A recent narrow escape from disaster by students and teachers in the primary school in Lembang Rano, Tana Toraja, is a timely reminder of the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) projects. In October 2016 Lembang Rano village was hit by a landslide that cut off road access, disrupted the water supply, destroyed seven houses and damaged another 38; the landslide displaced more than 150 people in all.
Fields and gardens were buried in the landslide – or carried downhill by its force, which also damaged the Madrasah Ittidayah School, leaving cracks in the foundation as well as the floors and ceilings. According to the headmistress, Rante Mappasanda, the landslide has all her students on edge. “The children are all quite anxious when they are here since they know that, at any time, there can be an earthquake or landslide that could cause the walls to collapse. We have asked for new classrooms or solid repairs to the ones we now have; but we are still waiting for a response”.
Even as they wait for help to improve their school, 70-plus teachers and student students just came together to hear from District Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) and CWS staff about the Safe Schools concept and to learn the basics of what they themselves can do to make their school safer and, importantly, what they must do to protect themselves in the event of a disaster.
Kornelius Lapu Rura, who heads the BPBD prevention and preparedness unit made this comment after the meeting, “The Safe School activities don’t end with this information session – there are other activities that we will do together in the next few months so teachers and students can learn even more about how to make their school safer and how to protect themselves, and each other, too, when a disaster strikes.”