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Palu Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster Relief Report

Thank you to everyone who made donations to assist us in supporting the people of Palu following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami which struck the Central Sulawesi Region on September 29th and 30th 2018. All donations went towards helping those affected to survive the immediate aftermath of the event and to begin rebuilding their lives.

Palu Disaster relief
Children learning in a school tent donated by Unicef

In total we received 100 million Rupiah (equivalent to US $7,000 or €6,200) from staff, guests and industry partners from around the world. Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed.

On September 28th a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit Palu (77km from the epicenter) and was followed shortly after by a tsunami causing liquefaction which resulted in devastation for Palu and its surrounding villages.

Palu relief
Supplies collected by Lembeh Foundation were shipped to Palu in the immediate aftermath of the disaster

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster the Lembeh Foundation donated 5 million Rupiah which was used to buy much needed supplies including rice, noodles, blankets, baby formula and diapers. The supplies were sent to Palu by an aid boat from our local harbor town of Bitung. Lembeh Resort staff and Lembeh Foundation team members later donated clothing, flip-flops and blankets and raised a further 10 million Rupiah which bought further supplies to send to the area as emergency relief continued. A third consignment of supplies was sent shortly after and driven to the area by one of our Lembeh Foundation team member’s (Roy Pelealu) church group.

Lembeh Foundation Palu
Three consignments of suplies were sent to the region prior to Lembeh Foundation team members arriving on site

By the beginning of October donations, which were being gratefully received from around the world, had reached 100 million Rupiah. After several brainstorming sessions considering how to allocate the funds it was decided that Friska Madundang from the Lembeh Foundation and Melky from Lembeh Resort, would fly to Palu. They would assess on the ground what was needed and how the money could be put to best use for the people of Palu.

Lembeh Foundation
Friska (left) and Melky (right) donating school uniforms at Petobo Village School

In keeping with one of Lembeh Foundations core goals, to make education accessible for those in need, it was decided to allocate 40 million Rupiah to the funding of essential school supplies which included school uniforms, notebooks, pens, pencils etc. Upon arriving in Palu, with 181kg of school supplies, Friska and Melky were faced with two major challenges. Their first challenge was deciding how to distribute the supplies in the most effective way possible to those who were most in need, and second was dealing first hand with the devastation around them.

This is Friska’s account of their 3 day mission in Palu:

“On the 10th October we flew to Palu and we didn’t know what to find or what to expect when we arrived. We knew the circumstances would be difficult and we just needed to focus as much as we could. I have never visited a region so soon after such a large scale natural disaster. Once we landed we needed to rent a car and find somewhere to stay – which was a feat in itself.

Palu tsunami
Prior to the disaster this was a residential area of Palu

On the first day we drove around trying to find out what we could buy. Most of the shops had been destroyed and the people were desperate. There was a heavy army presence to help set up new temporary settlements and to try to keep order in the area. We had 181kg of school supplies worth 40 million Rupiah and we had another 60 million Rupiah to spend on items once we had assessed the situation on the ground.

Lolu school Unicef tent
Children from Lolu School after receiving school supplies from Lembeh Foundation

We had already made contact with a school in Lolu (SDN Lolu Biromani in Palu) where they had 164 students (previously 165 but one had been a victim of the disaster). Unicef had donated tents which were being used as classrooms and we were able to donate uniforms, 100 notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers and backpacks. When we arrived at the school it was extremely tough – the children had nothing and many had missing parents who had yet to be located following the tsunami.

Another school we went to was the Balaroa Village school. This is an elementary school and we supplied school uniforms and food supplies. We heard many stories here about what had happened and how parents were missing and presumed dead in many cases.

Palu disaster aid
Children at Balaroa village school learning in make shift classrooms

The third school we delivered supplies to was the Petobo school, here we gave uniforms and food supplies. At all of the three schools the devastation was apparent everywhere. The children were learning in make shift classrooms with no supplies and little food. In addition to what we had taken with us we also donated additional dried food to the schools and 3 large house tents, 10 air mattresses for the children to sleep on and blankets.

Destruction Palu
A local house destroyed by liquefaction following the disaster

When we were driving around we saw entire communities where all of the houses were broken down or washed away and the ground had broken up. Despite the wreckages, missing people and sense of loss, when we brought the supplies it also felt like we gave some hope. There were many other volunteers in the area and although there is still a lot to do, Palu is on the road to recovery.”

Since Friska and Melky’s aid mission to Palu, disaster relief and aid agencies report that the situation in the region, thanks to the contributions received, has now stabilized. A full economic recovery, with rehousing completed, is expected to take between 5 and 10 years.

A special thank you again to all who helped us to make a difference to the people of Palu. Also, a special thank you to the team at WeDive who collected US $5,000 from their customers and staff.


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