Pak Kasino, his mother and youngest child, refugees in the Roh Kudus Church, Kebun Arum, Klaten
I’ve just visited Yogyakarta, where Mount Merapi erupted at the beginning of November. The media coverage may have dropped off, but for the people whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed the challenges have just begun.
The scale of loss is incredible. Tens of thousands of people have been affected. So many people have lost their homes, and their land can no longer be cultivated: the ground is covered by 5-10 centimetres of hardened volcanic ash, which means it will take years before anything can grow.
Refugee camps have been set up in districts close to the mountain for those who fled their homes. St Joseph’s Church in the Sleman district, led by Father Riyanto, has alone helped nearly 4,000 refugees since the eruptions.
Uncertainty about the future abounds. Pak Kasino, who sought refuge in the church with his mother, wife and three young children, told me that he doesn’t know what the future holds: “I don’t know what will happen after this. I don’t know whether I can continue mining. I might have to find another job.”
Another refugee said that he was too scared to return to his house, and that his daughter was still having nightmares about the eruptions.
But, amongst the confusion, loss and trauma, there are stories of solidarity. Dedicated volunteers from all walks of life have worked tirelessly to help those most in need. Thanks to them, our partner Karina KAS has distributed relief packages containing rice, oil and other staples to over 34,000 refugees.
Leonardus Amoristian, 24, an engineering graduate from West Java, is one of the volunteers. Along with two friends, Leo stayed in Yogyakarta for over a week and helped to establish a storage system for relief goods.
Many others have dedicated their time to helping those most affected by the eruptions. Countless housewives cooked rice parcels for refugees, and trained volunteers inspected devastated villages to check that no one was trapped in their homes.
It will take a long time, but, with the help of dedicated organisations and volunteers, people in Yogyakarta are slowly starting to rebuild their lives.
Posted by DiniW