Helping disaster victims rebuild their lives
After a horrific tsunami struck Indonesia’s Aceh in December 2004, Tzu Chi built permanent housing for 2,568 families in three communities in the province. In addition to the residential units, the Foundation also built nine schools and other public facilities in the housing estates. With such prior experience in post-disaster rebuilding efforts in Indonesia, the Foundation has provided emergency aid supplies and medical relief to the victims of the recent tsunami and earthquake disasters in Sulawesi and Lombok, and is in the process of setting up tent shelters, and hygiene and sanitation facilities for them.
On 15th October 2018, Tzu Chi Indonesia, Indofood (a major Indonesian company involved in the food industry), the Eka Tjipta Foundation (a non-profit organisation founded by Sinar Mas Group’s Eka Tjipta Widjaja's family), and the Indonesian military signed a memorandum of cooperation to build 3,000 homes for the victims of the disasters.
The 12-month construction project has the aim of helping the affected residents settle their lives and regain their livelihoods. It also includes schools, hygiene facilities, mosques, activity centres, children’s playgrounds, etc., and the housing estates would be built in Lombok, and Sulawesi’s Palu, Donggla, and Sigi.
The memorandum was signed by the commander of the Indonesian National Armed Fources, Hadi Tjahjanto (pictured below: second from the right); Tzu Chi Indonesia’s deputy CEO, Sugianto Kusuma (second from the left); Indofood’s representative, Franciscus Welirang (first from the left); and Eka Tjipta Foundation’s representative, Gandi Sulistiyanto Soeherman (first from the right).
Hadi Tjahjanto said, “We’re very grateful for Tzu Chi’s swift response. We’ll be building 3,000 homes for the disaster victims. I’ve personally witnessed the devastation in Lombok and Palu, so I’m very happy that this rebuilding project is going to take place soon.”
Currently, the Indonesian military has started working with the government to search for suitable locations for the housing estates, and also plans to send 800 skilled construction personnel to Lombok and Donggala.
Tzu Chi Indonesia’s deputy CEO, Sugianto Kusuma, recalled Dharma Master Cheng Yen say that in the event of a disaster, when people come together in love and kindness to render help to those affected, the positive impact can mitigate future disasters.
“Dharma Master Cheng Yen often reminds us that we must build the type of houses that we want to live in ourselves. So, there is a stringent planning process in place and the houses will be built with the loving efforts and support of many people. We hope that more entrepreneurs would render their help and support, and join in the efforts of Tzu Chi and the Indonesian military,” he said.
This is the first aid project pledged by NGOs for disaster relief in Lombok and Palu. Tzu Chi has also requested the Indonesian military to liaise with the local hospitals about establishing partnerships with TIMA (Tzu Chi International Medical Association), to set up free clinics for the sick and injured victims.
Global support for the rebuilding efforts
Indofood is a long-term partner of Tzu Chi’s humanitarian aid efforts. Franciscus Welirang said that the company would bear one third of the cost for the post-disaster reconstruction of 3,000 homes.
“We follow the instructions of Dharma Master Cheng Yen, that we need the contributions of everyone to cultivate this field of blessings. Only then are we able to sow blessings for our society,” shared Eka Tjipta Foundation’s representative, Gandi Sulistiyanto Soeherman.
Tzu Chi’s chief coordinator for the housing project, Chen Feng Ling, said that the Foundation would be sending personnel that specialise in post-disaster reconstruction work to Lombok and Palu soon, and that the funds for this project would come from the loving hearts of people from over 30 countries. Tzu Chi volunteers in these countries have kicked started fundraisers to raise funds for the rebuilding efforts.
At the end of the ceremony for the signing of the memorandum, everyone present clasped their hands and sincerely prayed for the disaster victims. A number of local media companies were present to cover this historic event, which would bring hope to the lives of the disaster-stricken residents in Lombok and Palu.
Click to read about Tzu Chi’s rebuilding efforts in Aceh, Indonesia, after the South Asian Tsunami:
Aceh Five Years Later—Tzu Chi built permanent housing for 2,568 families in three communities