Although she is not originally from the area, Nirwana Sai is now among tens of thousands of Central Sulawesi (Indonesia) earthquake and tsunami survivors. Somewhat ironically (or so it seems now) Nirwana, her husband and four kids left their home in South Sulawesi to look for a better life. Both parents were working toward that life at a tile distribution company in Palu. But then disaster struck. “Around 6 in the evening, we all felt the earth shake, and saw the ground started to split. We ran outside and on to the community football field”, recalls Nirwana. Soon it became clear that their small progress was lost and, just four days, Nirwana and her husband decided to move back to their hometown … to re-face the difficulties that made them to move in the first place.
It was lack of a dignified way to earn living wages for a family of six that prompted the move to Palu. And that fact, in an area dominated by subsistence farming that is being made harder by another kind of natural disaster: slow onset drought, had not changed. Still, because of the earthquake’s disastrous impact, Nirwana led her family home with a heavy heart, only to discover that there had been one change, at least!
Since she left, the DREAM initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction through Enhanced Adaptive Measures had taken off, and Nirwana joined right in with a climate adapted home garden to start. The produce helps her feed the family and earn a little money, which she used to join a savings and loan group right away. While waiting for a chance to take a loan, Nirwana planned, and studied business basics, to open a small kiosk. She also understood from surviving the Palu disaster, far more than most of the other women in her group did about huge sudden disasters. And she joined with them to understand how better to cope with small slow onset ones like the drought that has made farming in South Sulawesi increasingly more difficult and less profitable. “After the earthquake, I felt distressed. But through DREAM, I learned a lot about other kinds of disasters [like chronic drought]. This helped cope with the trauma of the earthquake”, says Nirwana. And she learned about moving on and continuing to learn and grow through DREAM to rebuild their life back home in Lembang Bau Tana.
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