Words and pictures by Musfarayani/IFRC

The wind was blowing hot and dry across the small lane nestled between the community hall and a row of shops when villagers from Dolago, Palu, began to arrive to meet with the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia) staff and volunteers, and representatives from a local bank to set up their new bank accounts. This is the first step for communities to receiving an unconditional cash grant amounting to 430 Swiss Francs or 440 US Dollars.

For 18-year-old Isyana, receiving this cash grant meant she could buy school supplies and start a new business selling snacks and hot food outside her house. “My parents fell ill shortly after the earthquake and passed away. I have been living on my own ever since,” Isyana explained in a solemn voice. “But with this cash grant, I can buy books for my studies, and open a food stall in front of my house. I am hoping this will make me more independent.”

Another recipient of the cash grant is 60-year-old Ibu Dinar from the neighbouring village of Bantaya. The earthquake destroyed her house and all her possessions, leaving her with nothing. “I’m going to use this cash grant to replace all the items I had lost,” she said with a broad grin.  “I don’t even have any plates in my house anymore, so this cash is very useful for me, and I can now buy new plates, drinking glasses and other home appliances.”

It has been over a year since the recovery efforts for communities began, yet many are still experiencing challenges and difficulties as they rebuild their lives. “Cash assistance can help families meet their most important, immediate needs,” explained Asep Mulyadi from the Indonesian Red Cross, who was overseeing the registrations and helping to provide information to the villagers. “Most of them will use the money to pay for their children’s schooling, pay their rent and debts, and help them restart their livelihoods and replace the things they have lost.”

This operation in Palu is made possible with support from the following donors and partners:

American Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Austrian Red Cross, Belgian Red Cross (Francophone), British Red Cross, French Red Cross, German Red Cross, IFRC at the UN Inc (Coca Cola), IFRC at the UN Inc (Tides Foundation), IFRC at the UN Inc, Japanese Red Cross Society, Korean Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, OPEC Fund For International Development, Swedish Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross, Taiwan Red Cross Organisation, USAID