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Churches unite with one heart to shelter Indonesian tsunami survivors

As search and rescue efforts continue, Tearfund is working with a network of almost 40 Indonesian churches to provide temporary shelter and emergency kitchens for tsunami survivors.

Rev Krise Gosal, who is in Palu said: “Church leaders here are still looking for their families and congregations, as well as their neighbours. They are having to bury the dead. Survivors are hungry and need clean water to drink. Babies are crying for milk.

“We are asking our church networks to share the burden of the sufferings by donating food, tents and other supplies as well as funds. Churches in Indonesia are uniting with one heart to express their solidarity with the people in Palu, Donggala, and Sigi.

"Neighbouring churches further south have collected contributions from their interfaith communities, such as water, dry-foods, rice, clothes, baby supplies. But it is still very hard to get past landslides and damaged roads with supplies, and the loss of life is devastating.”
Tearfund’s partners have also deployed medical teams to the affected areas. One team includes emergency doctors and nurses and an orthopaedic surgeon – another will include a midwife.  

One church partner has opened an emergency shelter in Immanuel High School in Palu, but those serving in this centre are still too traumatised to sleep inside for fear of aftershocks and many are sleeping out in the open.

Liquefaction (when soil becomes saturated with water) is making the affected area extremely dangerous. Rev Krise Gosal describes the moment a church in Jono’oge was engulfed in destabilised soil:

“I visited the Sigi region and it was horribly smashed up. Roads destroyed, bridges broken, eight electric poles have all come down. I watched the church building in Jono’oge move away and disappear into the mud. The retreat centre was also swallowed in the mud and there were about 140 young people inside it at the time. They’d been at Bible camp. Only 40 people survived. Other church leaders told me how in Toboli, houses and a maternity clinic were literally sucked into the ground.”

Tearfund’s Head of Humanitarian Support, Oenone Chadburn, said: “Tearfund is deeply saddened to see the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami that has hit Indonesia. We are supporting church networks in their locally-led response and deploying expert assistance where appropriate and in coordination with the international response.

"Without swift humanitarian response and unless water and sanitation facilities are reestablished there is a high risk of disease outbreaks, especially now that Indonesia is entering a season of heavy rain.”

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