On the evening of Friday, September 28 (local time), the central Sulawesi area of Indonesia was hit by a magnitude 7.4 earthquake which triggered a 10-to-20-foot tsunami along the coastal areas. The Indonesian Disaster Management Agency says that dozens of buildings collapsed during the quake and ensuing deluge, and the current death toll stands at over 1200. Almost 50,000 people have been displaced from their homes.
The sheer destructive power of earthquake-driven tsunamis is almost impossible to describe.
Thousands of people in Indonesia have once again been struck by the deadly combination of earthquake and tsunami, even as parts of the country are still in long-term recovery from the 2004 tsunami. News reports tell of “terrified survivors huddled in a devastated city rocked by aftershocks, and of entire houses being sucked into the ground, as the full scale of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami disaster begins to emerge.” Overwhelmed by the number of dead, hundreds of bodies were buried in mass graves to prevent the outbreak of disease as critical transportation and communication infrastructures were damaged, impeding the efforts of rescue and recovery workers and the receipt of emergency aid. NPR reports that “Thousands of people began camping at the airport over the weekend, hoping to leave. But the airport has been operating at partial capacity since it reopened. And as they wait for a chance to fly out, people are also enduring heat of more the 90 degrees, with little to sustain them.” Electricity continues to be out in the area; portable generators are being airlifted in but the damage to the local airport has slowed that effort.
Our partner, ACT Alliance, is on the ground and currently accessing the damage and coordinating relief efforts. They note that thousands of persons are in a “desperate situation, with many unmet vital humanitarian needs such as access to sufficient food , safe shelter and basic non-food items, basic health services and facilities, safe drinking water, as well as sanitation and hygiene infrastructure.” Together, with Indonesian officials and other agencies, Week of Compassion will work with partners, including ACT Alliance, in helping distribute emergency assistance in a variety of forms in the days and weeks ahead.
May we lift this situation before God in prayer, especially for the people impacted by this disaster, for the tireless first responders, and for all who will offer help and hope in the coming months and years:
“O God of all who are weary, all who are hurting, all who are grieving, we give you thanks for all those responding to assist our brothers and sisters in Indonesia as they deal yet again with the calamity of earthquake and tsunami. Be with those who are hurting, those who mourn, those who have lost homes and loved ones; hold them up, comfort them, never leave them. Amen”
Life is Warmer, Safer, and Healthier in Eastern Europe
Warfare and strife have too long been the companions of many who live in Eastern Europe where poverty is rampant. In Georgia, Moldova, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, too many children study in under-heated classrooms and learn by candlelight; people use polluting and health-damaging fuels for heating and cooking; and women bear the burden of food preparation, cooking and heating the home, which negatively impacts their health, and limits educational and livelihood opportunities. Many remote rural areas still lack electricity and adequate sanitation services. But life for many is now warmer, safer, and healthier thanks to Week of Compassion partner Church World Service’s Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) program.
One of those families for whom life is now a little brighter is the Vladusic family, who received a new solar cell system. The family lives in the village of Donji Tiskovac in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The family returned to their ancestral home in 2004 from Serbia, where they fled during the war. In Tiskovac, there is no electricity. Dragan is the only son in the small family of three and is the only child in the village. Dragan travels 60 kilometers to school and back each day for his only connection to peers and learning. By providing electricity to people in rural areas like Tiskovac, CWS has helped the Vladusic family and other families to stay on their land and prosper from it and for their children to live and learn in decent conditions.
The RET program has now trained over 600 people in constructing and maintaining renewable energy technologies including solar dryers, solar electricity production, solar house heating systems, fuel-efficient stoves and water heating. Other initiatives include better sanitation, sustainable agriculture, soil and water protection, safer waste management, and collecting and drying wild fruits and medicinal plants. In four schools and summer camps in Moldova (the poorest country in Europe, where almost 50% of the inhabitants live below the poverty line), solar water heating systems were installed that benefited almost 1800 children. Families in Bosnia and Herzegovina received solar cells that made possible electricity and adequate and sanitary hot water.
A priority in all areas of CWS’ work is to empower vulnerable women (heads of households, unemployed with little/no access to other income generating activities). More than 60% of beneficiaries are women. The burden of collecting firewood and heating water largely falls to women, who care for the basic needs of the households. Labor-saving devices are clearly a priority for rural women, given the inordinate amount of time and energy that they expend on household work. Fuel efficient stoves and solar water heaters provide significant time savings to women.
Thanks to your gifts to Week of Compassion, life for many families is (literally!) brighter, warmer, and less trapped by poverty.