September 3 2009

SOS Children's Villages helps earthquake victims in Indonesia

03/09/2009 - SOS Children's Villages Indonesia has started providing emergency relief to victims of the earthquake that hit the Indonesian island of Java on 2 September. All the children, co-workers, mothers and SOS Children's Villages facilities are safe.

Photo: SOS Archive
The earthquake sent terrified residents running out into the streets - Photo: SOS Archives

Shortly after the earthquake hit on Wednesday afternoon, leaving many dead and thousands homeless in the hills of West Java, co-workers of SOS Children's Villages began to provide emergency supplies to people in the village of Pangalengan, some 30 kilometres from the town Bandung. Nearly 50 percent of the houses here have been flattened.

According to Gregor Nitihardjo, the head of SOS Children's Villages of Indonesia, by Thursday morning about 1400 adults and 360 children had taken refuge in temporary shelters put up by voluntary organisations. SOS Children's Villages Indonesia is distributing food, baby milk, tea, medicine, blankets and drinking water to the shocked survivors huddling under plastic tarpaulins. Co-workers from Yogyakarta have been bringing tents, mats, milk, green beans, clothes, toys and other essential items.

Photo: SOS Archives
Even people whose houses are still standing sleep outside, for fear of aftershocks - Photo: SOS Archives

To improve living conditions, and in agreement with the authorities, SOS Children's Villages has begun the process of setting up a base camp and a children's centre in the village, as well as a kitchen focused on ensuring the children in particular are properly fed. But work does not stop here: "We are going to other places also and after we assess the situation, we may provide initial relief to the victims, focusing on children," said Nitihardjo.

With the help of some of the women from the village, co-workers of SOS Children's Villages cooked Kolak for the muslim community, who are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan and therefore do not eat any food before sundown. Kolak is a highly nutritious sweet dish made of fruits mixed with coconut milk and sugar.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Java just before three in the afternoon (0755 GMT), and even though the epicenter was some 115 kilometres off the south coast, the tremors were felt as far away as Bali, some 700 kilometres to the east. At least 57 people died in the quake, and the toll is feared to rise further.