Kuala Lumpur, 23 October 2018… As the people in Palu, Sulawesi, begin picking up their lives following the earthquake and tsunami three weeks ago, MERCY Malaysia’s relief aid is being expanded to cover more affected sites. Recovery programmes are focused mainly on establishing transit homes (temporary shelters), building communal toilets and providing medical and psychosocial services.
The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) had earlier reported about 88,000 people displaced. As the actual data from affected sites begin coming in, AHA Centre’s latest report shows that over 222,000 people have been displaced.
With such a big number of people losing their homes, shelter remains a top priority. To date, MERCY Malaysia has installed 50 units of transit homes at two sites of Tipo, Sigi. The homes, which are modelled as close to possible to their previous homes, can house a family of eight comfortably. Each shelter also came equipped with a small over-arching verandah, windows and lighting system.
“Many families have already moved in to their transit homes as they come to terms with the devastation of the double disasters that hit their land,” says Norazam Ab Samah, MERCY Malaysia’e exco member and team leader in Palu.
There are still aftershocks happening every other day, the latest being a 5.2 RS that struck at midnight yesterday. “For safety reasons, the locals prefer to stay in transit homes even if their houses did not collapse,” he says. MERCY Malaysia targets to install 300 units in the upcoming month at other sites within the worst-hit district of Sibalaya.
As the displaced communities are currently living in congested surroundings, W.A.S.H facilities are severely limited. At the collapsed Sibalaya Market where over 500 people were previously sharing one toilet, the lack of hygiene such as open defecation poses serious problems.
MERCY Malaysia has since built two units of communal toilets for the Sibalaya community, where villagers can shower, wash and do their business. Four more units equipped with septic drums and water storage tanks will be built in Tipo and Jono Oge.
Meanwhile, the psychosocial team has conducted a train-the-trainer programme for 80 university students from Institut Agama Islam Negeri Palu (IAIN) at the IAIN Dewan Awla. The week-long programme will cover various psychosocial modules such as ‘Adult Coping Skills’ and ‘Child Friendly Space’ to help different target audiences.
“Trauma Healing, which involves more than just play and talk therapy, is still a relatively new specialty in Indonesia,” explains Norazam. Students who have undergone the training will later be divided into four groups to conduct psychosocial assessments and therapy at different sites under the supervision and guidance of MERCY Malaysia’s trainers.
The NGO estimates that they will continue providing aid for at least three months more at Palu. Urgent funds are needed to help them continue their work. Donations collected are at RM817,015.88 (as of 23 October 2018), with RM390,760 spent so far.
Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.