Merapi Volcano

Gathering Relief After Mount Merapi Volcano

In the aftermath of Indonesia’s volcanic catastrophe, the country is gradually on the road to recovery. Mount Merapi or The Mountain of Fire, which erupted five times since October 26, 2010, has left in its wake, chaos, death, a ruptured economy, non-existent agriculture, and so many missing and homeless.

On November 2, five days after the deadly eruption, The Art of Living Indonesian chapter sent aid in the form of blankets, sarongs, milk, medicine, masks and toiletries. Volunteers visited a few shelter homes, camps and a village at the base of the mountain.

Followed by yet another eruption on November 11, thousands of inhabitants were relocated to temporary shelters near the central Java city of Yogyakarta (famous for the Borobudur temple, and hub of higher education).

Evacuees Anxious

An Art of Living volunteer team from Jakarta visited the evacuees on November 22. It was found that although their basic needs had been met, they were living in cramped, unhygienic conditions and much remains to be done. Houses in the radius of six miles were still covered with thick layers of volcanic ash. Cleaning operations that include uncovering dead bodies and animal carcasses from the rubble as well as clearing the great volumes of ash and debris are in progress.

The displaced expressed their wish to return to their villages on the slopes but were fearful of another eruption as Mount Merapi continued to spew hot ash. The whole city was covered with thick ash and it would take several weeks just to clear the dust and thin rocks. Despite wearing masks, people felt congested and it was difficult to breathe.

While children played in the camps, the elderly looked on, anxious and worried. The crop of maize, rice and cassava was totally destroyed. Their other source of income, tourism to the Borobudur temple, was at a halt.

The Art of Living is involved in rehabilitation work and welcomes funds. For information, sonialakhiani@gmail.com