Lombok Island, a popular tourist destination in Indonesia, has been struck by ongoing earthquakes since the end of July 2018. The residents on the island are living in constant fear, worrying that their houses may be toppled by the continuous tremors. In early September, Tzu Chi Indonesia held its second wave of relief distribution and free clinics for the quake-stricken residents.
Medical relief for sick and injured victims
During Tzu Chi’s second relief mission, three free clinics were each conducted in Jelimanireng, Wihara Jaya Wijaya, and Pamenang, while aid supplies were distributed in Sembalun.
Although there were very limited spaces in the tents where the free clinics were held, the medical teams worked unitedly and put in their best efforts to serve the patients. Two of the local TIMA* doctors even took the initiative to move outside a tent to treat their patients, making space for the other medical volunteers and patients who needed it more.
*TIMA: Tzu Chi International Medical Association
The free clinics were visited by many who sustained injuries from the quake disaster. Attentive medical volunteers swiftly disinfected their wounds and bandaged them to prevent further infection. Due to the overwhelming number of patients, there were not enough tables and chairs for everyone; even a drug cabinet was used as a table.
An elderly man holding a tree branch for support was sent to one of the free clinics by his neighbours. In addition to providing medical treatment and medication for him, the medical volunteers also gave him a new crutch to help him walk. As he looked at his new crutch, the old man broke into a wide smile and thanked the volunteers. His beautiful smile touched the volunteers’ hearts.
Meanwhile, a group of children were seen loitering near the clinic, and the volunteers could sense the fear and insecurity in their eyes. Two of the volunteers went forward to interact with the children, giving them encouragement and support to soothe their fear and anxiety.
After the free clinic ended, the volunteers led everyone in singing the song, “Prayer”, to pray for Lombok and for a disaster-free world.
Delivering much needed aid to a remote mountain town
On the other side of Lombok, Tzu Chi volunteers loaded aid materials into four trucks to be delivered to Sembalun, a mountain town in the north east of the island. It took about two and a half hours for the volunteers to drive there. Along the way, they saw that many of the local residents had set up tents outside their homes as they were afraid to stay indoors, and some even made small campfires to keep themselves warm in the cold mountain temperatures.
After the volunteers arrived in Sembalun, they were assisted by some Indonesia military personnel, who helped with unloading the aid materials from the trucks. Yang Chang Yao, Tzu Chi Indonesia’s emergency rescue team leader said, “As the weather is very cold in this region, we are distributing blankets, sarongs and canvas sheets to the residents, and priority will be given to the women and children. We hope that these items can help everyone resume a normal life.”
The village chief, Harmini, expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Tzu Chi for travelling this far to such a remote area to provide assistance to the quake survivors. Due to a lack of heavy machinery to remove the quake debris, the locals could only clear it with their bare hands. Harmini said, “The residents are still afraid of staying indoors, and it has affected their daily work and life.”
Disaster victim Inajani’s husband is a farmer. Their family of seven managed to escape from their home when the earthquake struck. Although they managed to stay unharmed, they were in urgent need of material aid. Inajani told the volunteers after receiving aid from them: “Thanks to Allah! We really need these items, because it is very difficult to earn a living here now. These things are very helpful to us!”
Yang Chang Yao said, "We have carried out a disaster assessment in this area and found that Sembalun is a relatively remote town where traffic is inconvenient. Hence, the residents lack the assistance of charitable organisations. This is why we decided to distribute aid here."
Over the following few days, more teams of Tzu Chi volunteers would travel to other towns and villages to bring aid and care to those affected by the earthquakes, taking turns to hold aid distributions and free clinics with the limited time they had.