Haiti: Indonesian children show solidarity

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ChildrenBy Lifter Tua Marbun

Tangerang, Indonesia - Last year, two major earthquakes hit Indonesia. When a new horrendous quake hit Haiti last month, Indonesians followed the breaking news with great interest and compassion. They knew what it was to be a victim, and prayed. And they donated money.

In the hot auditorium of Ora Et Labora School in Tangerang all the school’s 463 elementary and junior high students packed in to give their full attention to a memorial service for Haiti. ACT member Yayasan Tanggul Bencana di Indonesia (YTBI), together with school teachers, conducted the service honouring the children who survived the Haiti earthquake last month and also to develop solidarity and humanity among the school’s students. YTBI and the school wanted to show Indonesians’ concern for Haiti survivors by sending both material and spiritual support.

"Concerned, sad and hurt"

The one hour memorial service included worship and prayer and a slideshow featuring the devastation on Haiti after the earthquake. The students held a candlelight vigil afterwards to focus their compassion for the children they saw in the photos. The students then wrote their feelings about the scenes of suffering they had just seen, hoping to let the Haitian children know they were not forgotten.

“We have seen the situation on the images and we can contribute a small amount of money, but our prayers will always be with you. Love you,” wrote Trianake (14). “I am concerned, sad, and hurt to see the condition in Haiti; the lack of food, medical care, and the wounded.  They also lost their friends and families, but they are strong and may God be with them,” Hanna (13) wrote. Hundreds of other letters were written with the same compassion and feeling. Besides just being sad, some of them also said they wanted to donate pocket money “to help people there”.

Funds for Haiti

In the memorial service, the students collected 9.5 million Indonesian rupiah (1025 USD), which will be sent to ACT Alliance in Geneva for distribution to the Haiti relief program. “This is so that the money can be used for helping the survivors,” as one child said. “We must help the Haitians because they are our brothers and sisters,” Virinica (14) answered when asked about the importance of helping Haiti.

Some weeks before the memorial service, YTBI Managing Director Dr.Lucy Montolalu said there had to be an Indonesian contribution for Haiti. Indonesia does not want to only receive support and aid, but to give back to disaster victims outside Indonesia. This is not the first time YTBI has sent donations to other poor countries. In 2008, after the cyclone in Myanmar, YTBI donated funds to support survivors.

Haiti: after the earthquake