By Sydney Morton, IFRC
It has now been over six weeks since the first earthquake struck Lombok, Indonesia, and people have endured more than 1,500 aftershocks.
Many homes, local businesses and schools were damaged by the first 6.4 magnitude earthquake on 29 July. A second magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck on 5 August. On 9 August, a 5.9 magnitude event caused even more destruction. Two additional earthquakes struck on 19 August, both greater than 6.5 in magnitude. The destruction and loss caused by these events is profound. Many residents agree – multiple earthquakes and chronic aftershocks are frightening.
To help families cope with continued tremors and loss, trained Indonesian Red Cross volunteers are providing psychosocial support. Through games and songs, children learned that their range of emotions are normal during this difficult time. The children and volunteers talked about how to comfort friends, classmates or siblings who may be scared or sad.
The adults are receiving training too. Community Based Action Teams, comprised of local residents in communities across Indonesia, are trained to help their neighbors in the event of a crisis or natural disaster.
“We help recruit and train local community leaders, or people who neighbors can turn to,” said Arifin M. Hadi, head of disaster management for Indonesian Red Cross. “In a disaster, these local leaders have the tools to keep their fellow community members safe.” Community Based Action Teams started in the early-2000’s and have spread to nearly every province in Indonesia.
One of these Community Based Action Team members is twenty four year-old Ifa. She decided to join her local Community Based Action team after the recent earthquakes. “I want to be prepared and mobilize our community,” said Ifa. “Thanks to Red Cross training, now I know how to keep my neighbors safe.” Ifa’s three-year-old daughter, Silmi, joins her during these training sessions. We hope Silmi will grow up to be an Indonesian Red Cross volunteer like her mom.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Red Cross continues to work around the clock to meet the needs of the most vulnerable residents in Lombok, including people with disabilities and the elderly. Some residents were injured in the earthquakes and now need wheelchairs. The Indonesian Red Cross is delivering wheel chairs to provide mobility—and hope—to survivors.
As specialists in water, sanitation and hygiene, the Red Cross is working to repair pipelines and access to water sources. So far, they have distributed nearly four million liters of water to hard-hit communities in Lombok.
Maps are also a critical part in ensuring that no one is left behind after a disaster. Hady Prasetyo has created dozens of new maps to plot earthquake damage, affected households, and delivery of humanitarian aid in Lombok using open-data. “Creating maps helps humanity,” said Hady. Indonesian Red Cross volunteers have maps in their hands as they deliver aid to earthquake-affected communities across the region.