NEWS RELEASE #11: MERCY Malaysia expands aid to more villages at Palu

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.www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

Wah Seong holds charity car wash for Palu victims

Kuala Lumpur, 19 October 2018… Wah Seong Corporation Berhad raised RM50,000 in a charity car wash held recently at its Bukit Kemuning facilities in support of MERCY Malaysia’s post-disaster recovery aid for the people in Palu.

Over 100 staff, suppliers, friends and customers across their four subsidiary companies – PMT Industries Sdn Bhd, Mackenzie Industries Sdn Bhd, Jutasama Sdn Bhd, WDG Resources Sdn Bhd – participated in the event, with around 80 cars and one excavator being washed by staff volunteers.

“When we heard about the earthquakes and tsunami from the news, we immediately wanted to lend a hand,” said Chan Cheu Leong, Group CEO of Wah Seong Group. The Group deals with Oil and Gas industries and is a leading distributor for steam turbines in oil palm industries. Wah Seong has businesses in South Sulawesi, as well as other parts of Indonesia such as Batam, Medan, Kalimantan, Java and Papua.

Although the emergency phase of the disaster is now over, Chan expressed concern for the psychological health of the survivors, stating that they would be traumatized forever.

The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) report 78,994 people who are displaced (as of 15 October 2018), with almost 70,000 houses  damaged.

“We are heartbroken hearing about mothers whose babies were snatched out of their arms in the tsunami, people whose entire families are still missing after the earthquake, children who are falling sick because of sleeping outdoors in cold and damp conditions in the last three weeks. Hopefully our little contribution can make a difference in the lives of these survivors,” adds Chan.

Although the charity car wash was organised in less than two weeks, he was surprised at the response. “It was good to see such a good turnout! Initially only around 20 cars had registered for the car wash. It later ballooned to almost 80 cars during the event. I told everyone it didn’t matter how much they donated, what was important was that they cared about our Sulawesi neighbours during this time of crisis,” he stresses.

The group also runs Yayasan Wah Seong (YWS), which has provided scholarships to academically strong students who need financial support since 2008. In the last decade, the YWS has spent over RM2.3 million for 95 scholarships to students in private and public universities in Malaysia.

“After being in business for so long, we know that we cannot just focus on profits. People and the environment are important, and profits are only sustainable if we invest in human and environmental development. We hope that today’s event will instill the spirit and culture of caring for the unfortunate,” says Chan.

To date, MERCY Malaysia has collected RM725,085.88, which is being utilized for medical services, food and non-food items, as well as the construction of transit homes and communal toilets. So far, two sets of communal toilets and 30 transit homes have been established, with another 170 more transit homes in the works. More latrines and transit homes are being planned, as they have been identified as the major need on the ground.

MERCY Malaysia has also deployed a team of mental health practitioners, who will conduct psychosocial programmes for children and families. The team will help the people affected to cope with the trauma they experienced and  manage psychosomatic symptoms such as problem sleeping, depression, unexplained aches and pains.

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chan Li Jin         E: lijin.chan@www.mercy.org.my  /    M:+6012-325 2067

NEWS RELEASE #10: MERCY Malaysia begins building shelters and toilets in Palu

Kuala Lumpur, 14 October 2018…After two weeks of mobile clinics and distributions of food and non-food items at tsunami and earthquake-struck Palu and Donggala, MERCY Malaysia has started the construction of temporary shelters and communal toilets for the affected communities. The organisation will, however, continue supporting medical services through its local partner, MER-C Indonesia, at the same time begin psychosocial services.

Last week, the organisation has also successfully established a Type 1 Field Hospital at Sibalaya Utara at Sigi district, which will support the existing health services at the Puskesmas or distric clinic. The district Puskesmas will now be upgraded to a main Puskesmas because the road leading to the main puskesmas was destroyed.

“Like all other buildings that are still standing, there are cracks on the walls of the Sibalaya Utara Puskesmas. Even visitors like us were nervous when entering the building, what more the patients who have to spend a few hours waiting in line,” says Dr Shalimar Abdullah, MERCY Malaysia’s EMT logistic specialist and Vice President III.

As a result, patients would rather seek treatment under tarpaulin tents or the Field Clinic in case there are aftershocks from the earlier earthquakes. That also explains the popularity of the Naval Hospital, which was overwhelmed with patients since it docked at the Palu port on 3 October.

Sigi, the site of soil liquefaction and earthquake, had claimed the lives of 200 teenagers who were participating in a church activity. Another 50 families are still missing, and are now assumed dead as search and rescue activities officially ended on 11 Oct, last Thursday.

MERCY Malaysia is currently building two sets of communal 3-in-1 toilets at a site opposite the Sigi Market where 700 displaced people, including 200 children, are currently staying. The community of 101 families had been sharing one single toilet since the last two weeks.

“Currently, the excrement is collected in plastic bags and dumped in the surroundings. The two sets of communal toilets, each with a toilet, wash area and shower, will provide real relief to the communities here,” states team leader Norazam Ab Samah.

“The toilets will also reduce the risk of infectious diseases, with some children already beginning to experience diarrhea,” adds Dr Shalimar. There is also a need to address the indiscriminate disposal of household rubbish, which is creating a stench which could attract flies and become breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Plans are underway to build 150 to 200 temporary shelters at the area to provide a comfortable living space for the next 6-18 months.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations collected are at RM506,525.63(as of 11 October 2018).

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

NEWS RELEASE #9:MERCY Malaysia identifies Sigi for Field Hospital site

Kuala Lumpur, 10 October 2018…With the assets for the Field Hospital arriving in Palu today, MERCY Malaysia will focus on the setting up of the medical facilities within the coming week. Sibalaya Utara, located 31 km away from Kota Palu, has been identified as the site for the Field Hospital as it is among the worst-hit areas.

Despite the challenging circumstances, the Malaysian-based NGO’s humanitarian aid at disaster-struck Palu has been smooth-sailing, thanks to a standing partnership with the AHA Centre (ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management), and a sound working relationship with Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara (NADMA).

“At ground level, we are also working with and through NGO partners, such as PKPU Human Initiative, Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER_C), Rumah Sakit Umum Sis. Al Jufri and the local Rumah Sakit (district clinics),” explains Dato’ Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus, President of MERCY Malaysia.

In the aftermath of the Palu earthquake and tsunami, the government of Indonesia had earlier released a statement of the assistance required, which included heavy equipment, medical supplies, shelter kits and ready-to-eat foods. MERCY Malaysia’s response plan was then catered to that request, adds Dr Faizal.

The establishment of a Field Hospital at the worst-hit areas of Palu, he added, MERCY Malaysia had abided by the regulations of sending only medical assets and equipment.

“We respect the local government’s directive not to send any medical personnel because they have enough manpower on the island,” says Dr Faizal. “Indonesia is no stranger to natural disasters like this, and has sufficient capacity to manage with their local expertise. As foreigners, we can only play a supporting role to fill any missing gaps.”

MERCY Malaysia currently has 9 medical personnel and 4 non-medical personnel in Palu, conducting mobile clinics at hard-to-reach places on the island. In the following week, the Emergency Medical Team (EMT) will assist to establish the field hospital and provide training to the local medical team for continued management.

The organisation today distributed Hygiene Kits to 113 families from Desa Loli Saluran and Kecamatan Banawa in the Donggala district. Each kit contains soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shavers, sanitary napkins, underwear and towels for a family of four.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations collected are at RM498,258.63, with RM256,843.92 being spent to date.

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chan Li Jin        E: lijin.chan@www.mercy.org.my  /    M:+6012-325 2067

NEWS RELEASE #8: MERCY Malaysia leads NGO coordination efforts to Palu 

Kuala Lumpur, 9 October 2018… Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara (NADMA) coordinated the deployment of humanitarian assistance to disaster-struck Central Sulawesi, with MERCY Malaysia tasked to facilitate the distributions of relief items upon arrival. Four Malaysian NGOs – MERCY Malaysia, Disaster Aid, Yayasan Inai and Volunteer Malaysia (formerly known as IM4U) – had been involved in this joint partnership.

A total of 4,416 kgs of relief items comprising medical items, feminine care products, personal care products, sleeping bags and temporary shelters were sent off by TUDM’s C-130 at the Subang Royal Malaysia Air Force Base at 5 pm.

MERCY Malaysia’s items consisted of assets for the establishment of a Field Hospital, which will be set up at an area in Palu which has yet to receive medical care. Many areas still do not have access to medical services because the roads or bridges have crashed. Many people are also afraid of going to the hospital because they do not want to see dead bodies.

The EMT team had yesterday visited Sigi, one of the worst-hit areas which had experienced a rare geographical phenomenon known as ‘liquefaction’. This is where the soil practically melted away in wave-like motions. The liquefaction had totally changed the landscape of the area, with a corn field that was previously located on a hill top now located at the foothill where a paddy field used to be.

The paddy field is now nowhere to be seen, and local authorities have reported that an estimated 5,000 people are still unaccountable for in that area.

Meanwhile, the medical team continued conducting mobile clinics to two or three different locations daily. Yesterday, 95 patients were treated for various conditions, the most common being injuries, cold and colds, respiratory and skin infections.

With logistics and transportation still a major problem, the team used whatever resources and areas to set up clinics, sometimes at the homes of villagers, mosques, open fields, even under a tree by the sea. Patients in the town area even visit the medical team at night back at the base camp at Donggala to seek help for their medical conditions.

Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations collected stand at RM461,107.53, with RM211,114 being spent to date.

Contributions can be made to MERCY Humanitarian Fund (MBB 5621 7950 4126) or MERCY Malaysia (CIMB 8000-7929-08) or through www.www.mercy.org.my. All contributions are tax-exempted.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Chan Li Jin        E: lijin.chan@www.mercy.org.my  /    M:+6012-325 2067