Indonesia: Helping Families Rebuild Quake-Shattered Homes

Irwan Etendi’s family had never experienced anything like the earthquake that hit West Sumatra, Indonesia, on September 30.

“We were all inside when we felt the shaking,” he says. “We all ran out—even my father-in-law who hadn’t finished his [daily] prayers.”

The extended family of 22 members lives on a large compound in five cement block houses. Now one house is a heap of pink concrete rubble. The other four have crumbled walls, extensive cracks and mounds of rubble strewn across the floors.

“That night we all slept on the front porch,” Irwan’s sister Arnis says.

Two weeks later, they are doing a little better but face a long road to recovery. Tarps, soap, and a toolkit provided by Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Indonesia and other Caritas partners are helping.

“We are using the tools to build a wooden shelter,” Irwan says. “The children will sleep there tomorrow.”

His father-in-law and other relatives have been hard at work for days collecting iron sheeting and using a crowbar to wrench out salvageable pieces of timber. Now they are nailing the pieces together to construct a temporary home.

CRS is undertaking a $1.5 million emergency response in West Sumatra to help 6,000 families in three of the hardest-hit districts—a response that will grow as additional funding comes in.

To meet their immediate household needs, families are receiving an emergency package with tarps, blankets, sleeping mats, sarongs, soap, buckets and more. CRS and our local partner WALHI are also working with communities to design the most appropriate package to help families build transitional shelters to live in until they can rebuild their permanent homes. The emergency shelter team will also help educate communities in earthquake-resilient construction techniques to increase family safety.

While Irwan’s family is worried about how they’ll find the money to rebuild, they are still finding small moments of joy. Their newest baby laughs as he reaches up to touch the top of the tarp hanging above a sleeping platform to protect two mattresses from rain. And sister-in-law Nurhayati says, “You come and see our situation, and that already makes us happy.”

- Debbie DeVoe, CRS regional information officer, reporting from Luruh Ampalu, West Sumatra, Indonesia

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

MENU