We include the second part of this marvellous effort by Terry and now 100 donors and sponsors, with our thanks for their dedication and effort to help. Well done guys!

Another long but fulfilling day on our second run up to Cianjur.

For this trip, we had 3 cars and a box truck kindly lent to us by Bill Lloyd and his team at Asian Tigers with 3 crew led by Bambang. With the box truck loaded with 36 6m x8m tarpaulins, 120 2m  x 2m floor mats and 150 blankets, nine more of us plus drivers left Jakarta around 0700 straight to the rest stop at Cibubur for a brief plan of our day ahead.

The first stop close to the disaster zone was at a large market in Cipanas. We stocked up on 1000kg (1 metric tonne of rice), 150kg of eggs, 50kg of sugar and salt, cooking oil, baby formula, other adult milk drinks, coffee, fresh fruit n veg, tens of kilos of traditional snacks, shampoo, soap, wet wipes, nappies, sanitary pads, talcum powder, eucalyptus oil, deep heat, children’s and adult stomach medicine, paracetamol, deep heat, reusable plastic trays beakers and spoons, gas canisters for stoves, and more.

Two hours in total to procure and load all the above with literally no room to spare in our small convoy of vehicles.

Our first task was to revisit the village we assisted last week. We discovered that around 15 new temporary shelters had been erected in addition to the 3 we helped with last week. On inspection, we saw that 3 of the new shelters needed tarpaulins as ground sheets to insulate against the very damp earth. We spoke again with the village head Pak Erwin and enquired if he needed a resupply of the food had brought the week before. He assured us he did not as more food aid had arrived since our first visit. He could have said yes but is clearly an honest man. Lots more smiles and thanks from these 200-plus villagers and we were on our way.

This time it was to a village some 10km from Cianjur to which we were escorted by one of the porters who had helped us at the market. He assured us his village was in dire need but as we moved along the windy road we were not seeing any damaged properties (that is, of course, a good thing) but not in the context of us delivering to where help is most needed. When we reached the village we found some houses did have some damage but all the villagers’ had adequate shelters and provisions. We left them with one sack of rice and left with a feeling of deflation as we had wasted more than an hour on this ‘side track’.

We decided to head back to the main road in Cianjur once again. No sooner had we reached the edge of the disaster zone that one of our group spotted a large group off to our right close to some large temporary shelters. We parked the vehicles on the main road and walked across some open ground where we quickly discovered 3 large tarpaulin-covered shelters with damp mud floors on which were shoes and clothes and items salvaged from the quake. We called the vehicles up and at the same time, met with the RT village head a lady called Ibu Ai.

We explained where we were from, why we were there and who we were representing (our more than 100 donors) and that we would like to provide some of our large tarpaulins to act as ground sheets. This was agreed but as we started to lay the first ground sheet some officers from a military detail camped nearby came across seeking photos with our group and insisting we hold one of the tarpaulins. We reluctantly agreed and then got back to laying the first ground sheet. The ladies present then insisted they wanted to wait for their husbands to help on their return. We then continued to provide them with floor mats to go on top of the ground sheets, baby formula, traditional snacks, cooking oil, sugar, salt, various drink sachets, panadol, stomach medicine, sweets for the children, traditional snacks, and 50 blankets. The total number of villagers helped at this location was around 170. We offered rice but they said they had enough.

Whilst dispensing at this village we were told of some nearby villages well away from the main road that had hundreds of villagers in need. Some of our team went off to recce. When they came back we had the vehicles ready to move. We followed a cement road for maybe 1.5 km that came to a dead end. We parked and walked down a short track to two large temporary shelters where we spoke to the RT (who had lost his phone in the quake) and discovered these structures were temporary homes to some 228 people including many women, children of various ages and infants. Their village was 60 percent destroyed with villagers unwilling to return to those homes still standing.

We saw that they had a patchwork of thin tarps and rice sacking as a base for the largest shelter which was around 30m x 15m in size. We gave them six of our 6 x 8m thick tarps to be used as groundsheets and helped them lay the first two. We also left plenty of rope so they could raise and suspend the sides of the tarps as a windbreak. We also gave them a number of 2 x 2m mats to go with the ones they had already. When the children saw the print of the mats their eyes lit up as they saw trains, cars and road designs that they could play on.

We also dispensed 300kg of rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil, fresh fruit and veggies. Whilst there we saw a huddle of around 60 villagers nearby. They were from a different village with a different RT village head. They indicated they had adequate shelter and were dry but asked for some rice and whatever else we could spare for their smaller group. They were given 60kg of rice, 15kg eggs, gas canisters for their stove, twenty sleeping mats, 50 blankets, assorted dry goods, toothbrushes, nappies, baby formula etc

In addition and close to where our vehicles were standing by we discovered another village (different RT village head) with a further 200 people. They were given rice, 30kg of eggs, cooking oil, assorted dry goods, twenty sleeping mats, and some fresh fruit and vegetables.

On the subject of fruit and vegetables. We stocked up on these after media reports that after a limited diet of predominantly rice and noodles many displaced by the quake were suffering constipation.

By now it was getting dark. After many more smiling faces, photos and thanks we departed for another village we had been told about on the opposite side of the main road.in Cianjur that we had been on earlier. We found a man with a motorbike who was willing to lead us. As we moved along ever-narrowing streets we became concerned that we might not find anywhere to park or turn around. After several hundred meters we came to a small junction with a narrow road off to the right. This became our beacon of hope that we would be able to extract the vehicles later with a 3-point turn. We parked there and decided to walk in and recce. It turned out that a couple of hundred meters ahead there were several small shelter areas with combined numbers of a few dozen.

 We began unloading provisions and walking them in when we were approached by the RW who is the Head of several villages in that area. He explained that he had more than 1000 residents he was responsible for and asked if we could have the items delivered to the dedicated earthquake post ‘posko gempa‘ in his RW area with the assurance it would be fairly distributed the following morning. We requested the help of youths and men and a line of porters was soon offloading out remaining food stocks, as well as hygiene products.

We did not seek or wish to undermine the authority of the RW ( a very senior community position of status) and in any event, we were confident that the more than 100 people who had witnessed our arrival and deliveries would soon spread the word to the broader community in their area that the RW would be issuing items the next morning.

So we returned to Jakarta with the lion’s share of our tarpaulins and a few dozen of floor mats for future despatch. Fifteen hours door-to-door.

Thus far from our first two visits on 23 and 29 November 2022 we estimate we have had a direct impact on some 860 displaced villagers providing a dry surface for them to sit rest and sleep, items to keep them warm in the cold damp mountain air, food to sustain them, the ability to cook and utensils to eat from in addition to items essential for their hygiene.

We also trust (wholeheartedly) that the worst impacted in the RW group of villages will also receive their fair share in the coming days.

All the above effort is down to all the wonderful donors who have donated thus far to our To-The-Point Cianjur Earthquake Relief. With more money coming in daily.

Planning to head back up with another convoy to Cianjur again this coming Sunday, 4 December 2022. We need a minimum of 4 to 6 vehicles to make it impactful. Need people with access to a vehicle to join us.

Please get in touch with me on this number: +62 813 8133 9955

Thanks and God Bless!

Alistair Speirs

Alistair Speirs

Alistair has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for 25 years. He started NOW! Magazines as the region’s preferred community magazine.