A Silver Lining to the Dark Cloud of Last Fall’s Central Sulawesi Earthquake

CWS Indonesia | June 16, 2019

Stofan and his son, Alva Stevano. Photo: CWS

Stofan and his youngest son stand outside of their T-shelter. Photo: CWS

September 28, 2018 started as a normal Friday, a non-workday, for Stofan as he enjoyed a game of football with his friends and spent some quality time with his oldest son. Then, the day became far from normal as the earth shook and the land moved when an earthquake hit. Luckily, Stofan was close to his home so he could reach his wife and one-year-old son and get to safety with them. Sadly, many others were not as lucky.

After the earthquake and tsunami, since nothing was left of their village, Stofan, his family, and his neighbors lived under plastic tarpaulins in a temporary encampment. Seeking some privacy, Stofan built something a bit more substantial from usable debris from his house. In fact, the hut was very cramped and unbearably hot, but Stofan remained positive. “There are other people who lost their families. I only lost my home. My family is still here, so I am lucky and blessed”.

In late February, CWS began working with communities to build transitional “T” shelters so families could move from their emergency tarpaulin leantos and tents as they continue to hope for new and permanent houses. Stofan stepped right up to work to learn to help build “T” shelters. In the training activities, he learned and practiced what he would need to build his own shelter. One day he admitted, “I never thought I would have a place to call home again. We don’t have savings; and after the disaster I lost my job as a handyman in Palu. I have many people depending on me: my wife and kids, my parents and my wife’s parents too. The money we have is barely enough to get by day to day”. For sure there was not money to build a home. So, the project to build transitional housing was a blessing to Stofan and thousands of others. Because his work on his own shelter was so good, Stofan became a construction group leader. After he finished his own home, Stofan monitored others’ construction. Now, while he works his family is sheltered in a standard “T” shelter to which he added a kitchen my reusing the remains from his old house – again!

In talking about his months-long journey from late September to early May, Stofan shared these thoughts: “I learned a lot, including new carpentry skills, which I can use to help others. Having CWS staff on hand to help us is good, too”. Noting that he’d rather have not had the disaster happen at all, he recognizes a kind of ‘silver lining’ to the very dark clouds of eight months ago. He has new skills that he can use into the future.

In recent months, dozens of community members and builders from six villages have learned to build T-shelters. To date, CWS has supported 220 T-shelters in one of the hardest hit areas around Palu; another 106-shelters are under construction now.

For more information contact mkoeniger@cwsglobal.org

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