayer kits for Eid celebration (CathNews 24/1/05)
Total Catholic aid to Tsunami recovery effort now at $500m (CathNews 21/1/05)
Caritas Australia Tsunami Appeal now at $8m (CathNews 20/1/05)
Caritas Australia Asia Earthquake Appeal tops $8 million (Caritas 19/1/05)
Australia remembers tsunami victims (CathNews 17/1/05)
Australians to remember tsunami victims (CathNews 14/1/05)
Inter-faith prayer for tsunami victims in Phuket (CathNews 7/1/05
Stronger faith builds in the wake of disaster (CathNews 6/1/05)
Australian Church sends prayers and support to tsunami victims (CathNews 4/1/05)

Caritas' Tsunami Aid Fund Nears $320 Million (Zenit 6/2/05)
Catholic Mission Australia to visit Sri Lanka (Catholic Mission 4/2/05)
Sea apostolate working for tsunami-stricken fishermen, says Card Fumio Hamao ( 4/2/05)
Beni Juliawan - Jesuit Refugee Service: Eyewitness report from Tapaktuan, Indonesia (Independent Catholic News 4/2/05)
My God, My God - Why? (Kairos Catholic Journal 8/2/05)
Please stand by us: A Bishop's account of the tsunami (Kairos Catholic Journal 8/2/05)

9 Feb 2005