Kuala Lumpur, 8 October 2018… MERCY Malaysia has been overwhelmed with calls and emails from caring Malaysians ten days into the Palu and Donggala earthquake and tsunami that has claimed 1,763 lives to date. Many have offered to collect old clothes, donate mineral water or other items as a show of solidarity with our Sulawesi neighbours.
However, the non-governmental and non-profit organisation has been unable to accept donations in kind as logistics and transportation remains a major problem in disaster-struck Sulawesi. As fuel and energy are costly and scarce at the moment, the costs of everything have increased by several folds.
On top of flight charges, there are also customs charges and other fees that make it hugely uneconomical to bring aid items across, advises Norazam Ab Samah, MERCY Malaysia’s executive council member and team leader of the Palu relief response.
For the same reason, requests from concerned people who would like to assist MERCY Malaysia at the tsunami and earthquake affected areas could not be fulfilled for now. Norazam explains that the medical team, who is currently conducting mobile clinics and has treated over 400 patients across 6 towns, does not have the capacity to attend to additional team members.
The people in Palu urgently need essential items such as shelter, food, water and personal care items, which are best purchased locally to help revive the economy, he advises. Norazam speaks from his recent experience from the Lombok earthquake, where the farming population suffered huge losses when their produce were not collected by traders for sale.
He urges caring Malaysians to be creative in extending assistance to those affected, such as raising funds through a charity car wash, holding a fund-raising movie night or passing the hat around in their local community. The funds can then be transmitted to NGOs already on the ground to build shelter kits, purchase food packs and hygiene items, plus provide medical care to people in hard-to-reach places in Palu.
As of today, MERCY Malaysia has a team of 13 on the ground, conducting medical clinics, assessments for Emergency Medical Team (EMT) and aid distributions. The EMT this morning donated spinal block (anesthetic medications for lower limbs) to Indonesian NGO Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C) for 60 patients to help in their surgeries. Plans are underway to donate tents, hospital beds, toilet and suture sets and medications for the setting up of a Field Hospital.
“Several locations have been identified as potential sites,” states Prof Dr Shalimar Abdullah, MERCY Malaysia’s Vice President II and an EMT medical logistics specialist. “It will likely be at an area which has yet to receive medical care due to its remote location or being cut off after the earthquake destroyed major road systems.”
With 67,000 houses damaged and 71,000 people displaced, plans are underway for the building of transit homes, locally known as ‘Rumah Senyum’. Allocations for these homes are based on priority, with single mothers, senior citizens and families with young children and disabled persons given priority.
Urgent funds are needed to help the people affected, and every bit will make a difference. Donations 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.
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