Settled Down Like Rain

The situation is settling. My former radio show host, Orly, who lost a lot of her SMSed me that she was happy her family were alive, and that now they “just have to live without roofs”, as it would be impossible to rebuild it. How’s that for optimism?

My routine is to eat breakfast in the hotel and eavesdrop on the relief agencies’ talk of spreadsheets, written job descriptions, logistics needs, and introduce myself here and there where someone might decide I can offer something they understand that they need. I’ve met 5 big orgs thus far. Save the Children, finally, asked me to help them find some local sharp English speakers to help them set up their office and provide advice, translation, and logistics. I felt good to have them sorted out within the hour. Orly (above) and Sas (who helped me find my house way back when) were two of the three. It looks like Yuli’s cousin is the third.

Meanwhile, Yuli’s stories from last night include the following:

One village of rice farmers (most of the worst hit are rice farmers), had just finished a harvest, so they have rice. But their buildings fell down Saturday, and the pounding rains soaked their rice crop. They dried it in the hot baking sun today, cooked it, and ate it, and made themselves sick.

She saw a Kampung of wrecked homes backing on to a police station, and learned that no one from the station had offered any help. She passed a nearly empty tent provided by the government for a small village, and entered the next town nearby. When she told the homeless people in the fields of the next village to go to the tent, they said they were not allowed.

Two days before, Yuli’s brother Joko went south and eventually found a very young girl in a torn sleeveless top tugging at his pant leg. “Please I want my arms to be covered because I am cold.” And undoubtedly hungry. “Where is your mother,” he asked. “She is dead.” “Where is your father?” ” I don’t know. Somewhere in Saudi Arabia.” Later in the evening, listening to the rain, he decided to go back to her village. The family convinced him to form a family motorcade with food and supplies today. Ten motorcycles circled the southern half of the worst hit area, dropping off noodles, rice, water, milk, blankets, and clothing, all stimulated by that one little girl, whom they never found. They found the local victims becoming desperate, aggressive, and threatening in the presence of food on motorcycles. But today they will cook all morning, and head out again in the afternoon.

It’s warming to know that they cannot be the only family making this kind of effort under these conditions.


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