Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS) was founded in 2001 and works to help people living in one of Asia’s poorest countries where over one third of the population live in poverty. Inspired by the Catholic Social Teaching principle of “Option for the Poor”, KMSS is established and mandated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) as its social arm to serve the poor and the needy.
The specific areas of the Church’s mission give attention to integral human development, realisation of justice and peace, environmental protection, education, HIV/AIDS, humanitarian assistance and emergency relief services.
Caritas Mynamar Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Emergency Response provides emergency relief following natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes and cyclones, as well as long-term recovery programmes that rebuilds homes and schools, repairs infrastructure, protects livelihoods and builds the capacity of local organisations.
In 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated the Ayeyarwady and Yangon Regions of Myanmar, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, leaving more than two million people homeless and causing $10 billion total damage. Caritas Myanmar working in partnership with other Caritas members intervened to provide short and long-term assistance to distribute food, rebuild and repair homes, construct wells to restore safe drinking water, provide grants for small business and livelihood opportunities for non-farm based livelihoods for the landless poor, and counselling and training for villagers to respond to the psycho-social needs of their communities.
Caritas Myanmar has a range of programmes that include agriculture projects such as vegetable gardens and fruit tree plantations, pre-school teacher training and management training for school-committee members, capacity building for young people to build skills in organising and managing community development projects and health education sessions to distribute mosquito nets, toilet bowls and safe drinking water.
Caritas Myanmar programmes address the pressing concern of the 240,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Myanmar, the second largest population of sufferers in South East Asia. Its prevention and education programmes help people living with HIV to be integrated into the workplace.
KMSS National Office (KMSS-National Office) is located in Yangon and has 16 Caritas diocesan offices.
Caritas Myanmar is affiliated with Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Asia and receives support from Caritas Italy, Caritas Switzerland and Caritas Australia, which support 11 programmes that focus on disaster risk reduction, emergency assistance, HIV/AIDS, and water and sanitation.