Report on the situation in Indonesia – volunteers are shocked

by Christian Battscheider/ RBU, 2009/10/08

After the severe earthquake that hit Sumatra last week, humedica-volunteers are currently delivering medical aid to the victims of the disaster and distributing vital relief items in the areas around the city of Padang. After the first days of their relief work, humedica-coordinator Christian Batscheider sent us a report that describes everyday life after the disaster.

“This morning, we got up at 6 o’clock after only five hours of sleep, had a short breakfast and then loaded drugs, dressing material and our medical equipment into the cars. With nine vehicles, we take off for Pariaman. We benefit from the first hours of the journey to get some more rest. Then, our mission begins.

Dullah has lost all his belongings. Foto: humedica/ Christian Batscheider

In Pariaman we turn left into a side-valley, which is about 15 km long. To the right and left of the road, there are mostly small villages, or rather what is left of them. 80% of the houses have been destroyed. Adults are sitting in front of the destroyed buildings, some have already begun repairing them. Surprisingly happy children are collecting money from the occupants of passing cars in brown cardboxes.

We’re touched by the destruction we see and it’s painful to leave these villages behind us without helping. Yet our destination for today is the more distant village of Simpang Lapang. Sporadically, we spot some blue plastic tarps that have been handed out by humedica and set up by the local people in their gardens. Below, they have put the few belongings which they have been able to salvage from their damaged houses.

Our route turns out to be more difficult than we had assumed. Mudslides and cracks in the asphalt surface prevent us from getting ahead faster. The mood in the car is subdued. It is painful to know that these people have lost almost everything.

Mountain roads have been swept and destroyed by mudslides. Foto: humedica/ Christian Batscheider

In Simpang Lapang, it is reported to us that in the villages further up in the mountains, no medical aid has been provided so far. The road leading there is passable by foot only, since half of it has slid down into the valley. Deep cracks in the asphalt do not inspire confidence. Without further ado, the 15 members of our medical team shoulder the boxes with medical equipment and head off.

The temperature of 35 degrees in the shade and high humidity make our walk exhausting. We don’t take the time to enjoy the wonderful scenery. As we pass a police post, my Philippine colleagues (in Bavaria I work as a police officer) help us and transport the drugs in their pick-up as far as the next impassable road.

Here again: enormous mudslides have torn the road into the valley. Locals have treaded a path across an adjacent palm field. Before we reach the mudslide, we meet a Hungarian rescue team that informs us that there are 120 injured people in the villages we are heading for. We don’t hesitate, shoulder our boxes again and walk on.

Rescuers are working tirelessly to provide the victims of the quake with relief items. Foto: humedica

Once we have reached the next village, we decide to set up our mobile clinic and begin with the treatment of the injured and ill people. Five members of the humedica-team set off to the next village in order inform themselves about the situation there.

The situation is similar. A mudslide of about 300m length has swept the road and adjacent houses. Family members and a local rescue team are still working tirelessly to rescue people buried under the rubble. A strong scent of decay lets us suppose, however, that some people have already died.

As we reach the village of Kota Tingri after an exhausting march, we are shocked. The village is situated on a mountain plateau in the jungle. To the right and left side, big parts of the village are missing. Mountainsides slipped down during the quake. Numerous houses or rather the remains of them are scattered at the bottom of the valley.

Mudslides have destroyed whole villages – their inhabitants are faced with ruin. Foto: humedica/ Christian Batscheider

Again, some people are desperately trying to find family members buried under the rubble, supported by a small Indonesian rescue team. Survivors tell us that 40% of the inhabitants died in the quake. The remaining inhabitants are sitting on bamboo mats, traumatized, watching the work of rescuers with an apathetic gaze. First medical treatment has already been provided in this village two days after the quake, but people have been waiting for food for 5 days."

Here again, humedica is making an important contribution in providing medical care for the victims of the earthquake.

Thanks to your donations we have already been able to help many people. Yet we still depend on further donations in order to be able to continue our aid measures.

      Reference „Earthquake Sumatra
      Account 47 47
      Bank code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

oder donate online via the following link.

Dr. Tobias Kees working in Sumatra as a humedica volunteer. Foto: humedica

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