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Indonesia earthquake

A major earthquake magnitude 7.6 on the Richter scale struck West Sumatra on Wednesday 30 September causing havoc and major damage to the provincial capital of Padang and Pariaman District. 

More than 1000 people have been killed and the death toll is expected to rise with thousands of others still be trapped under rubble.

ACT International members in Indonesia report thousands of houses as heavily damaged or destroyed by fire, several hospitals destroyed, and many shopping centres and stores also burnt down. According to the local government, around 80% of the houses in the area have been destroyed.

Immediate humanitarian needs identified by CWS partners through ACT International include tents due to heavy rain, medical teams and additional equipment to help with search and rescue of survivors trapped in buildings. The Government of Indonesia has declared that an emergency response should be prepared for a period of up to two months.

CWS partners are providing food, blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits, family-size tents, buckets and relief kits for infants.  They have also sent in medical teams to treat at least 2000 people. Mobile clinics are being set up not only to treat patients but to provide post-operative care.

Donate online or phone 0800 74 73 72. Post cheques to Indonesia Earthquake Appeal, CWS, PO Box 22652 Christchurch 8142. 


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A Congregation Opens Its Hearts and Doors

Rebecca Young, ACT International, 7/10/09


Calm, handy, responsive, and firm are words that come to mind in describing pastor Michiko Saren, who serves the Efrata congregation of the West Indonesia Protestant Church in Padang. Fortunately no one in her congregation of 1,040 members suffered loss of life in the earthquake, but many sustained physical injuries and damage to their homes.

With deft hands and a strong sense of responsibility, this energetic woman faithfully serves a congregation rocked by this recent disaster. She is in constant motion although she admits she is often tired as she acts on behalf of the people of her new hometown of Padang. A native of North Sulawesi (about 3000km from Padang), she served a church in Kalimantan for many years before being assigned to Padang just two months ago.

When the earthquake hit, Michiko was in her manse on the grounds of the Efrata church building, where she has only be living for a few weeks. “When an earthquake comes, no one can avoid it. We can only hope and pray,” she reflected. She had already experienced a strong earthquake (6.9 on the Richter scale) this past August when newly arrived to begin her work here. She recalled, “When that earthquake started, I looked out my window to see if some tractor was doing roadwork.” Before she could think the question through, she felt the ground move like an ocean wave beneath her feet. She felt dizzy and unable to do anything except surrender to it.

So when the most recent earthquake cause such a great deal of damage to Padang and its environs, Michiko didn’t think twice before opening up the doors of the church to volunteers from around the world but mostly from Padang and her own congregation. The church fellowship hall has become the distribution center for aid, serving a thousand folks a day, at night becoming the sleeping quarters for male volunteers. Michiko’s manse has become the temporary sleeping area for the female volunteers, and the kitchen serves fifty to seventy people per meal three times a day.

ACT International is running the distribution center at Michiko’s church. It made the connection through its partnership with the synod of the West Indonesia Protestant Church.  The atmosphere at the distribution post is very pleasant. Whoever comes to visit here to request aid will receive friendly, efficient service. The church’s outside kitchen is always ready to serve and never quiet from the constant chatter of the cooks. With great skill and ease, they prepare food for the volunteers, the church members affected by the earthquake, and the church’s neighbors. Amazingly, the cooks do not ever seem to tire and are always ready with a smile for everyone who needs them.

”Let them come and ask for food, just give it to them. Don’t worry about the cost! We’ll find the funds somehow,” Michiko told her busy cooks. Michiko and her congregation with their warm hospitality have opened their doors and hearts to the public in a remarkable way. Their faithfulness in this hour of need will not soon by forgotten by the people of Padang who have suffered such a traumatic disaster.