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Kita pesimis dengan kesengsaraan insan yang menderita di serata dunia. Laman ini cuba mengundang kembali sekelumit fitrah insani yang cakna dan peka dengan kesengsaraan insan lain. Infaq di jalan Allah...

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Muslim Aid: Update From Padang

*pengalaman seorang petugas Muslim Aid untuk bantuan Padang

About 5:00 pm on September 30th, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck just offshore of the town of Padang in Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake toppled buildings and started many landslides, smashing homes and swallowing up entire villages. The following day, as rescue workers arrived and residents tried their best to dig out and help the survivors, another unrelated quake with a magnitude of 6.6 struck less than 1,000 km south of the original epicenter. Each of the two quakes had at least one aftershock greater than 5.0 as well.

We can say hand on heart that the night before (October 15th, 2009) we left for Padang, our nerves were getting the better of us. We hadn't a clue what to expect once we arrived and the coverage we’d been receiving from the media scared us to say the least.

Upon arrival at Padang airport, we had no problems with the 120kg worth of donations we’d hauled from KL, nor did we encounter any issues with regard to the quantity of cash (from our generous private donors) that we were carrying. Ihsaan, our contact from Muslim Aid Indonesia, was at the airport arrival hall to greet us with a smile. After a quick briefing and chat, we were on our way to the Muslim Aid Emergency Response centre: the bottom half of a rented terraced house in a northern suburb of Padang.

salem in front of muslim aid field office indonesia

(A picture of Salem deep in thought in front of the Muslim Aid Emergency Response Center)

At the same center we met Mark who had come up from the Muslim co-ordination centre in Yogjakarta to help administer emergency response. Also part of the team were Jonny, Wulan, Martin, Jenton, Gitek and Hendra who criss-crossed daily, on their motorbikes, the disaster zones assessing the needs, reporting back and coordinating the distribution of supplies. They were all young individuals from the local community with the exception of Mark who is a veteran in terms of managing crises across the globe. Mark spent much of the day behind his laptop researching, reporting and coordinating the effort with the wider Muslim Aid organisation. We managed to get a candid photo of him in action.

mark at action researching

(the floor in the foreground was where we slept)

They are all fantastic, driven individuals whom I pray Allah protects and rewards abundantly in this life and the next.

Upon arrival, we had a more detailed briefing with Ihsaan who informed us that rice and cooking oil (a local staple) were already ordered before our arrival and would be delivered later in the day (Friday). The prices of shovels, wheel barrows, hammers, working gloves et-al had already been negotiated beforehand by Ihsaan. The distributors were waiting for our arrival to finalise the orders and settle the payments. The lorry we’d requested to haul the goods was also due to arrive later in the afternoon after Friday prayers. Indeed, our initial mission upon arrival was was procurement. Wulan was assigned to us for the day to assist with payment, and price settlement.

We'd heard through Ihsaan that the situation in Padang, aside from the many damaged structures remaining, had drastically improved. However, the southern part of Padang was worst hit. We did not get a chance to tour area. The damage in the city mainly consisted of 2 and above storey buildings collapsing on their first floor.

collapsed building

(The photo shows one of the many collapsed buildings)

Some buildings and houses were simply reduced to rubble. We also learned that at the time the earthquake struck, around 5:30pm, many people were outdoors. If the earthquake had hit at night the death toll would have indeed been much higher. The total confirmed dead is now above 1100 with thousands injured and 10s of thousands made homeless. The rural district of Padang Pariaman was particularly badly hit, with some villages being simply buried completely by landslides. Another factor adding to the difficulties the homeless were facing was the whiplash of the monsoon season. This meant shelter was of utmost priority as was the need for insect repellent to mitigate the risk of potentially fatal mosquito bites for those sleeping outdoors in make shift shelters.

The sub-district of Padang Sago, which is a remote rural area, was assigned by the UN co-ordinators to Muslim Aid. Naturally, our effort was focused here since Martin and Ihsaan had already assessed the area in detail and new well what relief was needed. In particular the villages of Buluh Apo, Tanjung Mutih, Kampung Sikumbang and Sungei Puar were assigned to us. Up to then, these villages had not received any aid due to their remote locations. In fact, about an hour hike away from Kampung Sikumbang was a village that was swept away by a landslide.

destroyed home by earthquake

(Padang Sago)

Following our briefing, we made our way to town. All the items we procured were bought on the open market. We had been pre-warned that prices were higher than they were before the earthquake, but Alhumdulillah we were able to get good prices thanks to Wulan and Ihsaan. To give you an example, on the days following the earthquake, fuel prices rose from around 4,000IDR to 30,000IDR per litre. This was until the government stepped in. Alhumdulillah by the time we reached Padang most of the 'disaster inflation' had reduced and we were able to procure our food and supplies at prices just a few percent more than what they should have been.

The final inventory we procured was:
2.01 tonnes of rice from Solok
0.5 tonnes of cooking oil (in 1 litre bags)
approx 1.3 tonnes of tinned sardines (125 x 24 tins)
approx 15kg powdered baby food
60 x high quality wheel barrows
30 x 4kg sledge hammers
30 x 5kg sledge hammers
120 x shovels
200 x cotton work gloves
120 x leather work gloves
200 x heavy duty buckets
30 x 5m x 7m Tarpaulin
7 x 2.4m x 3m Tarpaulin
8 x spools of synthetic rope
approx 4000 x packets of insect repellant.
6000 plastic bags for distributing the rice.
Approx 80kg of clothes for men women and children.
Approx 40kg of women’s sanitary pads, soap, toothpaste, brushes, cleansers…

truck distibuting aid
truck taking aid

(Both trucks, including the "Wahyu" and its flaming eagle, loaded before our departure to the rural districts)

All these items were loaded onto one large truck, the "Wahyu" (-Spirit- in Indonesian) and another small one which we’d hired. After the cost of the items and truck rental, we were left with IDR2.15million (approx USD226), which we passed on to Ihsaan to administer through Muslim Aid. This money was used to procure toolkits (cement, shovels, wheel barrows et-al) to rebuild elementary school 18 in the district. The school "looks" okay, but a large crack in the foundation and the land.

construction materal being distributed by muslim aid

(Construction material distributed by Ihsaan -foreground- to elementary school 18 in Padang)

We prayed Friday prayers in one of the large mosques in Padang, which in itself was a wonderful experience. Shortly after, we returned to theMuslim Aid HQ to find the rice we’d order had already arrived. Through the afternoon the hardware began to trickle in as did the tinned sardines. The truck and driver finally made an appearance just before magrib (sunset). We loaded all the items onto the truck, taking a short break for a passing down pour, and decided it was best not to distribute any items at night and instead head out early the next day once the oil other items had arrived.

Saturday was spent in the field. Rizwan rode in the big truck while Salem sat alongside the driver in the smaller truck. Martin and the boys on their motor bikes kept us company and led the way. The road out of Padang was busy, but slowly our convoy traveled into the rural district of Padang Pariaman and onto Padang Sago, where the roads were nothing more than gravel tracks weaving their way through rice paddies and plantations, through the hilly lush green terrain. The surreal site of destroyed houses and mosques littered along the road side soon became familiar sites. Around half the homes we passed by in Pariaman were uninhabitable, while another 25% were badly damaged. The remainder, mostly wooden, seemed to have stood the test of the earthquake.


(Kampung Sikumbang)

Our first drop off was at Buloh Apo at the end of one these gravel tracks. The journey to the village took approximately 1 and half hours. Martin, who was co-ordinating the effort in the field had already assessed the needs and directed us to what items needed offloading and in what quantities. We were amazed at the patience and dignity of the villagers, who on our arrival, had started to gather around one of the few structures that remained standing. The gathering point was to be the central drop-off area for distribution in this rural community.

sipping on coconut indonesia

(Sipping on fresh coconuts -just for a minute)

We were greeted with fresh coconut water which went down well given it had now reached early afternoon. As we unloaded the trucks, the men in the village formed orderly lines and patiently awaited the items Martin was directing us to offload. After we finished unloading many, of the villagers who’d gathered came to greet us and shake our hands. A touching moment indeed, especially since it wasn’t until that day that they had received any aid. Alhumdulillah, water is plentiful supply in this region as is fruit from the tropical forest, such as coconut, banana, etc…

We distributed goods for 68 housholds in Buloh Apo. We then moved on to Sungai Puar where the situation was much the same. There, we provided food supplies for 178 households. The last two drop offs were the villages of Tanjung Mutih and Kampung Sikumbang where the remaining food and supplies were delivered to aid 91 and 42 households respectively.

aid distribution by brother rizwan & salem

(Rizwan and Salem distributing, on top of the "Wahyu" -Spirit- truck)

In each of these villages our Muslim Aid co-ordinators had co-ordinated with the local villagers and kept registers of the households and their needs. Many of these homes were away from the road and out of sight. It was left to the respective villagers to distribute our supplies to each household. With our trucks emptied at the last drop off we made our way back to Sungai Puar, where we made wudu (ablution) in a stream and conducted our midday and afternoon prayers. We finally rested for a short while.

The day was drawing to an end and many of the villagers were bathing in the streams and getting ready for another night. Just before the sunset we started making our way back to Padang, tired from all the lifting and traveling and in need of a good meal. However, while on our way it began to rain and our thoughts were on nothing but the welfare of those we’d just met in the villages nestled in the hills behind us.

rice bag aid

(Distributing rice bags at Sugai Puar)

On our last day, Sunday, we decided to help Muslim Aid distribute a huge consignment of blankets that had arrived from Jakarta. Muslim Aid director for Indonesia, Mahfuzur Rahman, had also arrived on Saturday night to assess the situation in Padang. On Sunday, together with Mahfuzur, Ihsaan, Mark and the others, we made our back to the villages we’d been just the day before to see to our satisfaction that virtually all the items we’d dropped off had already been distributed to the nearby “homes”. Alhumdulillah! With just a short time on Sunday in hand, as our flight was due to depart at 5:25pm, we departed from Padang Sago early. Mahfuzur and Ihsaan treated us to some Nasi Padang (local meal of various sorts) before we extended our Salaam and were driven by Jonny, back to the airport.

aid team muslim aid

(Salem towering the crowd, the "Wahyu" and his flaming eagle emptied, smiling faces and a fulfilling mission... fulfilled)

Alhamdulilah! -All Praise be to Allah


hai temen2 slamat berjuang ya.... kalahkan belanda klasik!!

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