“The ground opened up and turned liquid”

CWS Indonesia | December 24, 2018

Henny Putong (second from the right) with Louis Henley, Second Secretary (Development Cooperation), Australian Embassy Jakarta (right) during a recent visit. Photo: CWS

“The mud flowed and destroyed our house and dragged it and other houses, or what was left of them, away.” Henny Putong, who is 43, vividly recalls the moment on September 28th when her life and that of her neighbors turned upside down and their village, Jono Oge, disappeared.

NOTE: What happened geologically when the earthquake struck Central Sulawesi, and the land became something like quicksand, is known as soil liquefaction. It occurs when soil that is saturated with water loses strength and stiffness in response to stress – like the earthquake. So, soil that is ordinarily solid turns liquid.

Henny and her family now live in a camp not far from where Jono Oge once was. There 187 displaced families comprising 573 people living in the camp, where Henny is the coordinator – one of few women in that role. In fact, in 431 camp sites in three districts only 18.5% (80) have women in camp management roles. Before the earthquake Henny worked in the village administration office as the Head of Population Administration and Civil Registration. So, she was obviously well-suited to coordinate activities and services where she ended up living. She was also a farmer and had a small food shop. “Now it’s all gone, but we are lucky to have survived,” says Henny.

CWS started supporting Henny and the others from Jono Oge a few days after the disaster. “CWS was the first organization to supply much-needed water as there is no water source nearby and people to walk quite far to a river to get water. Thanks to CWS we now have a water tank that CWS refills daily with fresh water from a tanker truck”. In addition, with immediate commitments of external donor assistance from the ACT Alliance members, the Australian and United States governments, and other, including my individual Americans, CWS could provide hygiene kits; large water storage buckets and jerry cans; tarpaulins, mats and mosquito nets, and emergency solar lamps – not only for the people from Jono Oge, but from dozens of other villages destroyed or severely affected by the earthquake and its aftermath. Now, almost three months after the earthquake hit, CWS is still joining with other non-government organizations, and the Indonesian government, too, in continuing relief work with an eye toward early recovery initiatives in the new year.

For more information contact mkoeniger@cwsglobal.org

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