Thursday, 29 October 2009

ONE DAY LIFE-THREATENING LANDSLIDES, THE NEXT SCHOOL CHILDREN SINGING AND DANCING

Yesterday, twenty nine days after the earthquake, I travelled with Ebu Sastri, a board member of the Indonesian Red Cross West Sumatra Chapter, to monitor relief distributions to affected people in Kota Pariaman. Pak Arifin and Wayne Ulrich, my ops manager came to. We visited schools, homes, villages to see if the aid we are delivering was what the people needed. We needn't have worried because the people were generally pleased with the array and quality of relief items.
It is a great learning experience for me to travel with Ebu Sastri for she is from this area and has such empathy with the people affected. I learn about the culture, the habits, the humour which is never far from the surface, and the needs of the people. She tells me in West Sumatra, it has one of the few matriarchal societies left in the world. By the respect people show to Ebu Sastri, I am now calling her the 'Queen of west Sumatra." When I returned to Padang, Ebu Sastri showed me round her office where she is secretary to the Parliament. Many parts of her building have collapsed and the rest have major cracks. Anxious women wait in her office to discuss their problems. So many show signs of trauma having lost many familiy members in the quake. Her days are long as she holds down a full time job and gives another 4 or 5 hours a day to Red Cross.

Ebu Sastri (left) and me leaving the preschool which is housed in a tent. Photo: Wayne Ulrich.

Young children sing and dance in a pre school tent at Rauahatul Jannali. The school has 25 students who parents pay US$ 2.5 a month. Some parents cannot afford to pay. The teacher receives a salary of US$ 10 per month. Getting schools operating quickly in tents supplied by PMI have played a vital role in gradually alleviating stress and trauma. Two weeks ago many children spoke of having recurring nightmares when they sleep and dream their parents have been killed. Now the PMI PSP volunteers who visit schools and communities on a regular basis, say the nightmares experienced by the children are dissipating.

Kemisah sits on a wall outside her destroyed home. The Red Cross have given her a tent to live in. Photo: Wayne Ulrich

Ebu Sastri right, and Pak Arifin 2nd from right, listen to Kemisah, who lost her home and all belongings in a village outside of Kota Pariaman. To date she has received a tent, sleeping mats, jerry cans, family kit, hygiene kit and mosquito nets. Photo: Wayne Ulrich


Landslides triggered by the earthquake, are starting to move again, threatening villages below on the shores of Lake Maninjau in Agam . We inspected this remote mountain area yesterday by helicopter Photo: Bob MCKerrow
Due to heavy rain, there is a continued concern that many communities living around the crater lake of Maninjau in Agam will continue to face the threat of renewed land and mud slides. Many villages have already been destroyed by landslides triggered by the earthquake. Now with the rainy season is approaching the government (fearing the landslides will continue to destroy the remaining settlements) has moved more than 3000 people to safer locations. These people may later return once the risks have reduced or will move to more permanent dwellings away from the danger areas. Tents supplied by the Hong Kong Red Cross to the PMI are being used to provide immediate shelter relief to these vulnerable families. Photo Bob McKerrow,

47 comments:

R D McKerrow said...

Bob
My name is Robert (Bob) McKerrow and live in Brisbane. My ancestory goes back to Ayrshire so we are probably related somehow. My son is 27 and has a degree in Environmental Management and is almost completed a Masters in International Development and only needs to do an internship to complete. Not sure if IRC can help in this regard. He seems to have a spirit very muck like yours in terms of adventure and to "make a difference". I am sure he would pack up and join you tomorrow if he had a chance.Would be great to make contact with you in this regard.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Have a great and relaxing weekend. I am off to the Ruahine for a tops camp and a wander down to the mountain river the following day. I shall toast you with a fine wee dram under the mountain sky.
Cheers,
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

From Bob McKerrow to Bob McKerrow

We must be related through our common Ayreshire roots. Your sons sounds a very active person. A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Bob

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Robb

I must say I am a triflr envious of you going off into the cool mountains. Its 38 oC here and getting hotter every day. Have a wonderful trip. I'll be thinking of you.

Bob

Donald said...

Hi Bob

Having a cool beer here while cooking a meal, after a 90 min. walk over Mt Iron - all to the tunes of the westerlies that have really kicked in Oct. style. On the edge here it's sunny, but back in the alps the snows are finally melting, turned on by a key if you like, bang on the 1st Nov. It'll soon be SAR season next too!

Thanks for the update on your important work. The landslide potential really seems high alright. Really reminds me of travelling in Fiordland in storms of a 6 to 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. The sort of weather where for me anyway, I pass over into the zone... acute awareness and all that stuff - I'd hate to be living under unstable hill sides, as traveling is bad enough and no doubt these people know that!

I'm having a coffee on Friday with an old friend who worked for me. She's a young woman who followed her humanitarian dream a year ago or more to do aid work in Africa. It's going to be interesting as I think she gave it her best shot, but had to pull out. It seems places on that continent can leave a shadow on a person's soul, so I hope I find her in good spirits.

Cheers

Donald

Donald said...

Opps forgot to subscribe to the email follow-up comments. Must be the beer. So pardon me while I post again.

Cheers

Donald

Bob McKerrow said...

Thanks Donald

I can understand how your friend decided to move on. Yes shadows do pass over your soul and if you lack a rough, tough Kiwi mountain stamina, it ican be hard to survive decade after decade.

Take care with the beer.

Bob

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