Life in Rural Indonesia Post Earthquake

HODR indonesia

I’ve finally scored one of the four computers at an internet cafe in some tiny town I don’t know the name of after several failed attempts spanning four days. The kids here like to play shooter games which means that 30+ foreigners trying to get online have some serious problems doing so. But I’ve finally landed a computer and am sitting on the floor in some strange pink and light blue booth type thing, typing away while being surrounded by curious kids. Not exactly the best working environment but I figured a blog post was in order so I’m powering through.

So I’ve been on Project SG in Indonesia for a week and in that time I’ve done a lot of salvage work and a bit of demolition work. Unsafe buildings in the area have been marked with pink tags and they need to come down and that’s where we come in. We’ve been working in teams to safely bring down large concrete houses with even larger tin roofs sitting on top. It’s easier said that done and there’s a lot more planning involved in destroying things than I ever would have imagined. After the demo is done, salvage teams come in and attempt to save as many building materials as possible, right down to the individual bricks. This means removing tin carefully from the wooden roof frames, saving as much wood as possible, taking out windows and doors and chinking mortar off of individual bricks to create a stack ready to use whenever they get money from the government to help them rebuild.

At the moment many people have build rudimentary structures out of salvaged pieces of their concrete homes. Some are living in these and some are staying with friends or family but everyone is waiting for some money to rebuild their houses. Nobody seems to know when it’ll come but t’s early days still and people are confident they’ll be helped by their government. So right now, we’re concentrating on clearing their foundations and salvaging materials in preparation for a rebuild sometime soon, hopefully. The more materials we can salvage, the less people will need to spend on new materials when they are able to rebuild.

It’s the usual Hands On setup with a house crammed with eager and interesting people from all over the world. I’ve been able to catch up with friends from Haiti and meet plenty of new people and I’m loving it, as usual. It’s a different atmosphere than Haiti so far but people are still getting to know each other and this is the earliest I’ve ever been on a project. The lack of booze could also have something to do with it but Haiti was a bit crazy and I’m looking forward to a more low key deployment. The work here is also not quite as exciting and it’s hard to get pumped up about flattening someone’s home. Haiti was great because we were removing mud to allow people to move back in. Here we’re removing everything to allow people to rebuild but, in the meantime, they’re just left with an empty foundation and it’s quite sad to think about. But people are amazingly upbeat, at least on the surface, and they’re excited to have us there helping them. There’s more of a sense of community here than in Haiti which is uplifting.

The weather takes a bit of getting used to with one torrential downpour a day and no hope of drying clothes in the humid weather. It’s not fun getting soaked in the morning and getting to put wet socks and shoes on for the afternoon stint but I’m getting used to it. There’s also been a breakout of pink eye! About 12 of 30 people have come down with it and are walking around with red eyes. Everyone has developed a hand sanitising obsession so hopefully we’ll kick this soon. It’s sort of funny but I haven’t had it yet so I might not be laughing in a few days! Overall though I’m loving the experience here. The other volunteers are great, people in the community are wonderful, everything is super cheap, the food is delicious (so far), the area is beautiful, a lady next door makes delicious fresh fruit shakes and life is good!

I’m not expecting to be able to work at all for my first month here because I can’t bear coming back to this internet cafe more than once a week. When I go to Kuala Lumpur on December 5th though I plan to go into geek mode and work for a week straight. I will probably but an internet-enabled phone as well to bring back here.

So that’s the update! Until next time… whenever that might be.

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