Natural disasters have plagued Indonesia in the last few years bringing untold suffering to those directly affected by earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. The Yayasan Cakrawala Masa Depan team once again was able to rapidly mobilize to meet the immediate needs, offering both physical and emotional support to the victims.
When Mount Merapi Volcano erupted in central Java, Indonesia, the initial explosion left 200 people dead, with over 75,000 refugees fleeing the destruction. This important farming region was devastated and hundreds of thousands of lives were disrupted.
Yayasan Cakrawala Masa Depan (YCMD) targeted areas where the people were receiving the least amount of aid from government agencies. YCMD volunteers began by gathering and distributing a 9-ton shipment of food, medical and basic needs aid. Volunteers provided basic medical care to children and adults who had suffered injuries during their emergency evacuation. They also worked in the makeshift kitchens and serving lines distributing 3 meals a day to the refugees.
The volcano meanwhile continued belching forth tons of ash and lava, which presented further challenges such as the need to move the refugee camps to create a greater perimeter of safety. “We woke up with soot and ash on our faces and in our mouths and sand grinding in our teeth,” one YCMP volunteer wrote. “In spite of the many hardships they were enduring, it was very moving to see the positive attitude of the people in the camps.”
As in all disasters, children are the most vulnerable members affected. YCMD volunteer teams responded to the pressing needs of the children in the camps by organizing activities, games and puppet shows, thus relieving some of the stress that the families endured. A simple “trash pickup program” involved the older children who were organized into groups. The program proved helpful in not only improving conditions in the camp, but also giving these young people a sense of purpose and well-being.
One can be tempted to become overwhelmed when surveying the needs facing a disaster region. After completing the immediate emergency aid, Yayasan Cakrawala Masa Depan’s greatest concern was to identify and focus on areas where our energies, time and resourses would be the most effective.
The village we chose to work in was Dusun Suko. In counsel with regional agricultural specialists and village leaders, it was determined that since this is a farming region, enabling farmers to get back to their fields was of preeminent importance. To make matters worse, the volcanic eruption destroyed their crops just as they were about to begin harvesting, thus robbing the farmers of all income from that crop. BY re-instating their livelihoods, restoration of the local economy of the region could begin.
The obvious first step was to help the farmers get their fields prepared for planting again. A number of steps were necessary including cleaning the fields, re-plowing, fertilizing and then finally planting.
With aid to the region moving slowly, there was great concern that it would not arrive in time to begin this process, and a growing season would be lost. Thanks to a cooperative effort between an international company and Yayasan Cakrawala Masa Depan, funding was able to reach the needy region in record time. A ceremony was arranged for the farmers to come and receive their portion of the three necessary elements – fertilizer, pesticide and seeds – and most important of all, the opportunity to start again!
PVC water pipe was also purchased to replace damaged ones which channeled water from the stream to the mosque, another community project which needed to be done as part of the clean up. An unused structure in the village which contained valuable wood was purchased by a volunteer of YCMP and donated to the village. With the help of the village men, it was re-constructed on a plot in the village center as a village community center. The YCMD team then brought in computers and other educational supplies to help get the community center rolling.
The generous investment by partner organizations has paid off. When revisiting the fields within just a few short weeks, the entire area was green and growing. On each and every plot was a yellow tag reading: Merapi Agricultural Recovery Project (MARP) – Yayasan Cakrawala Masa Depan December 2010, Soko, Sewukan, Dukun, Magelang, Jawa Tengah” (which is the full name, sub district, district and province.)
The farmers and village leadership were elated.
And as one YCMD volunteer said, “There are no words that can match the feeling of experiencing this in person.”