AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana

Christian charity supports thousands left homeless one year after earthquake

Sat 28 Sep 2019
By Ruth Sax

One year since a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Palu on Sulawesi island in Indonesia on 28th September 2019 Tearfund are helping families rebuild their lives, as 57,000 people face homelessness.

The Christian relief and development agency has been responding in the region since the earthquake and tsunami hit, delivering life-saving aid and helping people build new homes and businesses. 

4,300 people were killed and 190,000 were left in need of assistance when the earthquake hit, which triggered not only a tsunami, but also liquefaction, a phenomenon which caused whole villages to be swallowed up by the earth.



It is not known how many bodies are still unaccounted for, but flags placed among the rubble indicate where those still not recovered may be buried deep under the rubble and mud. 

Now a year on, 57,000 people are still homeless, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cresecent (IFRC). For survivors like Suparjo, aged 60 and his wife Ina, aged 64 , who escaped with only their lives and each other, recovery has meant an entirely new start.

The couple fled Palu when their house was destroyed by liquefaction following the earthquake. They have since been living in a temporary shelter in a camp in Pombewe, surviving on food donations and in March joined Tearfund’s cash programme, receiving funds to start a small business making banana chips, which with they are selling in Palu and in nearby kiosks.

They are now earning enough to support themselves and saving to repair their house. Suparjo said: “We lost everything but we want to continue living. Me and my wife, we only think about surviving.  Banana chips may not bring a lot of profit, but it is a steady income”.

Tearfund has supported over 30,000 people in Sulawesi, with thousands having received help through cash programming and food donations, hygiene kits and emergency healthcare. Tearfund is building built new permanent homes and is training masons to ensure they are skilled in earthquake-resistant construction.

“Recovery is gradual. So much of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed. Many people are still homeless,” Tearfund’s Disaster Management Lead for Asia, Sanjeev Bhanja told Premier.

“We have 48 homes under construction and through these building projects Tearfund is training masons to be equipped with the skills to build earthquake resistant homes and be able to earn a living now and in the future. 

“People are continuing to live with the trauma of what they experienced and the pain of losing family members and friends.

“Tearfund’s partners are providing ongoing psychosocial support to those affected. We are also providing training to help improve community preparedness in the event of future disasters.”


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