INDONESIA I never thought that we would be this lucky

 Emergency Response
 8th Oct 2009

By Wiwik Widyastuti, Korong Barang-barangan, West Sumatra

Behind hills and lines of trees, perching on the edge of a cliff in the highlands 45 kilometers from the city of Pariaman, the village of Korong Barang-barangan is effectively hidden from the world. The village is not connected to the power or water grids. So when the earthquake struck in the afternoon of September 30, causing massive damage to the infrastructure and houses, the community silently survived in their own modest way, without any help from anybody.

38-year-old Sari Nayan has lived in the village since the day she was born. Her parents, her grandparents, and her great-grandparents were all born here. Sari lives with her husband Jafri, 45, a farmer, and their three children; Resmon, 12, Sapriyanto, 7, and Sri Wahyuni, their 4-year-old daughter. The family’s home and fields sit close to the cliff’s edge.

“My whole family was in the playing field when the earthquake happened, watching people playing volley ball. Then, the ground started to shake,” Sari says, while fixing her green head scarf. When the shaking stopped, the family ran to their house to find it had been badly damaged. Feeling hopeless, she could not stop crying. “We have lost our home.”

The big tremor not only destroyed their home, but also their clean water storage. The profile tank at the back of their house that the family used to harvest rain water was shattered. “For seven days, we live outside the house, fearing to stay inside. Even if some walls still there, we are afraid that they will collapse with only a gentle shake.”

CARE’s Emergency Response Team arrived in Korong Barang-barangan with relief supplies on the sixth day after the earthquake. “We found out that the village had not received any help due to difficult access and its remote location,” says Adjie Fachrurrazi, CARE Emergency Response Coordinator in Indonesia. “And when we knew, we rushed to come.”

The team brought CARE Packages of hygiene kits, blankets, jerry cans and water purifying solution for the people of Korong Barang-barangan.

“I never thought that we will be this lucky. Our village is so remote, I was hopeless that people will find us here,” Sari says with a smile. “CARE is the first to help.”

Seven days have passed since the earthquake happened. Sari Yani is still so traumatized she does not yet have the courage to go outside the village. While before she used to go to the market to buy foodstuff, she now just makes use of what is available in the field.

Since their water tank was also destroyed, they now have to walk a half kilometer down the hill to get clean water. Every morning and afternoon the whole family marches to the river. Supriyanto carries a 10 litre jerry can while Sari carries a bucket full of dirty clothes and dishes to wash. Resmon carries a 5 litre jerry can.

“It is not as difficult to walk down the hill carrying empty jerry cans, but it is very hard to climb up with a bucket full of wet clothes and jerry cans filled with 15 litres of water,” Sari says while flexing the sore muscles of her right arm. “We are exhausted.”

Sari Nayan hopes now that life will return to normal or possibly even better than before the earthquake happened. “Now, after we know that there are people out there who care, we don’t feel so isolated anymore. I hope they can help us get a better life - a life where my children can have a place to call home again.”

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