Indonesia: A Response to the Victims of Cyclone Seroja

When NTT and Timor Leste, predominantly Christian, celebrated Easter, flash floods hit the entire Timor mainland, especially Adonara, Lembata, Kupang, Malaka, Alor, Sabu, Rote, Sumba, and Dili-Timor Leste. The disaster occurred on Sunday, April 4, 2021, due to the tropical cyclone Seroja. Strong winds toppled people’s houses and various public infrastructures such as churches, office buildings, and markets. Falling trees covered the streets, which resulted in a traffic jam and electricity and internet interruptions. High sea waves tore apart ships and fishing boats. Cold lava from the volcano flowed and hit residential areas, and landslides wiped out the residents’ villages. The number of reported deaths was as many as 182 people, and many were still missing. The number of victims is undoubtedly higher. The calamity destroyed 52,793 homes in 17 regencies and cities.

There have been various acts of compassion for victims from Indonesia and abroad; compassion across faiths, ethnicities, regions, both from civil society and from the government and various other organizations. These acts are hope amid despair, light in the darkness, and resurrection in death. Easter momentum in its truest sense.

VIVAT International Indonesia, together with its partners – JPIC/JPR SSpS, SVD, and SCJ – worked to find solutions and help ease the affected communities’ suffering.  They raised funding for emergency response, offered their houses to serve as refugee camps, volunteered to provide medical and psychological assistance, and distributed face masks. To facilitate the distribution of aid, the JPIC established various disaster emergency management centers. It is astounding that so many people in the country help even though they are experiencing economic difficulties due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Agust Duka SVD – Indonesia