Reaching out to the people of Palu

Creating Love in Solidarity

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake which hit the city of Palu on 28 September 2018 triggered a huge tsunami.  Waves up to 3m (10ft) high swept through Palu on Sulawesi island, causing massive infrastructure damage and loss of life and serious injury to many thousands of people.

When some degree of access was restored to the city, a Good Shepherd team of six members travelled in stages to Palu to offer support and assistance.  

 

Photo above

Psychosocial Activities - the children proud to show what they have drawn.

Other Photos - 2018 Recovery and Support in Palu, Indonesia

The Initiative

Sr. Chatarina Supatmiyati as Province Leader took the initiative to participate in the rescue effort in global solidarity with the people in Palu. Chatarina networked with Carina Indonesia and the Diocese of Manado because Palu is in the ecclesiastical region of the Diocese of Manado.

A group of six formed the Good Shepherd team.  Sr. Theresia Anita Yuniastuti, Maria Anggelina (lay mission partner from Batam), Sr. Goretti Samosir, Sr. Veronica Endah, Sr. Caecilia Supriyati and Tjandra Hartati (lay mission partner from Jakarta). The team is working/has worked for various periods of time, and is contributing to recovery work such as psycho social response to trauma, logistics, and medical response.

We share personal reflections from three members of the team.

 

Story of Sister Goretti Samosir

I have seen houses damaged, the ground is terribly chaotic. I have heard people questioning God, self and nature. I have seen tears in many eyes which were not able to hold the sadness of saying goodbye to loved ones who disappeared during the disaster. The people need the space to express their feelings, they need support to be aware of the reality of what has happened. And they need the courage to receive God's mercy through others.

I am working with Perdhaki - medical association of Indonesia and helping in the area of trauma healing.  The group includes a physician, doctor, nurse and pharmacy worker.  (Written on 1 November 2018)

Ivon and I went together with the medical team to visit 1 or 2 villages.  We also arranged to meet youth in the school to conduct a trauma healing program.  We sent a questionnaire beforehand, asking them to describe their situation before, during and after the earthquake, asking them about the hope and trauma which they experience.  We encouraged them to express by drawing or writing the story.  With the women, when the medical team were doing the health assessment, the people who were waiting were encouraged to do simple crafting such as making brooches.  While doing all of this they told their experiences of the earthquake, tsunami, liquefaction and landslides.

Today we are in the area where the Tsunami hit.  Doctors had not yet reached this area.  Last night people were arriving with serious sicknesses. The distances are a challenge.  Yesterday it took us 5 hours to reach this area. Today we will go to the farthest area and hope to serve 2 villages.   We hope the weather will be good.

I was touched by the story of people waiting for 1 year to have an opportunity to see a doctor when there is only one doctor for 212 villages in such a remote area. The road is not at all good, with many sliding points.

We have listened to women in tears, after losing their children and houses, though some men were not able to express their feelings so as to release their trauma.  It is important not to discourage the expression of grief when they lose their wife or children.  It is painful to read the stories of the youth as they describe how they felt to see the nature and people and themselves struggling suddenly, without warning.  It was very traumatic for them all.

The invitation to us all....

I invite each of us to care for them... do what you can... pray for them... the atmosphere, the air, the spirit will carry our attention to heal their trauma... 

 

Story of Maria Anggelina

As a Good Shepherd lay partner in the mission I thank you for a new experience in my life, and for the trust that was given to me from the Good Shepherd Congregation of Indonesia Province, to be a volunteer in Palu, Sigi and Donggala which were affected by the earthquake and tsunami. A mission that strengthened my faith that in any circumstances if God wants something to happen, it will and it’s the best. It’s proved from my experience. Before leaving for Palu, I was lying sick with a fever but I believe the Spirit for Mission strengthened me to serve others. What a wonderful work of God, on the way to the mission, I experienced a recovery before I arrived in Palu and I have a new spirit to take part in this Humanitarian mission. I remembered the words of St. M. Euphrasia ‘Let us persevere in our path, do not be discouraged. God is the Lord of temptation and comfort. If you are loyal to the mission entrusted, if you truly love it, you can accomplish many things, because great work can only be accomplished through love.’

With a spirit of compassion, all volunteers who come from different backgrounds and characters are united by the Holy Spirit for the same purpose, namely: the Humanitarian Mission for the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. God sends, God also prepares each person to do the best. The journey to a remote location in Sigi District, Kulawi Subdistrict, led me to a very difficult inner struggle. We had to pass through some landslides from the mountains, with very steep track conditions. That situation made me surrender all of my life and mission to God's compassion. After three hours trip, we finally arrived at Santa Maria services post in Kulawi.

Kulawi is a place that strengthened my heart to be faithful to mission. I realized that I was not used to singing or dancing and doing activity with children. But being a volunteer in Palu, I joined in the Psychosocial team which had the task of trauma healing for the children affected by the earthquake and tsunami. This was a challenge for me, but I still had confidence that where there is a will there is a way. I prepared everything, and most importantly I prayed to prepare my heart to face the children. The time came, for some reason I was so excited about accompanying forty two children in the first area. We sang, danced and played games together, the children were very cheerful until the end. I am very grateful for the Holy Spirit working in me, so I have the desire to meet children in the next  areas.

Before returning to the main post in Palu, our missionary spirit was tested again. We could not go back on schedule because there were twelve landslide points on the track we were going to pass, so finally we were evacuated by helicopter. It was a great experience with the children and an experience as a volunteer who ate whatever was served, sleeping on mats, taking a small part of the Good Shepherd Mission. I realized that, as a lay person I do not live the vow of poverty, but I tried to get out of my comfort zone to be able to feel what the the people felt as victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Sigi and Donggala. Thank you for Sr. Theresia Anita who became my partner in mission during our time in Palu and shared experiences about the Mission of the Good Shepherd and the Spirit of St. M. Euphrasia.

Be open, God guides you....

 

Story of Sister Theresia Anita Yuniastuti

After one week of the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Palu, in our province we were invited to a voluntary act to express our solidarity.  Palu is on the Sulawesi island, it is one of the largest islands in Indonesia. I expressed my willingness to be volunteer in Palu as soon as I was asked. This was the time to act in solidarity for the people who are suffering. It was my first time to volunteer for the emergency service after a disaster and I was very enthusiastic. Arriving in the airport in Palu, I gathered with the other volunteers from many places. We were organized by a parish church. After our arrival in the disaster post named ‘Bela Rasa’ (Compassion) we went around to see the situation while the medical team visited the people who were sick or injured. Many buildings had collapsed, the roads were bumpy. There were tents where the kids, men and women stayed after they lost their houses. Thousands of people died and were never found, because of the earthquake, and also from the affects of the tsunami, mud and soil movement.

‘Bela Rasa’ post was organized at the parish church supported by the dioceses. They organized three divisions for the emergency services: medical, logistic and assessment for distribution. I joined the medical team as they were visiting the area where there many sick people. While the medical team did their work I gathered the kids and invited them to draw with the drawing books that we bought. When they drew and coloured their pictures, some of them could share their experience during the disaster. They felt afraid and anxious especially when they heard strong sounds or experienced the small earthquakes that were still happening. After two days, I joined the logistic division to work in the logistic warehouse. There were a lot of goods that were supplied from many places and need to be packed immediately before being distributed to the families.  After the assessment process, the families that were affected by the disaster will receive one basic foodstuff packet for three days. With many people young and old, men and women we worked in the logistic warehouse. I did packaging with the others for thousands of packets. We were happy and enjoyed doing our work.

The people who were affected were sad and in distress. The children did not go to school and stayed in the tent with hot temperatures. Their parent did not work. In this severe place, they ate foods from the gifts.  It was rare to find clean water. Some children did not realize their reality. Some parents looked sad and hopeless. These are the situations that I found when visiting them. After looking at the possibilities and seeing the needs in some places, I rejoined the medical team for the psychosocial needs. With some volunteers we worked with the children in the trauma healing program. When we went to the affected area we invited the children to have some activity such as playing, singing, sharing and animated them to discuss safe response to disasters and how to save themselves. When we reported to the group during our briefing, we started to see that the psychosocial program is needed. So we gathered to start to collaborate in the service of psychosocial activities for children. 

After being there for one week, a Good Shepherd lay partner arrived and strengthened our team. Then we worked in the psychosocial section for healing and counselling. During my two weeks voluntary work, I was invited to practise love. We came to be with them, be part of their struggle.  Listening to their story and their sufferings I was called to accompany and empower them. They needed support in many aspects, spiritually and physically, for the long term. I also learned to give joyfully whatever is needed with all my capacity and limitation.  Our effort, although small, was offered with love, and hope will grow to strengthen their lives. I am grateful for all my experiences in Palu. Our prayer for the people: the children, women, men and our nature whom affected by the disaster.

May our Shepherd God through many hearts send to them

blessings and mercy for their lives.