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Humanitarian Aid Efforts Underway in Sulawesi Following Tsunami

Following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tzu Chi Indonesia kicked-started its efforts to provide relief to disaster victims in the hard-hit city of Palu.

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A Tzu Chi volunteer handing over cash relief to a tsunami survivor in Sulawesi.

Volunteers from Tzu Chi Indonesia set up an emergency relief station with the assistance of the Indonesia military on 5th October 2018, and started providing medical relief for the injured, benefitting more than 30 patients on the first day.

The first round of aid supplies, including eco-blankets and Jing Si instant rice, which arrived in Jakarta from Taiwan on 4th October, were transported to the disaster area in two batches. One batch was sent by sea to Palu, while the other batch was delivered to the city by a local military aircraft. In addition to organising relief aid distributions, Tzu Chi volunteers also made care visits to the injured in makeshift wards set up in tent shelters and distributed cash relief to the latter.

“The emergency cash relief we provide is the most practical help for the injured victims and their family, as most people here have nothing left except the clothes that they are wearing. They have weak health conditions as they are still recovering from their injuries and trauma, and some of them are still waiting for their turn to undergo surgical treatment. The money given to them will help to cover their daily expenses and ease their financial burden,” shared Tzu Chi volunteer Chen Feng Ling.

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Tzu Chi volunteers distributing hot meals to tsunami survivors staying in a shelter in Palu, Sulawesi.

The streets that were once brimming with life are now in a mess after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami struck, with many homes left in ruins. A team of Tzu Chi volunteers that arrived in Palu headed to a local hospital, where they handed out emergency cash relief to the disaster victims while giving them emotional support to allay their fear and worries.

One of the local residents expressed her gratitude to Tzu Chi for the cash aid she had received, saying that it was very useful for her as she could use it to purchase the things that her children needed for school. Another patient said that he felt very happy and relieved as he could use the cash to purchase medicine. Although the emergency cash relief could meet the emergency needs of the disaster victims, there was a dire shortage of medical personnel to serve the sick and injured.

“Currently, we have more 1,000 patients in the hospital, but there are less than 40 medical staff members, which is truly insufficient, and this is really worrying,” said the deputy superintendent of the local hospital.

Some mothers who were very lucky to survive the disaster even delivered their babies in the disaster zone. A disaster victim from Lombok was one of these mothers, and she successfully delivered her third child at the medical relief station.

Her husband said, “My child was born amid the earthquake disaster. Thank God! Both the mother and child are safe. We couldn’t find any hospital and were prepared for the worse, because all the facilities and equipment have been destroyed.”

There were seven other mothers who gave birth at the station, and these new bundles of joy truly enlivened the atmosphere at the disaster zone!

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Several days after the earthquake and tsunami struck, the city of Palu is still full of ruins. This is a temporary shelter for the tsunami survivors.

Several days after the earthquake and tsunami hit Palu, there were still signs of destruction everywhere. The disaster survivors staying at a temporary shelter did not have sufficient food supplies, and some of them had even been starving for three days.

On 6th October, Tzu Chi Indonesia volunteers borrowed a space at a local Buddhist temple to cook hot food for the disaster survivors, supplying 1,300 hot meals each day. The meals were made of Tzu Chi’s Jing Si instant rice (curry flavour) and other vegetables.

“I heard that there is food distribution here, so I came to get the food. I am very grateful to be able to have hot meal at this time,” said Asima, a disaster victim.

“It would not be convenient for the disaster survivors if we only gave them uncooked rice, because they would have to find gas, cooking oil and other ingredients to cook a meal. This is why we decided to prepare hot meals with our instant rice and serve the food hot,” explained Tzu Chi volunteer Yao Jing Hua.

Besides helping to solve the most urgent livelihood issues of the disaster victims, Tzu Chi Indonesia has also expanded medical care to more affected areas, while some medical personnel remained at the medical relief station to continue serving the sick and injured residents. A group of medical volunteers went to the tent shelters in rural villages to provide free medical services to patients with mobility issues.

“Most of the survivors in the tents sustain injuries with festering wounds. Now, there are also patients with contagious disease, such as flu. Some patients suffering from chronic diseases are also running out of medication,” said a doctor from TIMA* Indonesia.

*TIMA: Tzu Chi International Medical Association

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