Sulawesi: noble workers or do-gooders?
An international aid group is urging Australians to do more to help Indonesia as it recovers from natural disasters on the islands of Sulawesi and Lombok.
Indonesia has a population of more than 260 million, Australia 25 million. Indonesia is hit with yet another national disaster killing more than 1,500 so far. Ms Loch, from Mollymook on the state’s South Coast, said she had never experienced an earthquake before, she was holidaying in Bali at the time. “I don’t think Australians realise the extent of the damage. It just breaks your heart,” she said. Kain Sissons, is a surfer, from Wollongong in NSW, he said he was surprised by the level of destruction on the islands. Mr Sissons is the Australian project manager for the charity Waves for Water, a franchise charity based in California that offers clean water around the world. Australia is in the middle of perhaps the most crippling drought in living memory. Our crops are failing, our cattle starving and country towns dying. Rural towns have begged people not to forget them. They ask you to visit their towns, have a beer, buy a pie, even stay in their caravan park. I doubt Ms Loch heard much about that while having diner in Bali. And, there is no record of Mr Sissons spreading a bit of charity in Australia by buying a bale of hay, for example. What about the old maxim, “charity begins at home?” Come to think of it, I don’t remember Indonesia coming to Australia’s aid at any time. Too busy buying armament I suppose.
Calls for Australians to offer more support to disaster recovery in Lombok and Sulawesi
The death toll on Sulawesi has risen to 1,550 people after a 7.5-magnitude earth quake triggered a tsunami last month.
More than 70,000 people have been evacuated and thousands more are injured or missing.
It follows a series of powerful earthquakes on the island of Lombok which killed nearly 500 people in August.
The quakes could be felt on the neighbouring island of Bali, where New South Wales woman Susan Loch was enjoying dinner in a restaurant with her family.
“The staff yelled at us ‘earthquake, run,'” Ms Loch said.
“I felt my feet starting to vibrate and my sister felt the floor moving.”
Ms Loch, from Mollymook on the state’s South Coast, said she had never experienced an earthquake before.
“It was scary. We had no idea what was going to happen in the next five minutes, the next hour, the next day,” she said.
Concerned by the devastation reported, Ms Loch returned to the Bali last month to deliver 10 water purification devices to locals still recovering from the disaster.
“It’s a small amount but it will give them fresh drinking water,” she said.
“We all take it for granted, but they will be able to drink safely from muddy pools of water.
“They were just extremely grateful, they couldn’t thank me enough.”
Ms Loch’s latest visit to Indonesia coincided with the devastating tsunami on Sualwesi.
“I don’t think Australians realise the extent of the damage. It just breaks your heart,” she said.
“A lot of us travel to Bali and we just need to help them.”
Australians urged not to turn a blind eye
Waves for Water is a not-for-profit organisation which offers clean water to communities in need around the world.
The charity’s Australian project manager, Kain Sissons, has been delivering the organisation’s water purification devices to affected parts of the country.
The surfer, from Wollongong in NSW, said he was surprised by the level of destruction on the islands.
“Rubble debris everywhere, buildings flattened, a lot of homes half standing and locals sleeping in tents outside their homes or in refugee camps,” he said.
“Even though I work with an NGO and liaise with people for disaster relief, I was actually beside myself when I arrived there at how bad it actually is.”
Mr Sissons said many Australian’s seem to be oblivious to the damage to the popular tourist destination.
“It’s our playground, it’s our backyard,” he said.
“We go there and enjoy it, whether it’s our once a year family holiday or it’s a surf trip.
“I think we shouldn’t be turning a blind eye.”
He is now calling for Australians not to abandon travel to the island but consider what more than can do to help.
“Tourism is a vital part to their economy, but when I was travelling through Lombok the resorts there were empty,” he said.
“There were no western people there which means there’s no money coming for the local people.
“So can we be doing more, we [should] be doing more.”