The Palu-Donggala earthquake happened at 5.02pm, local time, Friday, 28th September, 2018. It was a shallow quake, with its centre at a depth of 10 kilometers. Registered on the Richter Scale at 7.4, it caused a tsunami, liquefaction and landslides which created an horrific disaster for the people. The four districts that were most effected are Palu City, the Regency of Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong.
According to the BNPB, the Indonesian National Disaster Body, as well as the extraordinary amount of environmental damage, 2,256 people were killed, and as of 21st October, 1,309 are still missing, the wounded number 4,612. Moreover, 223,751 people have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in 122 refugee camps. The disaster has caused physical damage on a massive scale. The Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Team of the BNPB estimates the monetary cost of the losses to be more that 13.82 trillion rupiahs. Five development sectors have suffered great losses: Housing: 7.95 trillion rupiahs, infrastructure: 701.8 billion rupiahs, economic production: 1.66 trillion rupiahs, social welfare: 3.13 trillion rupiahs, and communications/roads: 378 billion rupiahs.
Having succeeded getting a plane ticket, Sr. Ruth Mulyani, SSpS, a pharmacist, finally was able to fly to Palu on 7th October. Ruth worked as a volunteer health worker, together with members of the Health Service Team of St. Maria Parish, Palu. As well, she collated the initial data re the effects of the disaster. She also identified the networks with which the SSpS and the SVD of Indonesia/Timor-Leste could cooperate to provide ongoing humanitarian aid. On 14th October, Fr, Marcel Vande (SVD-IDE) went to Palu. On the following day Bro. Vincent Koi (SVD-IDR) arrived in Palu. Their primary task was to make a rapid assessment which could be used as the basis for ongoing humanitarian intervention.
Sr. Ruth Mulyani SSpS (Yellow Shirt)
and Health Service Team of St. Maria Parish, Palu
In addition, these two SVDs helped distribute aid to victims and survivors of the disaster, working with Caritas Indonesia. Sr. Ruth returned to Surabaya on 17th October, while Fr. Vande and Bro. Vincent returned to Jakarta on 21st October. The SSpS & SVD Provincials/Regionals of Indonesia and Timor-Leste held a joint meeting in Jakarta on 23th-24th October. Having studied the rapid assessment, they decided to give help by providing essential needs such as food and housing-tents, noting that the rainy season was about to begin. “We call on the solidarity support of our parishioners, our institutes, and those in our work units. Also, we call on our communities and all our members to be willing to make sacrifices for this very important task,” said Fr. Lukas Jua, the SVD-IDE Provincial, at the meeting.
In addition to accessibility, a criterion for choosing a community to be helped is the lack of attention presently being given by government or other humanitarian bodies. The communities chosen are villages in the Donggala Regency, namely four villages in the district of Sindue Tomusabora. They are Kaliburu, Kaliburu Kata, Batusuya Induk and Batusuya Go’o. As almost all the inhabitants of these villages are Muslim, this is a good opportunity for grass-roots interfaith dialogue. Fr. Paul Rahmat, SVD, Director of Vivat Indonesia, will coordinate the overall SSpS-SVD Indonesia/Timor-Leste humanitarian response. Fr, Marcel Vande (SVD-IDE) and Fr. Piter Dile Bataona (SVD-IDT) will coordinate the response at the local level in Palu and Donggala.
By Fr. Eman Embu
JPIC Commission Coordinator (SVD-IDE)