Christian News from Scotland

News stories from Scotland and beyond

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Indonesian Earthquake

Christians are on the ground in Indonesia, helping people who's lives have been shattered by the sunrise earthquake of Saturday 27th May.

Tearfund

Tearfund’s Christian partners in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta are appealing for prayer as they frantically help those injured and made homeless by Saturday’s devastating earthquake.

“Churches and youth group members in Yogyakarta are helping people who have not yet received major help,” reports Agustin Samosir, of Indonesian Baptist Aid. “We are helping to evacuate people, prepare public kitchens, deliver meals and distribute plastic tarpaulins for shelter.”

Heavy rain is hampering relief work after the earthquake which measured 6.3 killed at least 5,000 people and injured 20,000. A further 200,000 people are estimated to be homeless. Predictions that the nearby volcano Mount Merapi might explode is adding to people’s fears of further destruction following several earthquake aftershocks.

Agustin Samosir, of Indonesian Baptist Aid, says shelter, medicines and clean water remain the most urgent priorities. “There are doctors from Surabaya and some nurses from Lampung who have arrived since Sunday morning. Further medical help has come from Kediri,” he reports.

Augustin adds: “Basic needs are becoming more expensive in Yogyakarta. Gasoline is very hard to find. Please pray for all the victims and their families and also for the teams responding, that we are well co-ordinated.”

Meanwhile, Tearfund staff in Banda Aceh working on recovery programmes following the South Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004, have sent several staff, as well as blankets, tents and antiseptic lotions to the scene of the earthquake.

John Samuel, Programme Director for Tearfund’s Tsunami response programme based in Banda Aceh, says: “People here in Indonesia are worried and fearful. This earthquake struck less than 18 months after the tsunami.”

Operation Blessing International

Homeless earthquake survivors living in rice fields and makeshift shacks begged for food and water under a blazing sun as Indonesia's death toll continues to rise. The death toll is officially over 5,000, but that's expected to rise even higher as bodies are pulled from the debris left by the 6.2 magnitude quake that shook the Island of Java on Saturday.

Christians are responding to the disaster. Operation Blessing International's Mark McClendon is on the ground in Yogyakarta, the hardest hit area. "It just absolutely decimated tens of thousands of homes. Hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, sleeping outdoors for fear of going inside because an after shock or another earthquake could bring whatever's left down on them."

McClendon says hospitals are also affected. "Patients in hospitals are afraid to be inside the hospital. And so you find them strewn around the yard -- even i-vs hanging off tree branches and things like that because they're just afraid to be inside."

Operation Blessing has a national staff in Indonesia, which McClendon says has allowed them to mobilize quickly. "We have, now, seven full-blown medical teams going into all of these regions. They're mobile and they're moving from place to place and bring a lot more help to a lot more people than we would if we were just planted in a particular area."

OBI hope to distribute 20,000 family sized Emergency Relief Kits by Christian volunteers. These people are also working as trauma counseling. McClendon says this is helpful because this is a difficult area. "This is a very Muslim area and an area that has been very resistant to the Gospel. It's just amazing how people's hearts soften when they feel helpless and there's nowhere to turn to and yet that's the moment where we can come and we can demonstrate God's love for them."

Funding is the biggest need right now. OBI is purchasing relief items in Indonesia and trucking the supplies into the devastated areas. Gifts of any amount can help equip OBI to be effective both physically and spiritually. Go to
https://www.ob.org/giving/ob/option.asp?m=yogyakarta to give safely and securely on-line.

Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry is on the ground with two teams in quake-damaged Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Country officials admit they're struggling to cope with the scale of the catastrophe, and declared a three-month state of emergency.

While the death toll tops 4,000, there are over 200,000 homeless, mostly women and children. FH teams are distributing emergency shelter material and other supplies. They're working in cooperation with both international and local agencies as the needs mount.

Just a few days into the effort, the teams are out pacing the resources. That may soon point to a need for more help.

Also facing the teams are not just the immediate shelter needs, but also the upcoming ones of sanitation and clean drinking water.

With hospitals filled to overflowing, and wounded everywhere, there is a concern about deadly outbreaks. Add to that potable water concerns and broken sewage lines, and that concern grows into alarm,

FH teams are already preparing an appropriate response in the water/sanitation sector in the days to come.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by this devastating earthquake. Pray too that the hands of the teams would reflect the love and hope of Christ to the survivors in this difficult time.

World Vision

The second distribution of World Vision relief aid, consisting of family kits and hygiene kits, will reach more than 30,000 survivors of the quake in Yogyakarta's Bantul district and neighbouring Klaten district within the next week.

The relief assistance will total 7,000 packages of family kits and hygiene kits, which will be distributed to more than 30,000 people (7,000 families).

Out of the 7,000 packages, 1,500 arrived in Yogyakarta today (Tuesday May 30). The remaining 5,500 packages have been ordered and will soon be on their way to Yogyakarta from Jakarta and Surabaya, the two largest cities in the country.

Among the items in the kits are pans, dishes, glasses, spoons, buckets, stoves, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, flashlights and kerosene lamps.

World Vision will begin distributing the goods on Wednesday (after sorting the goods based on the quantity needed by each site the organisation plans to support).

On Tuesday, besides distributing the remaining tarpaulins and other items, World Vision conducted coordination meetings with the government and prepared the communities where aid distribution will be conducted in the coming days.

Initial World Vision relief aid distributions began on Sunday consisting of hundreds of tarpaulins, blankets, sarongs, stretchers/cots, intravenous solution and gloves.

World Vision's James East in Yogyakarta says, "We expect to be responding for the next six months to a year. These initial distributions are only the first step in a long reconstruction process."

Meanwhile, quakes of a smaller magnitude also jolted Padang area in West Sumatra and Jayawijaya highlands in Papua province at midday on Tuesday. There are no reports of any serious damage.

World Vision has four Area Development Programmes in Jayawijaya districts, with some 7,000 children in programme.

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