The scene of desolation stood in stark contrast to the positivity of the people. The team was welcomed with a smile and with the typical Indonesian hospitality. A man who had reopened his shop on top of his collapsed roof symbolized the way people are trying to restore some form of normality. The survival mentality is admirable, but much more is needed to get these people back on their feet. Private organizations and the local army are doing an amazing job, but organized help on a national level with the focus on sustainable self-reliance may be the better route to go.
After the devastating earthquakes in Lombok the past 3 weeks, Lombok was struck again today. In the past 24 hours five earthquakes between a 5 and 7 magnitude hit the island. My four children (10, 12, 14 and 15) and I were volunteering at the children’s shelter Peduli Anak when the first earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude struck the island on Sunday August 5th. All 80 children managed to escape unharmed, but the shelter homes and kitchen were destroyed. A terrifying experience, but we decided to stay and help the already traumatized children who are now all homeless.
Today a Peduli Anak team traveled 200 kilometers by car through the north of Lombok, the epicenter of most of the earthquakes. The team drove from village to village delivering goods and mattresses where it was most needed. Most of these villages had not received any help yet due to the dangerous road conditions. The closer they got to the epicenter the more severe the damage got. It became harder to recognize structures of houses in the rubble of concrete and red bricks. Entire villages have become uninhabitable due to the destruction. Improvised tents could be seen everywhere. A mosque without a dome, a begging child on the side of the road, a collapsed school building and a mother not sure how to comfort and care for her baby.
Besides the visible material damage, there is also the psychological damage that lies beneath the smiles. The fear that our team saw in people’s eyes today, is the same fear they see in the eyes of the children at Peduli Anak. This non-profit organization offers a home to underprivileged children who have been abused, neglected and exploited. At the moment all 80 children sleep in tents and their school is also housed in tents. “We want nothing more than to offer them a safe home, but as long as the earth continues to tremble that seems an unachievable task”, says cofounder Chaim Fetter. He emphasis that the best way to support Peduli Anak is by donating money. “All the money will be spent on the rebuilding of the destroyed shelter homes of the children”. Donation can be made via www.pedulianak.org
* Interview with BBC news: https://www.facebook.com
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For more information or questions please contact Boukje van den Bosch in NY (914 525 0635) or Chaim Fetter (+62 81 33 99 00 524 / email@example.com) on the ground at Peduli Anak in Lombok. BK / IM )