After the tsunami

tsunamiUnitingWorld church partners have responded quickly to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Sulawesi in late September, but donations are still needed to support recovery efforts.

More than 2000 people are confirmed dead, 5000 remain missing and an estimated 70,000 are homeless.

The disaster has taken a personal toll on UnitingWorld partners in Indonesia, with a number of staff losing friends and loved ones.

A number of UnitingWorld development projects were also affected by the crisis.

More than 4000 vulnerable people in Central Sulawesi who were clients of a microfinance project supported by UnitingWorld partners Tanaoba Lais Manekat (TLM) have lost their homes.

It will be some months before TLM is able to assess the full impact of the disaster.

UnitingWorld has launched an emergency appeal to support local churches in Sulawesi as they respond to the crisis with shelter, food, water, malaria nets, hygiene kits and medical aid.

Initial funds raised were sent to support relief work coordinated by Communion of Churches in Indonesia.

Those funds have gone towards church-based shelters providing basic health care, pastors offering trauma counselling and other crisis relief services.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, churches in non-affected areas around Donggala began collecting emergency supplies to take to Palu and other coastal areas that were hardest hit.

The Protestant Church in Central Sulawesi opened an emergency centre in one of its high school buildings near Palu.

Local ministers coordinating the relief effort reported that people were so traumatised by aftershocks they preferred to sleep outside the buildings.

Many church buildings have been converted into emergency centres.

A health team has been sent from Jakarta to assist recovery efforts and UnitingWorld Indonesian staff are planning to travel to Palu.

Over the coming months, UnitingWorld will work with church partners on drawing up long-term recovery plans. However, infrastructure breakdown and the sheer scale of the disaster have made this process difficult. 

UnitingWorld’s Bali office remains in constant communication with church partners in Sulawesi and is putting together an agreement for the Protestant Church in Bali’s development arm (MBM) to scale up their response.

The MBM plans to send a medical team and a specialist disaster coordinator to support local health centres run by Sulawesi churches, with a particular focus on remote areas overlooked by major recovery efforts.

You can support the UnitingWorld tsunami crisis appeal at www.unitingworld.org.au/indonesiatsunami

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